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Ukraine war

What is Putin thinking? Spy agencies size up Ukraine moves

Sanctions said to enrage isolated Russian leader with finger on nuclear button

Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB agent, has long been a "hard target" for Western espionage.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- "I personally think he's unhinged. I really worry about his acuity and balance right now." Former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gave this assessment of Russian President Vladimir Putin on CNN this week.

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues to escalate and threats of nuclear conflict enter the picture, understanding Putin's mental state has become a matter of growing urgency for Western intelligence agencies -- a difficult task, as the ex-KGB agent is a "hard target" for espionage, and notoriously difficult to read.

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