Ukraine: US intelligence says Moscow 'does not want' direct conflict

By: AFP      Published: 10:17 PM, 13 Apr, 2021
Ukraine: US intelligence says Moscow 'does not want' direct conflict

Russia "does not want a direct conflict" with the United States, even if it will "continue destabilization efforts against Ukraine," the US intelligence community said Tuesday in its annual report on global threats.

Moscow "will continue to employ a variety of tactics this year" aimed at undermining the United States and dividing Western alliances, the report by the director of national intelligence said, as tensions with Russia grow over Ukraine.

"In the former Soviet Union, Moscow is well positioned to increase its role in the Caucasus, intervene in Belarus if it deems necessary, and continue destabilization efforts against Ukraine while settlement talks remain stalled and low-level fighting continues," it continued.

"We expect Moscow to seek opportunities for pragmatic cooperation with Washington on its own terms, and we assess that Russia does not want a direct conflict with US forces," the 27-page report added, however. 

The report came as US President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to ease mounting tensions with Ukraine and proposed a summit between the two leaders in a third country.

Tensions have soared in recent days over Russian movements at the Ukrainian border, with the United States saying that troop levels are at their highest since 2014 when war first broke out with Moscow-backed separatists.

The report also warned that the embattled Afghan government "will struggle" to hold off the "confident" Taliban if a US-led international coalition withdraws this year as planned.

"We assess that prospects for a peace deal will remain low during the next year. The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support," the report said.