CIA Director Bill Burns said Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine exposed the shortcomings of the Russian military.
Burns told a cybersecurity conference in Washington, DC, on Thursday that it was “hard to see the war’s record – Putin’s record – as anything other than a failure so far.”
“Not only has the weakness of the Russian military been exposed, but it will cause long-term damage to the Russian economy and to generations of Russians,” he said.
“Russia is going to pay a very heavy price, I think over a long period of time,” he added, according to CNN. Newsweek contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
This comes as Ukraine has claimed successes in a counter-offensive in the south of the country and in the Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy said in his late-night address Thursday that over the past week, Ukraine has retaken more than 1,000 km2 (390 square miles) of territory, nearly the size of New York City, including water areas, and “liberated dozens of colonies.”
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that the gains in Kharkiv showed he was able to “deoccupy his territories” and that Russian troops “must come out”.
He added that it also showed that Ukraine could “effectively use modern Western weapons”.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) had been used for strikes on more of 400 Russian targets so far.
The range and speed of the HIMARS, 16 of which were sent by the United States to Ukraine, allowed its forces to strike Russian ammunition depots and command posts. Milley announced that more munitions would be part of the latest $675 million security assistance package.
Retired Australian Major General Mick Ryan said he agreed with Burns’ assessment because Putin’s strategy was based on “very wrong” assumptions. “That Ukrainians wouldn’t fight, that Ukraine wasn’t a real country; and that the West would not intervene or do so decisively.
“Because the military based their planning on these, they got caught off guard with their force structure,” Ryan said. Newsweekreferring to a lack of logistics, air support and air superiority.
“They attempted an extremely risky advance on multiple fronts that they would not have attempted against an enemy they thought they were fighting. Strategic mistakes informed poor military and diplomatic planning,” said Ryan, author of War Transformed: The Future of Great Power Competition and Conflict in the 21st Century.
“The reason this is important is that effective strategic thinking and strategic leadership are more important than tactical excellence,” he added.