The director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) claims that the conflict in Ukraine is having a "corrosive" impact on Vladimir Putin's ability to lead Russia.
According to William J. Burns, director of the CIA, Russian discontent with the war is giving the agency new chances to gather intelligence.
While delivering the annual lecture at the Ditchley Foundation in the UK, America's top spy made the remarks.
A week had passed since Yevgeny Prigozhin, the director of Wagner, staged a coup.
The scenes of Prigozhin's "armed challenge" to Moscow last Saturday, when his Wagner mercenary forces marched towards the Russian capital, Mr. Burns claimed, had "riveted" everyone.
He claimed that Prigozhin's actions served as "a stark reminder of the destructive effect of Putin's war on his own society and his own regime.".
The CIA director predicted that Prigozhin's statements, which included an attack on the justification and method of Russia's invasion, would have a long-lasting effect.
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Burns stated that "disaffection with the war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership.". .
"That disaffection creates a once in a generation opportunity for us at CIA," he said, referring to the organization's work in selecting human spies.
To laughter from the audience, he declared, "We are not letting it go to waste.". "Our doors are wide open for business. ".
The CIA recently started a new social media campaign to try and reach people in Russia, which included a video posted to the widely used Russian social media platform Telegram. The campaign offered guidelines for contacting the CIA anonymously on the dark web.
20.5 million people watched this video in its first week.
Director Burns also reaffirmed the assertion made by other US officials in the past that the US was not involved in Prigozhin's mutiny.
He didn't specifically address recent Washington Post reports that he visited the Ukrainian capital in secret before the mutiny.
According to reports, discussions also covered the prospect that if significant territory was taken, the counteroffensive by Ukraine might advance, allowing for negotiations to proceed from a position of strength.
A "healthy dose of humility about pontificating about Putin and Russia," according to Mr. Burns, who previously held the position of US Ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008. He said spending the majority of the last two decades trying to understand Russian President Putin had given him a "healthy dose of humility.".
But he added that one lesson he had learned was that it was never a good idea to underestimate Mr. Putin's obsession with governing Ukraine.
Without Ukraine, the Russian leader believed, neither Russia nor Mr. Putin could be world powers or outstanding leaders.
According to Mr. Burns, "that tragic and brutish fixation has already brought Russia to shame and exposed its flaws.". .
"Putin's war has already been a strategic failure for Russia: its military weaknesses exposed, its economy severely hurt for years to come, and its future as a minor partner and economic colony of China being shaped by Putin's errors. ".
The CIA director said that given the two nations' significant economic interdependence, it would be foolish for the US to try to decouple from China.
"China is the only nation with the intent to change the international order and increasingly the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so," he said.
In its place, the US should "sensibly de-risk and diversify by securing resilient supply chains, protecting our technological edge, and investing in industrial capacity," he continued.