WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir V. Putin was misled by his advisers about Russian troops’ fight in Ukraine, according to declassified U.S. intelligence.
The intelligence showed what appeared to be growing tensions between Putin and the Defense Department, including Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was once one of the most trusted members of the Kremlin’s inner circle, according to multiple U.S. officials.
Speaking in Algiers, Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken acknowledged that the information Putin had received from his advisers was not true.
“About President Putin, look, what I can tell you is, I said before, one of the Achilles’ heels of dictatorships is that in those systems, no one speaks the truth to power, or the ability to speak truth to power. ,” said Mr Blinken. “I think that’s what we’re seeing in Russia.”
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, John F. Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department did not believe Mr. Putin could obtain an accurate account of his military’s defeat in Ukraine.
“We agree with the conclusion that Mr Putin has not been adequately informed by his defence ministry at every turn in the last month,” Mr Kirby said.
“If Mr Putin is misled or doesn’t understand what’s going on inside Ukraine, it’s his army, it’s his war, and he chose it,” Mr Kirby said. “So the fact that he may not have all the context — he may not fully understand the extent to which his forces have failed in Ukraine, is a little disturbing to be honest.”
Other U.S. officials say Mr Putin’s strict isolation during the pandemic and willingness to publicly denounce advisers who disagree with him has contributed to a degree of scrutiny. Russian military high-level vigilance, even fear. Officials believe Putin has received incomplete or overly optimistic reports on the progress of the Russian military, leading to his distrust of military advisers.
According to U.S. officials, Mr. Putin does not appear to be genuinely aware that the Russian military has been using conscripts in Ukraine and that conscripts have also been killed in action. Discussing the declassified but still sensitive material, a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Mr Putin’s ignorance showed “a clear interruption in the delivery of accurate information to the Russian president”. The official said that “there is always tension” between Putin and the Defense Ministry.
The U.S. intelligence assessment also said Mr Putin had an incomplete understanding of the damage Western sanctions were doing to Russia’s economy, the officials said.
For the Russian military, the war continues to go poorly. The Ukrainian army not only stabilized its position, but also began to fight back. Some U.S. officials believe that senior Russian officials are wary of providing a true assessment — possibly fearing that the messengers of bad news will be responsible for failures on the battlefield.
The Russian-Ukrainian War: Key Developments
Mistakes by the Russian military have eroded trust between Putin and his defense ministry. While Shoigu is considered one of the few advisers Putin has confided in, the Ukraine war indictment has damaged relations between the two countries.
Mr Putin has proposed Two senior intelligence officials placed under house arrest This may have further fueled the climate of fear as poor intelligence was provided prior to the invasion.
The United States has been building an intelligence case in recent weeks as Mr Putin is increasingly frustrated with evidence that he has not been accurately assessed by the Defense Department and other senior officials. U.S. officials believe that Mr. Putin continues to be misled and that senior advisers are reluctant to tell the truth.
The possible presence of U.S. intelligence sources in the Kremlin is a closely guarded secret. But U.S. intelligence officials have accurately predicted Putin’s move since Russia began adding troops to the Ukrainian border last year.
The decrypted information is The Associated Press reported earlier Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Russian troops announced a change in their posture around the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, even as U.S. officials expressed skepticism that Russia’s cessation of attacks was a peaceful gesture. Instead, some see the moves as a further sign that Russia is adjusting its failed strategy. The shift in strategy could also be a sign of dysfunction and miscommunication at the top of the Russian Defense Ministry.