Vladimir Putin being “misled” by Russian officials over the appalling status of the nation’s war effort in Ukraine because they are afraid to tell him the truth, the United States has claimed.
“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in ongoing tensions between Putin and his military leadership,” Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director, told reporters during a news briefing.
“We believe Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is doing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his top advisers are too scared to tell him the truth,” she added.
European sources agreed with the assessment. A diplomat told Reuters: “Putin thought things were going better than they were. The problem is to surround yourself with ‘yes men’ or just sit with them at the end of a very long table.”
An official added that Russian soldiers “were misled, poorly trained and then arrived to find old Ukrainian women resembling their grandmothers shouting at them to go home.”
Russian forces on Wednesday bombed the outskirts of the capital Kiev and the besieged city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine. a day after Russia promised to scale down military operations in both cities.
The British Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that Russia’s efforts to focus on an offensive in eastern Ukraine, away from the capital, “are probably an admission that it is struggling to maintain more than one major axis of advance”.
It added that some Russian entities suffering heavy losses “have been forced to return to Belarus and Russia to reorganize and supply … which puts further pressure on Russia’s already strained logistics.”
The head of Britain’s GCHQ spy agency, Sir Jeremy Fleming, will in a speech on Thursday claim that Russian troops have mistakenly shot down their own planes.
“We have seen Russian soldiers – with a lack of weapons and morals – refuse to carry out orders, sabotage their own equipment and even accidentally shoot down their own planes,” he said in a speech followed by his visit to Australia. .
“And while we believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, it must be crystal clear to the regime what is going on and the extent of these misjudgments.
“It all boils down to the strategic miscalculation that Western leaders warned Putin it would be. It has become his personal war, where the costs are paid by innocent people in Ukraine and increasingly also by ordinary Russians. “