Russian President Vladimir Putin who has invaded Ukraine could use nuclear weapons if he felt war being lost, according to Avril Haines, Director of the National Intelligence. She said Putin is preparing for a prolonged war and that his ambition goes far beyond getting a hold on Donbas, where many pro-Russian sympathizers live. “We believe that Putin’s goal is to take control over Transnistria, Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region to the east of Ukraine,” Haines said.
According to The Guardian, Director Haines told the Senate armed services committee that Putin could view the prospect of defeat in Ukraine as an existential threat to his regime, and that he might resort to using nuclear weapons to hold on to power. Haines also said that there is “a mismatch between [Putin’s] ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities,” and that such mismatch means that “the next few months could see us moving along a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory.” She further assessed that Putin could declare martial law and reorient industrial production.
“The capture of the Donbas plus a buffer zone is unlikely in the next few weeks,” said Director Haines. “We assess President Putin is preparing for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas.”
Director Haines further said that Putin’s goal is to take control of Odessa and extend control over a land bridge that stretches to Transnistria. If all goes as Putin plans, Ukraine will become a landlocked country, cut off from the Black Sea. However, Haines predicted that Putin’s plan is hardly likely to succeed.