Russia “planned an occupation, not necessarily an invasion, and it has reversed it,” said a Pentagon official.
Setbacks to Russian forces and overstretched resources in Ukraine show that Moscow’s forces are unable to meet President Vladimir Putin’s initial invasion objectives as things stand, the Pentagon’s intelligence chief has said.
“We’re now getting to a point where I think Putin will have to rethink his objectives for this operation,” Defense Intelligence Agency director Lieutenant General Scott Berrier said at a conference on Friday.
“It’s pretty clear at this point that he… won’t be able to do what he originally set out to do.”
Russian forces have suffered major setbacks since the launch last week of a Ukrainian counter-offensive that has pushed Moscow’s forces back from much of northeastern Ukraine.
“The Russians planned an occupation, not necessarily an invasion, and that turned them back on,” Berrier said, citing Putin’s reluctance to fully mobilize Russian forces to get more manpower into the battle.
US President Joe Biden and other government officials have made sure that Russia’s latest retreat is not called a Ukrainian victory or turning point in the war, and analysts warn it is impossible to assess what lies ahead in the conflict.
“He’s coming to a decision,” Berrier said of Putin.
“We don’t know what that decision will be. But that will largely determine how long this conflict lasts.”
he will not be able to accomplish what he originally set out to do.”
— DIA (@DefenseIntel) September 16, 2022
Putin’s ‘risk appetite’
Berrier spoke on a panel with other senior officials at the intelligence community’s Intelligence and National Security Summit in National Harbor in Maryland, just outside Washington.
CIA Deputy Director David Cohen said Putin’s “risk appetite” should not be underestimated.
“I don’t think we should underestimate Putin’s adherence to his original agenda of controlling Ukraine. I don’t think we’ve seen any reason to believe he’s moved on from that.”
Separately, at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan on Friday, Putin vowed to continue his attack on Ukraine and warned Moscow could step up its attacks on the country’s infrastructure if Ukrainian forces attacked facilities in Russia.
Putin said the “liberation” of the entire eastern Donbas region of Ukraine was Russia’s main military goal and he saw no need to revise it.
“We are in no rush,” the Russian leader said.
US military officials said Friday that two new surface-to-air missile systems and counter-artillery radars (NASAMS) will be delivered to Ukraine.
Pentagon Press Secretary, Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder, said “two NASAMS are expected to be delivered within the next two months.”
The White House said it was the 21st time the Department of Defense took weapons and other equipment off its shelves to supply Ukraine.
Ryder said on Tuesday that Western weapons and supplies have played a role in the success of the current Ukrainian counter-offensive.
According to Ryder, US officials and their counterparts from nearly 50 countries have pledged to keep the arms supply chain going to Ukraine and also increase aid for Ukraine’s defense in the medium and long term.
A senior defense official told reporters that the NASAMS aims to help Ukraine transition from using Soviet-era air defense systems that are not only well known to the Russians, but also need to be repaired with spare parts that are hard to come by.
The US has pledged more than $8.8 billion in weapons and military training to Ukraine, whose leaders have sought more help from Western allies to fend off larger and more heavily equipped Russian forces.