CIA Director William Burns told lawmakers on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to agree to settlement talks with Ukraine on tactical grounds because he “has no lasting end” to his invasion. .
“Given Putin’s background, being someone who hates to act out of what he believes to be weakness, having to concede or admit mistakes, that’s probably far off,” Burns said. about any chance of the talks succeeding.
A Thursday session in Turkey between the country’s two top diplomats failed to produce a ceasefire.
Burns also told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Putin, at the same time, was turning Russia into a “propaganda bubble.”
“It has intensified its dominance of state media and its strangulation of independent media, especially in recent years, and especially since the start of the invasion of Ukraine.”
“I don’t believe he can isolate himself [Russians] endlessly from the truth, especially as realities have begun to burst this bubble. The realities of the killed and injured returning home in growing numbers. The realities of the economic consequences for ordinary Russians that I was talking about before, the realities of you know, the horrific scenes of hospitals and schools being bombed next door and Ukraine, enough civilian casualties there as well. I don’t think he can lock up the truth indefinitely,” he said.
Heads of intelligence agencies across government testified in the second of two hearings detailing their annual “global threats” report, after speaking to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
Burns told Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, that the United States needed to “focus” on Russia’s potential use of chemical weapons, both in terms of a “false flag” operation and in reality.
“As you all know very well, it’s something that’s very much in Russia’s playbook,” Burns said. “They used these weapons against their own citizens. They at least encouraged their use in Syria and elsewhere. So this is something we take very seriously.”
He said he believes the United States is adequately pushing back against the Russian narrative.
“In all the years I have spent as a career diplomat, I have seen too many cases in which we have lost information wars with the Russians. In this case, I think we had a lot of problems. effect by disrupting their tactics and calculations and demonstrating to the world that this is a premeditated and unprovoked assault, built on a set of lies and false narratives,” he said.
The head of US Cyber Command, General Paul Nakasone, has defended information sharing between the US and Ukraine amid Republican suggestions the US is holding back.
“The intelligence we share is accurate. It’s relevant and actionable. I think when we look back on it, that’s the key piece of what we’ve been able to do as an intelligence community,” he said. declared. .
Defense Intelligence Agency Director General Scott Berrier admitted he could have better assessed the problems Putin’s army would have overcoming the Ukrainians’ will to fight.
“So we assessed before the invasion that he overestimated or underestimated, rather, the resistance of the Ukrainians,” he said. “We didn’t do as well in terms of predicting the military challenges he faced with his own army.”
“We speculated on his assumptions, which turned out to be very, very flawed,” Berrier said.
“Among the many deeply flawed assumptions President Putin made in launching this invasion was his assumption that he had built a sanctions-proof economy,” Burns said.
Putin, Burns said, thought he had built up a “very large war chest of foreign currency reserves and gold reserves, and by not anticipating sanctions against the Russian Central Bank, by not not anticipating that the German leadership would show such determination in particular, I think he grossly underestimated the economic consequences, and I think they are being felt right now in Russia, and it will intensify.”