Putin preparing for long war in Ukraine - US spy chief

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin is preparing for a long war in Ukraine, the US is warning, and a Russian victory in the eastern region of Donbas might not end its attack.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines tells a Senate hearing the next few months could see Russian actions escalate and become more unpredictable.

"The current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will turn to more drastic means," Haines says.

She warns Russia could seek a land bridge to the breakaway Moldovan territory of Transnistria and says it's likely President Putin will seek to impose martial law in Russia.

Haines says Putin is counting on the resolve of the US and of Ukraine's European allies to weaken over time.

But she thinks the Kremlin will only authorise the use of nuclear weapons if Putin perceives an "existential threat" to Russia.

Credit: The BBC