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Putin was misled about early failures in Ukraine, reports indicates

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, Biden administration officials gave a classified briefing to lawmakers yesterday, including our next guest, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who's on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator, welcome back.

BOB CASEY: Hey, Steve, good to be with you. Thank you.

INSKEEP: Let's talk about this public statement that the U.S. thinks it knows what Putin has been hearing and knows that he's been disappointed because he's realized he's misinformed. Why do you think the United States would publicly make such announcements?

CASEY: Well, Steve, I think it's another example - and I'll base this upon the reporting, I guess, mostly by The New York Times, if not exclusively, about the - you know, what he's been hearing or not hearing. And that's significant because it's another demonstration where the United States has information that we can provide to the world about, you know, Putin's next move or his military's next move. So I think it's significant that our intelligence community has been able to get a range of information about a range of subject areas that give - not only give us an advantage in the West, but especially on the ground in Ukraine. So I don't - I haven't looked at that - you know, I haven't looked at that closely, the information that the article is based on. But we'll take a closer look at it. But I think it's encouraging that we've got that kind of insight. But I think it's pretty clear right now that this war is not playing out the way Putin intended.

INSKEEP: Do you think that the audience for this announcement was Putin himself, it's the United States almost taunting him, saying, we know what you're thinking, we know the information you've been receiving?

CASEY: Well, I don't want to speak for the intelligence committee or administration. But there's no question that one of the things that Russia has done - and before that, the Soviet Union - did, with a lot of skill, was to get a lot of disinformation out. The good news on what we've heard from the intelligence committee on these issues over the last couple of months is this is accurate information. This is accurate information about what's happening. And I think that's to our great advantage.

INSKEEP: As you watch this news of troop movements in Ukraine and Russian announcements of various kinds, what do you assume Russia is doing?

CASEY: Well, I'm going to take the guidance that we've heard from the Defense Department and other military experts that they might be repositioning. We should assume that the Russian military will continue to move forward on offensives. And this is going to be a long, difficult fight ahead. I hope I'm wrong about that. We should assume the worst and continue, I think, the kind of ever-flowing stream of weapons and military support for the Ukrainian military and for the Ukrainian people. The good news is, just on the military support, since the Biden administration started, $2 billion already. And the president announced more money just yesterday, so more and more help for weapons that are going to be critical to winning the war.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk that through. How does the need for support change and evolve as this goes from a weeks-long war to a months-long war? And of course, you're right to assume it could be a years-long war. We really have no idea. How does the need for support, the specific kinds of equipment or aid, change as the timeline gets longer and longer?

CASEY: Well, it may change - or it will change, I think, certainly by way of volume, the volume of weapons. For example, the Javelins that we've heard so much about - the longer range, shoulder-fired weapons that have taken out tanks and been so successful - to date, the best numbers are that we've provided 2,600 of those. But another 2,000 are on the way. But that volume may go - may have to go way up. Same is true of the Stingers, the kind of small, portable, shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles. So we've provided 600. There's another 800 on the way. So the volume might have to change. But also, the quality or the type of weaponry might have to change to deal with the threats on the ground. But the good news is American taxpayers have helped the fighters in Ukraine substantially.

INSKEEP: What, if anything, scares you?

CASEY: Well, that over time that somehow support or focus or the prioritization of this conflict in terms of our debates in Washington and around the country will begin to fade or to wane. We've got to be determined to keep a focus on this.

INSKEEP: Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.

CASEY: Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.