Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has revealed the United States intel community’s current assessment that it expects the intensity of the Ukraine-Russia war to wane going into the winter months, only to ramp-up again during counteroffensives in the spring.
“Once you get past the winter, the sort of question is: What will the counteroffensive look like?” Haines said before the Reagan Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California on Saturday. “We expect that, frankly, both militaries are gonna be in a situation where they’re gonna be looking to try to refit, resupply, in a sense, reconstitute, so that they’re kind of prepared for that counteroffensive.”
“But we actually have a fair amount of skepticism as to whether or not the Russians will be, in fact, prepared to do that,” she continued. “And I think most optimistically for the Ukrainians in that time frame.”
Likely US intelligence’s “skepticism” over Russian forces’ capabilities at this point is related to being beat back in parts of the Donbas over the last two months, and particularly with last month’s recapturing of the city of Kherson after Moscow ordered a large-scale pullback.
She further assessed that while the cold winter months will have a greater impact on Russians’ morale, she hasn’t seen the Ukrainian side lost their will, despite devastating missile attacks on the national energy grid meant to impose additional collective suffering.
“They’re doing this in order to undermine the Ukrainian will in effect, and I think we’re not seeing any evidence of that being undermined right now at this point,” she said.
Additionally she underscored that Putin is at this point more keenly aware of Russian forces’ “lack of performance and the fact that they did not accomplish more” but yet still may not be fully accepting of “just how challenged they are” – particularly the poor performance of ammo supply and logistics lines.
Speaking of Putin’s chief objectives in the Ukraine invasion, Haines posed, “The challenge is, what does that mean for his near term [and] are they going to be as expansive as they were at the beginning?”
For a contrasting take…
— tim anderson (@timand2037) December 2, 2022
…however, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says:
If anyone thinks that war will “freeze” in the winter, they are mistaken. russia wants to destroy us.
We want to live freely.
No time for compromises. pic.twitter.com/ojCfLfGWmZ
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) December 2, 2022
Haines questioned further, “Or does he at some point recognize that he’s incapable of doing what it is he intended to originally and sort of downscale what it is that he’s willing to accept?”