U.S. Intel Officials Detail Threats From China, Russia
by Jim Garamone, DOD New
March 12, 2022
Avril Haines, the director of National
Intelligence, discussed the intelligence community's assessment of
China and Russia ... America's strategic competitors ... during
testimony before Congress on March 8, 2022.
Map of Europe, Asia, and Northern part of Africa with
countries identified including Russia and China.
Haines told the House Intelligence Committee
that China "remains an unparalleled priority for the intelligence
She said China is coming ever closer to being a
peer competitor to the United States economically, militarily and
"China is especially effective at bringing
together a coordinated whole of government approach to demonstrate
its strength, and to compel neighbors to acquiesce to its
preferences, including its territorial and maritime claims and
assertions of sovereignty over Taiwan," she told the House panel.
"President Xi Jinping and China's other leaders are determined to
force unification with Taiwan on Beijing's turns."
China would prefer to avoid an armed conflict, Chinese leaders have
stepped up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on the island.
"At the same time, Beijing is preparing to use military force if it
decides this is necessary," she said.
She noted that China
is also engaged in its largest ever nuclear force expansion and
arsenal diversification effort in its history. The Chinese want to
match or exceed U.S. capabilities in space. The nation also presents
"the broadest, most active and persistent cyber espionage threat to
U.S. government and private sector networks," she said.
Russia also remains a focus of
the intelligence community, deservedly so in light of Vladimir
Putin's "recent and tragic invasion of Ukraine, which has produced a
shock to the geopolitical order with implications for the future
that we are only beginning to understand, but are sure to be
consequential," she said.
The intelligence community
provided ample warning of Putin's plans, and U.S. officials shared
this intelligence with the world. "This is a case where I think all
of us wish we had been wrong," Haines said. "The invasion has in
fact proceeded consistent with the plan we assessed the Russian
military would follow."
Haines said Putin did not expect the
ferocious defense by Ukraine, nor did he expect the unified and fast
response by the world.
"Russia's failure to rapidly seize
Kyiv and overwhelm Ukrainian forces has deprived Moscow of the quick
military victory [they] probably had originally expected would
prevent the United States and NATO from being able to provide
meaningful military aid to Ukraine," she said. "Moreover, we assess
Moscow underestimated the strength of Ukraine's resistance and the
degree of internal military challenges we are observing, which
include an ill-constructed plan, morale issues and considerable
Even if Putin ignores the condemnation
of the world and the increasingly effective sanctions directed
against Russia "it will be especially challenging for the Russians
to hold and control Ukrainian territory and install a sustainable
pro-Russian regime in Kyiv in the face of what we assess is likely
to be a persistent and significant insurgency," she said.
Haines said the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have probably
suffered thousands of casualties, along with numerous civilian
deaths. "Moreover, Russian forces are at the very least operating
with reckless disregard for the safety of non-combatants," Haines
She criticized Russia for shelling civilian sites and
launching missiles into the hearts of Ukrainian cities. She also
specifically pointed out the Russian attack on a nuclear power plant
as the height of disdain for civilian safety.
unified response to Russian aggression almost certainly surprised
Moscow. "In particular, while Putin probably anticipated many of the
current sanctions to be imposed when he weighed the cost of the
invasion, we judge that he did not anticipate either the degree to
which the United States and its allies and partners would take steps
to undermine his capacity to mitigate Western actions," she said.
Putin also did not anticipate the pullback from Russia by private
Still, the intelligence community assesses
that Putin will escalate ... "essentially doubling down" ... to
achieve Ukrainian disarmament and neutrality to prevent it from
further integrating with the U.S. and NATO if it doesn't reach some
diplomatic negotiation, the director said.
"We assess Putin
feels aggrieved, the West does not give him proper deference and
perceive this as a war he cannot afford to lose," she said. "But
what he might be willing to accept as a victory may change over
time, given the significant costs he is incurring."
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