Ex-CIA Russia chief: Putin proving doubters wrong on Ukraine

Ex-CIA chief of Russia operations Steve Hall said Sunday he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin is proving to his doubters that he was right to expect the United States to lose its “nerve” and eventually stop aiding Ukraine as Russia presses forward in its war.

“This has been a very good couple of weeks for Vladimir Putin, and I think we can see that just in his demeanor and what he’s done and said,” Hall said in an interview on CNN, where he is a national security analyst.

“I think Vladimir Putin is now beginning to be able to tell all of those doubters” that they were wrong, Hall said. “And by doubters, I don’t mean people in the streets who might be protesting; I mean those around him, you know, his innermost circle who might have said, ‘Jeez, is this really going to work?’”

Hall’s comments come as Congress continues to struggle to get President Biden’s months-old Ukraine aid request to the president’s desk. The Senate has passed a national security package that includes $60 billion for Ukraine, but House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has refused to take it up, as conservatives have increasingly expressed concern about aid for Ukraine.

Hall said that was Putin’s bet all along.

“Initially, he was essentially saying, ‘Look over the long run, if we hold in there, the West and the United States, specifically, will lose focus, they’ll lose their nerve, they will stop supporting Ukraine, one way or another. Just have patience,’” he said.

“Well, now, two years later, he can say, ‘Look, the patience is beginning to pay off.’ It’s up to the West again to show him that he’s wrong, but I think he’s feeling very good about things and will continue along the same path that really he’s been continuing since the very beginning,” Hall continued.

Hall is one of many national security experts calling on Congress to send a clear message in support of Ukraine, as the war enters its third year. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned of the danger of not supplying more aid, as Ukrainian troops continue to die and ammunition slowly starts to run out.

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