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Putin ‘too healthy’, CIA director says

The head of the CIA said that Vladimir Putin is “probably to healthy”, downplaying rumors that he is suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer.

In a rare public appearance William Burns also stated that Russia’s leader would be proven wrong by believing he can win a bloody conflict against Ukraine – just as he was wrong to believe his forces could capture Kyiv in the first few days.

The spymaster addressed a variety of topics at an Aspen security forum, Colorado. He warned that the danger of Chinese forces invading Taiwan in the next decade will increase.

He stated that the determination of Chinese President Xi Jinping to seize control over the territory must not be underestimated.

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When Mr. Burns was asked whether he believed Mr. Putin was unstable or unhealthy, he replied:

Mr Burns stated that he was probably too healthy, but he added that it was an “informal intelligence judgment”.

Former US ambassador to Moscow, the CIA chief has been watching and dealing with Mr Putin for over two decades.

Read more about China

He stated that the president believed his destiny to restore Russia as a great country. This was made possible by the control of Ukraine.

The latest estimate by the US intelligence community of the Russian invasion casualty toll, which is now in its fifth month, was presented by Mr Burns. It stood at approximately 15,000 Russian deaths and three times as many wounded.

He stated that the Ukrainian death toll was just as high, if not more than those in Russia.

Image: CIA Director William Burns meets US President Joe Biden in the middle of this month. Pic: AP

Continue reading: Russia is ‘laying the foundation’ for annexed territory

According to the CIA director, the Kremlin would continue with a war against attrition believing that the West would not support Ukraine.

He said that Mr Putin had made a mistake with his initial invasion plans and failed to seize Kyiv by lightning strike.

He insists that Ukraine does not exist, but true countries fight back.”

Subscribe to the Ukraine War Diaries Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Spotify, Spotify, Spreaker, and Spotify.

At the Aspen Security Forum, Mr Burns answered questions from Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s Chief International Affairs Correspondent. He also discussed another challenge – China, and specifically the fate of Taiwan.

In the coming days, President Joe Biden will be speaking with his Chinese counterpart. This comes at a time when tensions are simmering between some of the most powerful countries in the world, especially over the fate of democratically-ruled Taiwan.

The US leader stated America would respond militarily to any attack by China on Taiwan.

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Burns stated that such engagement was necessary given the “complicated, dangerous rivalries”.

The CIA chief stated that he would not underestimate President Xi’s determination to assert People Republic of China’s control over Taiwan.

“I believe he is determined that his army has the capability to take such an action should it be decided to move in that direction [in terms] of using military force.

“I believe that the risk of that increases, it seems, the further you go into this decade.”

Continue reading: China poses greatest ‘game-changing’ challenge, MI5 and FBI chiefs warn

Burns stated that China’s military and political leaders are “unsettled” to some degree about Russia’s attack against Ukraine, particularly in the first week.

This was due to Russia’s weakening military performance, the effects of war on the global economy, and the fact that Putin’s actions have brought European allies closer to the US.

China, at the same time is trying to learn from Russia’s invasion and plan for Taiwan.

The CIA director stated that “I think our sense of it [the lessons learned from Russia’s War] probably less affects the question whether the Chinese leadership might choose force down to the road in Taiwan control, but how and when they would do so.”

Burns stated that the Chinese military and leadership have learned a lot from Mr Burns. He said, “I think the lesson they are learning is you have to mass overwhelming force.”

Beijing would need to influence global opinion to support any offensive, protect its economic from the effects of sanctions and attempt to fracture relations between the US & countries in the Indo-Pacific.

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