US intelligence officials overlooked the fact that the Russian military was an ’empty army’, but said Putin remains a threat


  • Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday they misjudged Russia’s military power ahead of its invasion of Ukraine.
  • The military vulnerability exposed in Ukraine could further destabilize Putin, the director of national intelligence said.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials admitted on Tuesday that Russia misjudged Russia’s military power before it invaded Ukraine, including being unaware that it has an “empty army” to fight against the country’s fierce resistance.

They estimated that it would take “years” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s conventional army to recover as the war continues, in which thousands of Russian weapons are destroyed, thousands of casualties and dozens of generals are killed.

“What we couldn’t see from the inside was a kind of hollow force, a corps of non-commissioned officers, a lack of leadership training, and a lack of effective doctrine,” DEA Director Scott Berrier told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Current U.S. defense strategy, which the Pentagon publicly released in its Unclassified Summary in March, classifies Russia as a “rapid” threat, which, while clearly a step back from China’s “continuous challenge”, is still the Pentagon’s record 773 billion won. It is part of the basics of a dollar budget. Request in 2023.

Russian tank destruction Mariupol

Abandoned Russian tank in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 13, 2022.

Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Before 12 weeks of war, US officials predicted that Kyiv could fall to Russia in days. Instead, Ukrainian forces thwarted Russian attempts to seize the capital, forcing the Russians to retreat and refocus on the area southeast of Donbas.

Ukrainian Latest estimates of Russian battlefield losses About 26,000 casualties, more than 1,000 tanks, more than 2,800 armored vehicles, and more than 300 planes and helicopters were destroyed. These figures may have been overestimated, in part due to the parallel intelligence war between Ukraine and Russia.

Berrier said his agency agreed with Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s proposal, with an estimate of 8-10 Russian generals killed in the war. Ukrainian officials put the number of killed Russian generals at 12.

Although the war now appears to be at a “stalemate,” Berrier said, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines, who testified with Berrier, suggested that weakness in the Russian army could further destabilize Putin.

“The reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities could mean that in the months ahead we may see ourselves moving along a more unpredictable and potentially escalating trajectory,” Haines said. will,” he said.

In addition to misjudging Russia’s capabilities ahead of the war, U.S. officials, including Barrier, at the previous hearingHe blamed the erroneous prediction of Kiev because he underestimated the will of the Ukrainians to fight.

The crashed Sukhoi Russian jet of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

The Russian Sukhoi plane crashed in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Ministry of Defense


But on Tuesday, Berrier clashed with Senator Angus King of I-Maine when he was asked about the difficulty of assessing the intelligence community’s willingness to fight. King also noted that he overestimated the will of the now-defunct Afghan army to fight the Taliban.

“There has been no information community assessment that the Ukrainians are unwilling to fight,” Berrier said. “The ratings spoke of their fighting abilities.”

Under King’s further pressure, Berrier admitted that the assessment that Kyiv had been overpowered was “grossly wrong”, but still argued that the problem was not American analysis of Ukraine’s resolve, predicting the invasion “that the intelligence community did a great job.” I think,” he added. .

“How can we say that when we have been explicitly told that Kyiv will fall in three days and the Ukrainian government will fall in two weeks?” King countered. “If you don’t admit you have a problem, you have a problem.”

When asked how Russia’s losses in the war on Tuesday affected Moscow’s overall threat, Berrier and Haines said it would take “years” for Russia to rebuild its conventional military and replace lost equipment and soldiers.

“The overall level of threat hasn’t changed as much as the question of how it’s evolving,” Haines added. “Ground combat power has been significantly degraded … which could eventually mean that they rely more on asymmetric tools during this period. So they can rely more on things like cyber, nuclear precision, etc.”

— Rebecca Kheel [email protected]. Follow her on her Twitter @reporterkheel.

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