Russia will unlikely be able to launch a "significant offensive operation this year" in Ukraine as it lacks ammunition and troops, Director of U.S. National Intelligence Avril Haines said on May 4, adding that it doesn't depend on the outcome of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
"In fact, if Russia does not initiate a mandatory mobilization and secure substantial third-party ammunition supplies beyond existing deliveries from Iran and others, it will be increasingly challenging for them to sustain even modest offensive operations," Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee, as quoted by CNN.
According to the U.S. intelligence chief, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has likely scaled back his short-term ambitions in Ukraine to consider a victory "to consolidate control of the occupied territory in eastern and southern Ukraine, and ensuring that Ukraine will never become a NATO ally."
However, Haines considers it unlikely that Putin will agree to pause the war this year unless political factors "alter his thinking."
She added that the Russian military was preparing "new defensive positions" ahead of a Ukrainian counteroffensive and had "gained less territory in April than during any of the three previous months."
Ukraine's preparations for an upcoming counteroffensive are "coming to an end" as the military undergoes training on Western-provided weapons, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on April 28.
As of today, Ukraine has received almost all of the military supplies, including combat vehicles, promised to them by NATO and intended to support the counteroffensive, which could begin as soon as May, some U.S. officials say.
The outcome of the counteroffensive is expected to be a critical turning point in the war that will determine whether Ukraine reclaims more of its territory or is pressured by allies to meet with Russia at the negotiating table.