(CNSNews.com) – CIA Director William Burns says Russian leaders believe that time is on their side as their invasion of Ukraine grinds into a second year.
In an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Burns recalled his recent “dispiriting” conversation with Russia’s spy chief, Sergey Naryshkin:
“There was a very defiant attitude on the part of Mr. Naryshkin as well, a sense of cockiness and hubris, reflecting Putin’s own view, his own belief today that he can make time work for him, that he believes he can grind down the Ukrainians, that he can wear down our European allies, that political fatigue will eventually set in,” Burns said.
“And, in my experience, Putin’s view of Americans, of us, has been that we have attention deficit disorder, and we’ll move on to some other issue eventually.
“And so Putin, in many ways, I think, believes today that he cannot win for awhile, but he can’t afford to lose.”
Burns said Putin is not sentimental about the loss of Russian life or Russian armaments on the battlefield:
“But there’s a lot of hubris that continues to be attached to Putin and his view of the war right now. And I think what’s going to be critical is to puncture that hubris on Putin’s part and regain momentum on the battlefield.
“I don’t think the Russians are serious today. And I think it’s only progress on the battlefield that’s going to shape any improved prospects for negotiations down the road.”
Host Margaret Brennan asked Burns, “At what point does Putin say, I can’t win?”
“I think Putin is right now entirely too confident of his ability to wear down Ukraine, to grind away,” Burns responded.
“And that’s what he’s giving every evidence that he’s determined to do right now.
“At some point, he’s going to have to face up to increasing costs as well, in coffins coming home to some of the poorest parts of Russia. There’s a cumulative economic damage to Russia as well, huge reputational damage. It has not exactly been a great advertisement for Russian arms sales.”
“So this is going to build over time, but, right now, the honest answer, I think Putin is quite determined.”
Burns said he’s “confident” that China’s communist leaders are considering sending lethal equipment to Russia:
“We also don’t see that a final decision has been made yet, and we don’t see evidence of actual shipments of lethal equipment. And that’s why, I think, Secretary Blinken and the president have thought it important to make very clear what the consequences of that would be as well.”
Burns said sending lethal aid “would be a very risky and unwise bet” on China’s part.
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