The head of Britain’s spy agency GCHQ said in a speech Thursday that Vladimir Putin miscalculated in launching the invasion of Ukraine and that his advisers were “afraid to tell him the truth” about how wrong he was.
Sir Jeremy Fleming, in a speech in Australia, said that the Russian leader misjudged the strength of the Ukrainian resistance, the Western response, and the ability of his forces to achieve a quick victory.
All this adds to the strategic miscalculation that Western leaders have warned Putin about. It has become his personal war, with the price paid by the innocent Ukraine And increasingly, by commoners of Russia as well,” said Fleming.
Western security officials want to blame the unprovoked invasion in February on Putin, whom they describe as a dominant and isolated leader who makes poor decisions in part because he no longer gets accurate information or honest opinions from his subordinates.
As a result, Fleming said he believed that failure to achieve a quick victory should cause discord in the Kremlin. “Although we believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what is happening and how much this miscalculation should be made absolutely clear to the system.”
Earlier, US officials made a similar point, saying that Putin’s advisers were too afraid to tell him how weak the war in Ukraine was and how damaging Western sanctions had been.
“We have information that Putin feels misled by the Russian military, which has led to continued tension between Putin and his military leadership,” said Kate Bedingfield, the White House’s director of communications.
“We believe his advisers are misleading Putin about how badly the Russian military is doing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his top advisers are afraid to tell him the truth.”
“It is therefore increasingly clear that Putin’s war was a major strategic mistake that made Russia weaker in the long run and increasingly isolated on the world stage,” she added.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby later agreed with the White House assessment: “It [Putin’s] Army. It is his war. He chose it … the fact that he may not fully understand the degree of failure of his forces in Ukraine is a little disturbing.”
before the invasion, Putin had a strange meeting with his main advisers about recognition The unilaterally declared republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. It was clear that some prominent figures feared the president, who had led the country for 22 years, as each demanded the approval of the breakaway regions.
There were also increasing indications, Fleming said, that Russian soldiers “lack in arms and morale” were “refusing to follow orders, sabotaging their own equipment, and even accidentally shooting down their planes.”
No evidence was presented to support the allegations of an air accident, although Whitehall’s sources said they were confident enough to allow Fleming to refer to it in the letter, in part to demonstrate to Russian insiders their knowledge of the military situation.
As the chief of intelligence warned, China Not to become “closely allied” with Russia as the war continues, the latest in a series of statements by Western leaders and officials aimed at trying to persuade Beijing not to supply Moscow with money and arms.
Fleming said Putin made a clear “strategic choice” to side with China before the fighting broke out, but that there remain underlying tensions between the two countries — and risks for both in trying to work together.
“Russia realizes that China, in the long run, will become increasingly powerful militarily and economically. Some of their interests are at odds; Russia is expected to be taken out of the equation.
“And it is equally clear that a China that wants to set the rules of the road – the standards for new global governance – is not served by a close alliance with a regime that intentionally and unlawfully ignores them all.”
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”