Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Putin’s Advisors Misleading Him About Russian Performance In Ukraine, U.S. Official Says

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is receiving inaccurate information about how his military forces are faring in Ukraine, a U.S. official told multiple media outlets Wednesday, suggesting a “clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information” on the Russian side.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at … [+] on February 17, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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Key Facts

The official reportedly said Putin’s top military advisors are “too afraid to tell him the truth” about the situation in Ukraine.

CIA Director Bill Burns said earlier this month Putin expected his forces to capture Ukraine’s capital Kyiv within two days of the start of the Russian invasion, but the Ukrainian military has repelled Russian advances in the now month-long conflict.

It’s unclear what Putin believes is happening in Ukraine, but the official added the Russian president was apparently unaware his forces were using conscript soldiers.

A NATO official estimated last week that up to 15,000 Russian troops had been killed in Ukraine, but Russia claims a fraction of that number, putting its death toll at 1,351.

The Pentagon and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Forbes.

Crucial Quote
“One of the Achilles heels of autocracies is that you don’t have people in those systems who speak truth to power or who have the ability to speak truth to power,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday. “And I think that is something that we’re seeing in Russia.”

What To Watch For
The Kremlin claimed Friday that the first phase of its “special military operation” was complete and it would focus on the “liberation of Donbas,” a region of eastern Ukraine largely held by Russian-backed separatists. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday Russian troops had started to move away from Kyiv, adding “we think they’re going to prioritize the east.” Despite the apparent change in strategy, intense fighting was still reported in suburbs of the capital on Wednesday.

Key Background
The Russian strategy in Ukraine has baffled military observers, leading many to suggest a high level of disorganization among its forces has contributed to slow progress on the ground. The Ukrainian military also claims to have killed seven Russian generals, a staggering number that’s akin to the death rates of top officers in World War II. Morale problems among troops are also believed to be a significant problem for the Russians. Some soldiers have suffered from hunger and frostbite due to an apparent lack of supplies, according to the Pentagon.

Putin appeared at a massive pro-war rally in Moscow earlier this month to drum up support for the invasion, but several attendees told the BBC they were public sector employees that were pressured to go.

Further Reading
Putin misled by advisers on Ukraine, US intel determines (Associated Press)

The Ukrainians Are Killing A Lot Of Russian Generals. It Won’t Help End The War. (Forbes)

Putin Holds Massive Pro-War Rally In Moscow (Forbes)

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