The Russian president's ambitions have not changed since the start of the war, says the US intelligence chief.
It is still the Russian president, Vladimir Putins, ambition to occupy most of Ukraine.
This is according to the latest US intelligence assessment after four months of war in Ukraine, says Avril Haines, who is the supreme leader of the United States' intelligence service.
– We believe, that he has the same political goals, which he had to begin with, namely to occupy the majority of Ukraine, it sounds.
It is in spite of, that the Russian forces have been repulsed in several places in Ukraine and, among other things, have had to give up taking the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, she says according to Reuters.
However, Putin's goals are not immediately within reach, says Haines at the same time, partly because of the large losses, which the Russian military has suffered since the start of the war.
– We perceive a lack of connection between Putin's immediate military goals and his military capabilities, a kind of mismatch between his ambitions, and what his military is actually capable of doing.
Credible information from good sources
The American intelligence seems to be credible, assesses Flemming Splidsboel, who is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies (THE GODS) with specialization in Russia and Ukraine.
– I would think, that the intelligence is very reliable, and the American intelligence service apparently has good sources – something, that has been clear from the start of the war, he says.
According to Flemming Spidsboel, the Russian ambitions in Ukraine probably have no footing - and they never have, not even though Russia has had big plans since the start of the war.
That the Russian president has obviously not yet scrapped the plans, There may be several reasons for this, he tells.
– Either way, he still firmly believes in it, that this can be done. Or he is in a situation, where he cannot recognize, that he has been wrong and will therefore have to hold firm, he says, adding, that the Americans would no doubt intercept it, if the president admitted his mistake, even in private meetings with his military leadership.
– It looks bleak
The Russian forces have recently focused most of their efforts on conquest – or in Russia's own words “befrie” – Donbas regions, which is located in eastern Ukraine and borders Russia.
According to the Kremlin, the liberation of Donbas has, which houses Luhansk and Donetsk, since the end of March has been the official target with “the military special operation”, which was initiated it 24. February.
The Russian forces have made progress, not least in Luhansk, where, after several weeks of hard fighting, they recently captured the city of Shevjerodonetsk. But progress has been slow, not least because of strong resistance from the remaining Ukrainian forces in the area.
According to the US intelligence service, there are three possible scenarios for, how the war may develop in the future.
The most likely of them is a continuing and protracted conflict, where Russia “make gradual progress, but does not achieve any breakthrough”.
– In short, it looks bleak, and Russia's attitude towards the West is hardening, says Avril Haines.
The others, less likely scenarios include a possible Russian breakthrough, or that Ukraine succeeds in stabilizing the front lines, while at the same time making less progress, perhaps around the Russian-controlled city of Kherson and other areas in southern Ukraine, reads the assessment.
Ambitions beyond Donbas
The American think tank Institute for the Study of War also assesses on Wednesday, that Russia has ambitions beyond the Donbas region.
This is evidenced by the latest attacks in the region around Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, about, reads the assessment.
– The recent battles over the control of settlements north of Kharkiv city point in the direction of, that although the Kremlin claims to have its full focus on capturing Donbas, then at the same time they seek to gain control of Ukrainian territory outside of Luhansk and Donetsk (the two regions of Donbas, red.).
Will take years to rebuild
Whatever the scenario, that ends up coming true, it will take years for Russia to rebuild its military muscle, says Avril Haines.
– During this period we expect, that they will become more dependent on "asymmetric tools", such as cyber attacks, attempt to control the energy supply, even nuclear weapons, as part of trying to control and exert power and influence on a global scale, she says.
– In the meantime, it's unlikely, that Russian troops will be able to carry out several parallel operations at once, says the intelligence chief, which states that Putin's priority right now is to gain ground in the Donbas region.
Very far regardless of the price
Russia has not released any official casualty figures since March, but the British Ministry of Defense assessed in the month of May, that during the first four months of the war Russia has lost as much as a third of its fighting forces.
The assessment is based on loss figures, which the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics of Luhansk and Donetsk continuously broadcast. According to the Ukrainian military, the Russian casualty numbers are more than 35.000 soldiers. DR cannot confirm the alleged loss figures.
The fact that Putin chooses to stick to his plans despite the gloomy outlook points to this, that he is ready to pay a very high price to realize them, says Flemming Splidsboel from DIIS.
– He is willing to go to great lengths without thought, what it costs.