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US Intelligence Assessment: Russia-Ukraine War Likely to Go On

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing to examine worldwide threats on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 10, 2022.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing to examine worldwide threats on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 10, 2022.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia’s war on Ukraine is likely to go on for an extended period, but that Moscow’s forces are unlikely in the short term to be able to advance beyond Ukraine’s eastern region, the top American intelligence official said Wednesday.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a Washington conference on export controls that Russia controls about 20% of Ukraine along a conflict line that stretches for 1,100 kilometers.

But she said that insurgent resistance by Ukrainians in Russian-occupied regions is increasing, making it more difficult for Russia to advance beyond the Donbas region in the east, where it has captured almost the entirety of Luhansk province but less of neighboring Donetsk province. A peace settlement is also unlikely, she said.

Most likely, Haines said, is that the conflict, now in its fifth month, “remains a grinding struggle in which the Russians make incremental gains, but no breakthrough.”

“In short, the picture remains pretty grim,” Haines said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin still aims to take much of Ukraine, she said, although earlier in the war Moscow’s forces failed to topple the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or capture the capital, Kyiv.

On Wednesday, Russia launched new attacks, with the mayor of Mykolaiv, a river port just off the Black Sea, saying eight missiles landed there, including one that hit an apartment building, killing four people and wounding five.

"There is fighting everywhere," Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said. The Russians are taking the city of Lysychansk building by building, he said, much as they did previously in nearby Sievierodonetsk.

Russia-installed officials said their security forces detained the mayor in Kherson after he refused to follow their orders. Russian officials there have begun preparations for a referendum on the region joining Russia.

Zelenskyy on Tuesday called Russia a “terrorist state” and urged the United Nations to send a commission to investigate a deadly missile strike Monday on a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk that killed at least 18 civilians.

“Who of you does not agree this is terrorism?” the Ukrainian leader asked in remarks beamed into the U.N. Security Council chamber in New York while discussing the Kremenchuk attack and others on civilians and civilian infrastructure in recent days.

Zelenskyy said in any other part of the world, any group that killed civilians the way Russia is doing in Ukraine would be considered terrorists.

“Therefore, what is punished at the level of criminals and criminal organizations must not go unchecked at the level of the state, which has become a terrorist,” he said of the Kremlin.

Moscow’s Security Council envoy protested the Ukrainian president's being allowed to address the council, saying Zelenskyy’s appearance was last-minute and arranged without consulting all council members.

'There was no strike'

Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said Zelenskyy’s address was intended to win sympathy and weapons from attendees at the NATO summit commencing in Madrid.

Polyanskiy also dismissed allegations that the shopping center in Kremenchuk had been hit, saying it was not near Russia’s target.

“In reality, there was no strike on the shopping center,” Polyanskiy declared. “The Russian armed forces used precision weapons to strike hangars with Western weapons and ammunition received from the United States and European countries in the area of Kremenchuk road machinery plant.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.