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British intelligence chief says Russia will soon ‘run out of steam’ in Ukraine

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ASPEN, Col. – The head of British intelligence said the Russian military campaign in Ukraine is likely to “run out of steam” in the coming weeks amid shortages of materials and manpower as the Moscow invasion is about to enter its sixth month .

“They’re going to have to pause somehow,” Richard Moore, the head of MI6, said in comments to the Aspen Security Forum — rare public comments from the serving head of British intelligence. Russian troops probably had lost about 15,000 troops, he said, calling the number a “conservative estimate.” That’s about the number of casualties the Russian military suffered over the course of 10 years during the war in Afghanistan, Moore noted.

A pause by Russian troops would “give the Ukrainians a chance to strike back,” Moore said on Thursday. He said the morale of the Ukrainian armed forces remains high and the army is receiving powerful weapons from the West. Moore urged the arms flow to continue so Ukraine could win the war or be in a stronger position to negotiate with Russia.

He also praised the degree of Western solidarity since the Russian invasion. “NATO has proved extremely united in this,” Moore said, pointing out that Sweden had given up 200 years of military non-alignment to join the alliance, along with Finland.

Moore described the Russian invasion as an “epic failure” that failed to account for the stiff resistance the invading forces would face. “They have clearly completely misunderstood Ukrainian nationalism. They completely underestimate the level of resistance the Russian military would face.”

Russian officials also failed to accurately brief President Vladimir Putin about the invasion’s challenges and costs to Russia, Moore said. In Putin’s government, “it doesn’t pay to speak the truth to power.”

Leading up to the invasion and in the months that followed, there has been widespread speculation that Putin is ill, possibly with cancer, and he has been portrayed as more eccentric and irrational. However, Moore dismissed rumors that the Russian president is ill, saying, “There is no evidence that Putin is seriously ill.”

His comments echoed CIA Director William J. Burns, who joked earlier this week that “as far as we can tell, he’s completely too healthy.”

The United States is also considering sending more advanced weapons to Ukraine, amid Kiev’s fears that Russian troops could entrench themselves further if the war drags into winter. “After winter, when the Russians have more time to dig in, it will definitely get more difficult,” Ukraine’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said on Tuesday.

Those weapons could be combat aircraft, General Charles Q. Brown Jr., the U.S. Air Force chief of staff, said Wednesday.

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