US intelligence believes that Russia will not stop at the Donbas and will continue its offensive on Nikolaev and Odessa to reach the borders of Moldova and Transnistria.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haynes said:
According to our estimates, President Putin is preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine, during which he still intends to achieve goals outside the Donbass.
The Crimea land corridor solves the problem of water resources in Crimea, but this, according to US intelligence, is not Putin’s ultimate goal.
Probably, Putin will mobilize in Russia and declare martial law because the existing military grouping of Russian troops does not allow to hold the territories of the Black Sea region and even more so to move towards Nikolaev and Odessa.
Information about preparations for mobilization appears from time to time on social networks.
Putin is faced with a mismatch between his political ambitions and Russia’s military capabilities.
However, it must be understood that mobilization in Russia destroys the invisible social contract between the government and the people, which looks like this: “We steal and show you the greatness of Russia on TV, you do not interfere in our affairs.”
But it’s one thing to watch sitting on the couch how brave guys in green camouflage show the greatness of Russia on the battlefield and quite another when you yourself need to go on the attack on angry and motivated Ukrainian soldiers.
It is difficult to say how the mobilization in Russia may end, it may well turn out that a significant part of the mobilized will end up in the ‘Freedom of Russia’ legion and will knock on the doors of Putin’s bunker with the butts of their machine guns.
Putin believes that Russia is more willing to face challenges than its adversaries and expects that the resolve of the United States and the EU will weaken as inflation and energy prices increase, but current events show that this is not the case.
This can be seen in the example of Germany, the largest consumer of Russian hydrocarbons, which plans to completely abandon Russian oil and coal this year, and gas by 2024.
The signing of the Lend-Lease Law by US President Joe Biden clearly indicates that in this war the West is betting on Ukraine, not Russia.
The situation becomes even more unpredictable given the rhetoric of Putin, who in March and April of this year three times mentioned the possibility of using nuclear weapons.
There is no doubt that Putin will use tactical nuclear weapons in the event of an “existential threat.” For example, if the Armed Forces of Ukraine try to seize the Crimea or cross the border of Russia in the Bryansk or Belgorod regions.
In this case, however, a global nuclear war is imminent because NATO has warned Putin several times that his use of nuclear weapons would inevitably entail a nuclear strike on Russia.
All this is happening against the backdrop of a catastrophic shortage of personnel of the Russian army on the territory of Ukraine. According to Pentagon experts , in the last 2 weeks, Russian troops failed to demonstrate any significant success while AFU launched a counteroffensive near Kharkiv.
This makes the imposition of martial law and the mobilization of reservists an increasingly clear prospect.