Top US spy chief warns Russia is inflicting a 'winter of woe' on Ukraine

A man cooks on an outdoors stove in Ukraine.
Ukraine has been forced into rolling blackouts as Vladimir Putin squeezes its energy supplies. Credit: AP

Ukraine faces a "winter of woe" with Russia hitting its energy infrastructure and both sides struggling to make significant progress on the battlefield, according to one of the United States’ top spy chiefs.

In a blunt assessment, Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, drew parallels with the trench warfare of the First World War, telling ITV News there was no evidence the winter would bring an immediate resolution to the war, despite the optimism expressed by some Ukrainian officials.  

"When I look at the current state of play, I would refer to it as maybe a winter of woe" Berrier said during a visit to London.

"We’ve got a lot of Ukrainians right now that are suffering because of the attacks that the Russians have conducted on the energy grid, the water resources, and their infrastructure, that's going take a long time to repair.

"We have this state of play where we're now kind of going back to a World War One style, where we've got lines and it looks like it might be static for the next few months, and unless negotiating positions change, and I don't have anything to tell me that that's going to happen anytime soon, I think we’re stuck in a stalemate here," he said during a conversation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"And the future of this conflict, I think, remains to be seen. It would be premature for me to call that here."

Lieutenant General Scott Berrier told ITV News the war in Ukraine has taken on a 'World War One style'

Despite their accurate predictions of an invasion during the weeks before the war began, Berrier concedes that he and other senior American officials underestimated the capacity of Ukrainian forces to resist an assault. It was widely expected that Russia would conquer Ukraine within a few days of the start of the invasion.

"I was very happy with DI's [defence intelligence] assessment of when it would happen and what their intent was.

"I think we with other partners in the USIC [United States Intelligence Community] called that fairly early."

Lieutenant General Berrier said he was 'very happy' with the accuracy of US intelligence building up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine

"I thought we could have done better on looking at the Russian Army as a whole and how effective they would be. We thought they would be more effective.

"In fact, I was on record saying it would go pretty badly, pretty quickly.

"But the Ukrainians turned out to be very, very resilient. They also had great leadership with President Zelenskyy, and they turned it around."

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