The intelligence chiefs suggested the US is on guard against such possibilities. “We’re always thinking about Iran and their actions,” Berrier said, “within the region against our neighbors and certainly our forces there.”
In addition, the US “is worried about North Korea, for sure,” Haines interjected. She pointed to Pyongyang’s “ballistic missile development timeline, as well as potential nuclear testing” as concerns.
Senators pressed Haines and Berrier to lay out their expectations about the future course of the Ukraine war, which is almost three months old. The Biden administration had predicted it would end with a Russian victory within a matter of a few weeks. That made some lawmakers skeptical about official predictions.
Berrier said the war had reached a stalemate. Haines said the conflict would become more and more “unpredictable,” but played down the likelihood that Putin would order the use of nuclear weapons to crush resistance.
There is no “imminent potential” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin to “use nuclear weapons,” she declared.
The future depends on Russia’s immediate strategy, Berrier said. “If Russia doesn’t declare war and mobilize, the stalemate is going to continue for a while,” he said.
If, on the other hand, Russia intensifies its ground assault, “That would bring thousands more soldiers … and a whole lot more ammunition to the fight.”
From the testimony, it was unclear who has more to fear from the outcome: the West, if Ukraine is defeated; or China, if its nominal ally Russia is routed.
The Biden administration is pouring billions of dollars worth of weaponry into the fray, as are European allies. Yet no one asked how Ukraine’s Western allies would respond if Russia indeed intensified the war and what it would cost.
Much less did anyone probe how China might react if Russia should find itself in danger of defeat, or for instance, whether Beijing would help if Moscow requested weapon supplies to fill depleted stocks.