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War in Ukraine Has Weakened Putin, C.I.A. Director Writes

WorldWar in Ukraine Has Weakened Putin, C.I.A. Director Writes

The war in Ukraine has “quietly corroded” the power of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, wrote in an essay published on Tuesday.

While Mr. Putin’s grip on power was unlikely to soon weaken, Mr. Burns wrote in Foreign Affairs, disaffection had “gnawed away at the Russian leadership and the Russian people,” allowing the C.I.A. to recruit more spies.

The agency has made a series of videos aimed at recruiting Russian officials. The most recent, released last week, encourages Russians to securely provide information to the C.I.A. using a secure browser on the dark web. The latest video makes an appeal to their anger over corruption in the Russian government.

While the U.S. government will not say how many spies have been recruited with the videos, officials said the agency would not have continued to push them on Telegram and YouTube if they were not effective. Mr. Burns echoed this sentiment in his article.

“That undercurrent of disaffection is creating a once-in-a-generation recruiting opportunity for the C.I.A.,” he wrote. “We are not letting it go to waste.”

Part of Mr. Putin’s weakness stems from his handling of the mutiny last year by members of Russia’s most powerful mercenary group. He looked “detached and indecisive” in the face of the mutiny led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, Mr. Burns wrote.

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