Vladimir Putin’s plan to seize Ukraine’s capital in the first two days of Russia’s invasion has been a complete failure, thrown off course by a fierce Ukrainian resistance, poor planning and a series of profound miscalculations.
Why it matters: An isolated and angry Putin is expected to double down on his brutality as the war in Ukraine drags on for weeks, months or even years, according to top U.S. intelligence officials. It could be his undoing.
Driving the news: “He has no sustainable political end game in the face of what is going to continue to be fierce resistance from the Ukrainians,” CIA Director Bill Burns testified to a House committee Tuesday.
- Even if Russia eventually captures Kyiv, the U.S. intelligence community does not see a way that a pro-Russian puppet regime can stay in power given the Ukrainian people’s absolute refusal to capitulate.
- The U.S. estimates that between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian troops have already been killed, “far in excess” of what Putin anticipated or has admitted, Burns said.
- Putin was ready for sanctions, but not the speed and unity with which the Western world brought the hammer down — especially private companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Coca-Cola, which all halted Russian sales Tuesday.
Reality check: Despite the setbacks, Putin is “unlikely to be deterred,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testified.
- The people who will suffer most are Ukrainian civilians, who are already beginning to see the vicious tactics Putin adopted to achieve his military aims in Syria and Chechnya.
- The upside is that what Putin “might be willing to accept as a victory may change over time, given the significant costs he is incurring,” Haines predicted.