U.S. intelligence officials claimed Tuesday that Vladimir Putin is ‘desperate’ to end the conflict over Ukraine, with some privately suggesting he could set off a tactical nuclear weapon in a Ukrainian city to get the job done.
Heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the Director of National Intelligence all spoke at a House Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, and all claimed Putin is frustrated with the slow pace of the invasion.
The intelligence officials also claimed that up to 4000 Russian troops have been killed in the past two weeks.
Fuelled by his disappointments, Putin could resort to using a small nuke, they intimated, as insane as that sounds.
CIA Director William Burns said Putin has “been stewing in a combustible combination of grievance and ambition for many years,” further noting that Russian military doctrine contains contingencies for using tactical nuclear weapons.
“You know, Russian doctrine holds that you escalate to de-escalate, and so I think the risk would rise, according to the doctrine,” Burns said.
Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency added that Putin has “invested in tactical nuclear weapons.”
“I also believe that when he says something, we should listen very, very carefully and maybe take him at his word,” Berrier warned.
Avril Haines, the director of National Intelligence, said “Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling” cannot be ignored and that he “is unlikely to be deterred,” by the international response to his invasion “and instead may escalate, essentially doubling down.”
“We assess Putin feels aggrieved the West does not give him proper deference, and perceives this as a war he cannot afford to lose,” Haines further warned, adding that “what he might be willing to accept as a victory may change over time.”
The full hearing can be viewed here:
The warnings come after the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed earlier this week that Ukrainian intelligence conspired with anti-Russian extremist militants to stage a false flag attack on a nuclear reactor in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov.
Putin placed Russia’s nuclear forces on a “special regime of combat duty” two weeks ago.
People in multiple different European countries are panic buying iodine pills in fear of nuclear fallout caused by the conflict in Ukraine.
They’re flying off the shelves in Romania at the same rate as after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
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