Vladimir Putin's War Has Exposed Weakness of Russian Military: CIA Director

CIA Director Bill Burns has said that Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine had highlighted the shortcomings of Russia's military.

Burns told a cybersecurity conference in Washington, D.C, on Thursday how it was "hard to see the record of the war—Putin's record—as anything other than a failure so far."

"Not only has the weakness of the Russian military been exposed, but there's going to be long-term damage done to the Russian economy and to generations of Russians as a result of this," he said.

"Russia is going to pay a very heavy price, I think over a long period of time," he added, according to CNN. Newsweek has contacted Russia's Defense Ministry for comment.

It comes as Ukraine has claimed successes in a counteroffensive in the country's south and in the Kharkiv region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on September 8, 2022. CIA Director Bill Burns has described Putin's invasion of Ukraine as a "failure." Gavriil Grigorov/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address on Thursday that over the last week, Ukraine had recaptured more than 1,000 sq km (390 sq miles) of territory, which is almost the size of New York City, water areas included, and "liberated dozens of settlements."

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that the gains in Kharkiv showed that it was capable of "de-occupying its territories" and that Russian troops "have to get out."

He added that it also showed Ukraine can "effectively use modern Western weapons."

General Mark Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), had been used for strikes on more than 400 Russian targets so far.

The range and speed of HIMARS, 16 of which the U.S. has sent Ukraine, have allowed its forces to hit Russian ammunition depots and command posts. Milley announced that more ammunition would be part of the latest $675 million security assistance package.

Retired Australian Major General Mick Ryan said he agreed with Burns' assessment because Putin's strategy was based on "very flawed" assumptions. "That the Ukrainians would not fight, that Ukraine was not a real country; and that the West would either not intervene or would not do so decisively."

"Because the military based their planning on these, they were caught wrong-footed with their force structure," Ryan told Newsweek, referring to a lack of logistics, air support and air superiority.

"They attempted a hugely risky multi-pronged advance that they would not have attempted against an enemy they would have thought would fight. Strategic errors informed bad military and diplomatic planning," said Ryan, author of War Transformed: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Great Power Competition and Conflict.

"The reason this matters is because effective strategic thinking, and strategic leadership, is more important than tactical excellence," he added.