The Washington PostThe Washington Post

In Putin, intelligence analysts see an isolated leader who underestimated the West but could lash out if cornered

By Shane Harris, John Hudson, Missy Ryan and Souad Mekhennet

02 Mar 2022 · 5 min read

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its second week, U.S. and European intelligence officials say that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears isolated and reliant on a small coterie of advisers who have not told him the truth about how difficult and costly conquering Ukraine is turning out to be.

In Putin, analysts see a leader on edge, fueled by paranoia after underestimating the unified resolve of the West and at risk of lashing out when he feels cornered. Those concerns have led some policymakers to repeatedly note that NATO will not intervene in the war lest there be any doubt in Putin's mind.

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