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Russia could shift to a strategy of holding and defending existing positions as it lacks the ammunition and troops to make significant territorial gains in Ukraine in 2023, Avril Haines, the director of U.S. national intelligence, said on March 8, cited by the New York Times.
According to Haines, after recent setbacks on the battlefield, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has begun to realize the challenges Russian forces are facing and may adjust his strategy in the short term.
Moscow may choose to prolong the war against Ukraine, even if it means long delaying offensive actions, as the best possibility to achieve its strategic goals, Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"Even as the Russian offensive continues, they are experiencing high casualty rates," the top intelligence official said, as quoted by NYT. In addition to personnel losses, the Russian military reportedly suffers from critical morale problems and ammunition shortages.
"If Russia does not initiate a mandatory mobilization and identify substantial third-party ammunition supplies, it will be increasingly challenging for them to sustain the current level of offensive operations in the coming months," added Haines.
She also said Russia was making "incremental progress" in the embattled city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast, but it was not a "particularly strategic objective."
Haines' words echoed recent remarks by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the fall of Bakhmut would not be a significant setback for the Ukrainian military.