CIA Director Backs Increased Ukraine Funding

CIA Director William Burns | Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

CIA director William Burns claims that the Russia-Ukraine War has weakened Vladimir Putin, warning that discontinuing American funding for the Ukrainian war effort would be a mistake.

Burns wrote in a recent op-ed for Foreign Affairs that President Joe Biden’s administration is navigating “profound shifts in the international landscape” that happen “only a few times each century.” He argued that the United States is confronting a moment as consequential as the Cold War or 9/11, driven in part by what he deemed “Russia’s revanchism.” 

The head of the CIA claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was driven to invade Ukraine out of personal grievance, ambition, and insecurity. Putin maintains a “fixation on controlling Ukraine” because he believes “it is impossible for Russia to be a great power or for him to be a great Russian leader” without control of Ukraine, Burns said.

He argued that the war has instead “brought shame” to Russia and “exposed its weaknesses.” 

The CIA director outlined several reasons why he believes that Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine have failed. First, he cited Russia’s failure to seize the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the subsequent failure to consolidate control over the rest of Ukraine. Second, Burns claimed that Russian armed forces suffered 315,000 casualties and that two-thirds of Russia’s pre-war tank stock was eliminated. 

Burns said these figures and Russian mercenary leader Prigozhin’s June 2023 mutiny exposed “dysfunction” within Putin’s regime that gives the United States a “chance” to inflict “strategic defeat” on Russia. He added that “the key to success lies in preserving Western aid for Ukraine.”

The op-ed was published as budget negotiations between Biden and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) remained gridlocked over disagreements on Ukraine funding and security at the U.S-Mexico border. 

The European Union is also facing internal opposition to continued Ukraine funding. Hungary, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a Putin ally, has withheld consent from a four-year, €50 billion (approximately US$54.1 billion) aid package. 

Hungarian officials accused the European Union of blackmail after EU officials outlined a strategy to sabotage the Hungarian economy if Orban did not lift his veto on the EU’s Ukrainian aid package. 

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