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Russia ‘Does Not Want a Direct Conflict with U.S. Forces,’ Intelligence Community Assessed in January

IC said Moscow wants US recognition of its ‘claimed sphere of influence’ over much of the former USSR
Gutted cars following a night air raid in the village of Bushiv, 40 kilometers west of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Gutted cars following a night air raid in the village of Bushiv, 40 kilometers west of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

US intelligence officials in January assessed that Russia did “not want a direct conflict with U.S. forces,” but instead, sought “U.S. recognition” of its “claimed sphere of influence” over much of the former Soviet Union.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday released its 2022 annual threat assessment, which was submitted in early February. The assessment only includes intelligence through the end of January—weeks before Russia launched its multi-front war against Ukraine.

The intelligence community’s assessment states that Russia “will remain an influential power and a formidable challenge to the United States amidst the changing geopolitical landscape during the next decade.”

The IC assessed that Russia will continue to pursue its interests in “competitive and sometimes confrontational and provocative ways.”

The IC, at the time, said Russia would press “to dominate Ukraine and other countries in its ‘near-abroad,’ while exploring possibilities to achieve a more stable relationship with Washington.”

“We assess that Russia does not want a direct conflict with U.S. Forces,” the IC assessed in January. “Russia seeks an accommodation with the United States on mutual noninterference in both countries’ domestic affairs and U.S. recognition of Russia’s claimed sphere of influence over much of the former Soviet Union.”

The intelligence community explained that Russian officials have long believed that the United States is trying to undermine Russia, “weaken” Russian President Vladimir Putin, and “install Western-friendly regimes in the former Soviet states and elsewhere,”—moves, the IC said, Russian officials “conclude gives Russia leeway to retaliate.”

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