The head of the British intelligence service accounted for the atmosphere prevailing in the Russian forces and the Kremlin, which seems in disarray.
President Vladimir Putin is being misled by his advisers, who are “afraid to tell him the truth” about his “flawed” war strategy in Ukraine, where Russian troops sabotage equipment and accidentally shoot down their own planes, the British intelligence service has claimed. and American. Close allies, whose spies are striving to highlight Russia’s failures and Kremlin divisions, said Putin’s advisers were ‘too scared’ to tell him the full truth about Moscow’s setbacks, on the battlefield and the real impact of sanctions.
Hours after the White House released its intelligence report on the situation in Ukraine, the head of Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency, Jeremy Fleming, said in a speech at the Australian National University in Canberra on Thursday that the Russian leader had overestimated his army’s ability to to achieve results. a quick victory.
“We have seen Russian soldiers – out of arms and in low morale – refuse to carry out orders, sabotage their own equipment and even accidentally shoot down their own aircraft,” Fleming said. “And even if Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what is happening and the extent of these miscalculations must be clear to the regime,” he said.
Change of strategy
According to Jeremy Fleming, the Russian president underestimated Ukrainian opposition, the strength of the international coalition against him and the impact of economic sanctions. It is “pretty obvious” that Putin is poorly advised, agrees Marcus Hellyer, a defense analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.
According to him, the Western intelligence service is trying to sow dissent or create doubt about Vladimir Putin’s verdict in Russia. Whatever advice he receives, Mr Putin has the resources and is unlikely to agree to a deal unless he has something “very important” to present to the Russian people, he said.
“They may have realized that they can not completely defeat Ukraine, so they will adopt another strategy, which is to occupy the whole of the Donbass, to occupy the Black Sea coast as much as possible and use it (…) for their trade strategy.”
The statements reflect a briefing from the White House on U.S. intelligence released Wednesday. According to their information, Putin’s relationship with his military personnel has deteriorated. “We have information that we have now released that (Vladimir Putin) felt cheated by the Russian military,” said White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield.
In recent days, Ukrainian forces have recaptured territory, including Irpin, located on the strategic outskirts of Kiev, as the Russian offensive appears to have stalled, five weeks after the start of the invasion on 24 February. The US and British intelligence reports come as questions rise about the Russian president’s relationship with his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, who disappeared from public view for weeks before reappearing on March 26 in a television program.
Undated footage showed Mr Shoigu – who was referring to a meeting of the Ministry of Finance the day before – leading a meeting on Russia’s defense procurement. There are “persistent tensions” between Mr Putin and Moscow’s defense ministry, a consequence of the Russian leader’s distrust of his leadership, a senior US official in Washington has said.
According to Latvian-based Russian news site Meduza, Russian intelligence experts said the head of the FSB’s “fifth service”, Sergei Beseda, and his deputy, Anatoly Bolukh, had both been placed under house arrest as part of an investigation. The FSB Dosye, an investigative site specializing in the FSB’s work, said reports of large-scale purge within the institution were exaggerated. Mr. Beseda was indeed questioned by investigators but is still in office and has not been arrested, according to the website.
Mr. Bolukh was also questioned but has not been number two in the fifth service for several years, adds FSB Dosye. Cyber-attacks from Russia remain a threat so far, Jeremy Fleming further warned: “We have seen indicators that suggest that Russian cyber-actors are seeking targets in countries that oppose their actions.”
On the ground in Ukraine, Moscow uses mercenaries and foreign fighters to support its own forces. Among them is the Wagner group, which “shifts into high gear” after being active in the country since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. “The group acts as a shadow branch of the Russian military,” allowing Vladimir Putin to exempting himself from responsibility for “more risky operations”, he argued.