Russian President Putin with defence minister Shoigu at Red Square, Moscow Photograph:( AFP )
US intelligence chief Avril Haines told Senators during a hearing that the Russian president is likely to move in a "more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory".
Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence told the US Senate on Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons only if Russia faces an "existential threat".
Haines added that the Russian president intends to "achieve goals beyond the Donbas" while "preparing for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine".
"Putin most likely also judges that Russia has a greater ability and willingness to endure challenges than his adversaries," the US intelligence chief told lawmakers.
"He is probably counting on US and EU resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation and energy prices get worse," Haines said.
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Haines said Putin may "impose martial law", "reorient industrial production, or potentially escalatory military options to free up the resources needed to achieve his objectives".
The US intelligence chief told Senators during a hearing that the Russian president is likely to move in a "more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory".
The United States had said earlier that President Putin's assertion of a defensive operation in Ukraine was "patently absurd".
"It is an insult to those who have lost their lives and those who have fallen victim to this senseless oppression," the US State Department had said.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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