US Intelligence fears that Putin will try to connect Donbas with Transnistria

A girl next to a Russian military vehicle near Makariv in the kyiv region – Mykhaylo Palinchak / Zuma Press / ContactPhoto

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The United States intelligence services suspect that Russia’s interest in focusing its military offensive on eastern Ukraine does not respond to long-term objectives but to a “temporary change”, since it considers it likely that it aspires to connect the Ukrainian region of the Donbas with Transnistria, in the east of Moldova.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an order in April to concentrate military operations in eastern Ukraine, but US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines believes he is only buying time to “regain the initiative” again.

Washington is preparing for “a prolonged conflict”, in which Moscow “still intends to achieve objectives beyond the Donbas region”, according to Haines, who appeared before the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

Russian movements in the southeastern area show interest in connecting Donbas with the Crimean peninsula, but US intelligence sees it as feasible that it even aspires to reach Transnistria, for which it would have to take over regions such as Odessa. Haines has pointed out that, in any case, the evolution of the conflict is “unpredictable”.


Putin keeps his nuclear forces on alert, which keeps Western countries like the United States on guard. The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Scott Berrier, does not rule out that he will resort to these weapons, but only if Putin perceives that the “existence” of Russia is at risk.

“As this war and its aftermath gradually weaken Russia’s conventional forces, Russia is likely to rely increasingly on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project force,” Berrier told the same commission, according to the Bloomberg news agency.

In this sense, Berrier does not rule out that Russia, despite being weakened by the conflict, may take “more aggressive actions” and that these extend beyond Ukraine.

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