No ‘quality leap’ expected in Russia’s war effort as Putin tries to win time, Estonian intelligence says
Vladimir Putin (Photo:Sputnik/Sergey Bobylev/Pool via REUTERS)
Russia is unlikely to make a "quality leap" in its ability to wage a full-scale war against Ukraine, though President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to relent despite the setbacks on the frontline in the first year of the invasion, says the annual report of Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Bloomberg reported on Feb. 8.
The intelligence service believes that the key focus for the dictator is "weakening support [for Ukraine] from allies such as the United States and NATO,” and noted that even when Russia's military plans for a takeover failed due to Ukraine's ability to defend itself as well as U.S. and EU sanctions, "Putin's government showed no signs of weakness and is able to deploy the tools of propaganda imperialism."
"Putin is stalling for time, believing that Ukraine and the West will run out of steam before Russia does," the Estonian agency wrote.
"Putin thinks that he can 'bomb' Ukraine and bring it to the negotiating table.”
The Russian elite is increasingly concerned that Putin has "gone mad," Estonian intelligence suggests, but most of them lack the courage to take real steps to effect change. Tallinn suggests that in a potential post-Putin Russia, "there is no significant group that shares democratic values”. Instead, the "radicals" are fighting for power, including the founder of the Wagner PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin and Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov.
Estonian intelligence officials have called Putin's authoritarian regime "the Soviet Union 2.0, with no new Gorbachev on the horizon, let alone Yeltsin." They are also concerned that Russia's invasion has increased the risk of military conflict in the Baltic states.
"As further mobilization and planned large-scale Russian military exercises later this year are expected to increase tensions on NATO's eastern flank," the FIS report says.
In an interview with Estonian newspaper Eesti Päevaleht, the head of Estonia's Foreign Intelligence Service, Kaupo Rosin, also said that if Ukraine is defeated in the war unleashed by Russia, its resources could be taken away and directed against Western countries.
Meanwhile, Estonian intelligence consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia against Ukraine unlikely due to "international opposition and low military effectiveness." However, the "nuclear card" that Putin continues to keep on the table will continue to be used as a "tool of anti-Western influence”.
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