Vladimir Putin still wants most of Ukraine - US intel chief

Ukraine to NATO: Russia wants to dictate world order, enslave Lithuania • Separatist official says 144 prisoners swapped with Kyiv

 Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 17, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV)
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 17, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV)

Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants to seize most of Ukraine, but his forces are so degraded by combat that they likely can only achieve incremental gains in the near term, the top US intelligence officer said Wednesday.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, outlining the current US intelligence assessment of the more than four-month war, said that the consensus of US spy agencies is that it will grind on "for an extended period of time."

"In short, the picture remains pretty grim and Russia's attitude toward the West is hardening," Haines told a Commerce Department conference.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told NATO leaders on Wednesday his country needed more weapons and money to defend itself against Russia, warning that Moscow's ambitions did not stop at Ukraine.

"This is a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe - for what the future world order will be like."

Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky

"This is not a war being waged by Russia against only Ukraine. This is a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe - for what the future world order will be like," he said in a virtual address to a summit of the Western defense alliance in Madrid. Zelensky further said that Russia wants to "enslave" the Baltic nation of Lithuania.

"That is why it is absolutely necessary to support Ukraine, even now, with weapons, finances and political sanctions against Russia, which will stop its ability to pay for the war."

Missiles and air defenses

He said Ukraine needed modern missile and air defense systems and further stressed the need for NATO assistance in defending Ukraine from Russia's ongoing invasion and said the country would need $5 billion a month.

 Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on the screen during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain June 29, 2022. (credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS) Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on the screen during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain June 29, 2022. (credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)

"By providing them to us, you can completely break Russia's tactics to destroy cities and terrorize civilians," he said.

Moscow calls its actions a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

Separatist official says 144 prisoners swapped with Kyiv 

The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine said on Wednesday that it had carried out a prisoner exchange with Kyiv involving 144 fighters on each side.

"Today, we are returning home 144 fighters of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Russian Federation who were captured by the enemy," Denis Pushilin wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "We handed over to Kyiv the same number of prisoners from Ukrainian armed units, most of whom were wounded."

This is a developing story.