Looking at the behavior of Russia's leadership, the Kremlin is preparing to prolong the war which means the West needs to be ready to support Ukraine in the long run, the head of Estonia's Foreign Intelligence Agency said on Friday.
"We must be ready for the war to last longer and Ukraine will need our support in the coming months and years," Mikk Marran told a Defense Ministry press conference.
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin still has ambitions to occupy the whole of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine and create a landbridge connecting the Crimean peninsula to Russia. Preferably, he would also cut Ukraine off from the sea altogether and create a connection between Crimea and Moldova's separatist Transnistrian region.
"At the same time, there is a growing gap between Putin's goals and the military capabilities of the Russian armed forces," Marran said. He believes Russia does not have the military means to achieve Putin's plans.
The Russian military has used a large part of its ammunition stockpile, which will take years to rebuild. There are also problems with replacing soldiers and low morale. Efforts to replace dead or injured soldiers are not going well, Marran said.
This is why the Kremlin is preparing for a long conflict in Ukraine and confrontation with the West, he said. The public will not be given messages of hope that difficult times will soon be over by the government.
The increased targeting and destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure also suggests the Russian government is preparing for a long war, he said.
The current situation gives little hope that the war can be solved with negotiations and neither side is agreeing to make concessions, Marran said.
Speaking about Russia's threats to use nuclear weapons, the intelligence chief said this is a normal part of Russia's playbook. The Kremlin hopes this will deter western countries from supporting Ukraine.
Nuclear threats will be used more often as Russia's prospects on the battlefield deteriorate, Marran said, adding he thinks it is unlikely nuclear weapons will be used.
Editor: Helen Wright