Putin ‘still wants to capture most of Ukraine’, US warns

The war in Ukraine will likely grind on for months to come, intelligence say (Picture: AFP)

Vladimir Putin still has plans to capture ‘most of Ukraine’ despite huge losses by Russian troops.

US intelligence agencies believe the Kremlin leader plans to make slow, but persistent, gains of territory.

Low morale and mounting deaths have weakened Moscow’s fighters, but the situation on the ground is still ‘very grim’.

According to Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence, the war in Ukraine could linger for a long time.

While Putin refocused his efforts on the Donbas region in March and April, she says his original aims still remain.

But the 69-year-old will unlikely achieve his goals anytime soon, she added.

Ms Haines told a US Commerce Department Conference: ‘We perceive a disconnect between Putin’s near-term military objectives in this area and his military’s capacity, a kind of mismatch between his ambitions and what the military is able to accomplish.

She added the invasion would continue ‘for an extended period of time’ and that on the ground in Ukraine ‘the picture remains pretty grim.’

FILE - 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. Haines told lawmakers recently that intelligence officials will review how they assess a foreign government's will to fight and capacity to fight. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Avril Haines says Vladimir Putin’s original goals remain the same as the war rages on (Picture: AP)
Ukrainian State Emergency Service firefighters work to take away debris at a shopping center burned after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Residents of the quiet, riverside city of Kremenchuk are reeling in the wake of a Russian airstrike that obliterated a shopping mall and killed at least 18. With dozens still missing, psychologists are working with families to help them through their grief and toward acceptance that they may never find their loved ones. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Russia recently targeted and destroyed a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk (Picture: AP)

The speech marked her first public comments by the intelligence chief since May.

While Putin’s aim remain the same as they did at the start of the conflict, she added that Russia was still only making ‘incremental gains, with no breakthrough’.

Troops have been making their way through the Donbas region, recently taking control of the city of Severodonetsk.

But progress has been slow in the face of Ukrainian resistance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with media during the 6th Caspian Summit in Ashgabat on June 29, 2022. (Photo by Dmitry AZAROV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by DMITRY AZAROV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin has a ‘mismatch’ between his aims and reality, Ms Haines says (Picture: Getty Images)
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 29, 2022 - Aftermath of a rocket attack on the Mashhidropryvid plant by the Russian troops, Kharkiv, northern Ukraine. This photo cannot be distributed in the Russian Federation. (Photo credit should read Vyacheslav Madiyevskyi/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
The aftermath of a rocket attack on the Mashhidropryvid plant in Ukraine (Picture: Getty Images)

Ms Haines’ comments came after a withdrawal of Russian troops from Snake Island, off the coast of Ukraine.

The island, which Russia occupied on the first day of its invasion, achieved worldwide fame when border guards stationed there rejected calls to surrender.

Footage had showed the Ukrainian soldiers telling sailors aboard the Moskva warship to ‘go f**k yourself’ over a loudspeaker.

Russia today said it has withdrawn from Snake Island off Ukraine’s Black Sea coast in what it calls a ‘gesture of goodwill’.

The country’s defence ministry claimed the move shows Moscow is not impeding United Nations efforts to organise a humanitarian corridor to export Ukrainian agricultural products.

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