Putin feels Russian military misled him, US official says

US intelligence has determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about the poor performance of Kremlin troops in Ukraine, the Associated Press reported and CBS News confirmed.

A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss recently released intelligence, said on Wednesday that the intelligence findings indicate that Putin is aware of the situation with information coming to him and that there are now ongoing tensions between him and senior Russian military officials. President Biden declined to comment in a meeting with reporters.

But the government is hopeful that disclosing the finding could help Putin rethink his options in Ukraine. The war has come to a bloody stalemate in much of the country, with heavy casualties and the deteriorating morale of Russian troops as Ukrainian troops and volunteers defend unexpectedly strong.

The publicity, however, carries the risk of further isolating Putin, which US officials say is driven at least in part by a desire to reclaim Russian prestige lost by the fall of the Soviet Union.

In Algeria, Wednesday was asked about the report that Putin felt misled by his defense ministers. have people in those systems who speak the truth to power or lack the ability to bring the truth to power. And I think that’s something we’re seeing in Russia.”

Also on Wednesday, President Biden spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for about 55 minutes, telling him that $500 million in additional direct aid for Ukraine was on the way. It is the latest installment of US aid as the Russian invasion continues.

The two also assessed the security assistance already delivered to Ukraine and the effects weapons have had on the war, the White House said.

The unidentified official did not provide details on the underlying evidence of how US intelligence made its decision.

The intelligence community has concluded that Putin was unaware that his army had used – and lost – conscripts in Ukraine. And it has also determined that it is not fully aware of the extent to which the Russian economy is being harmed by economic sanctions imposed by the US and allies.

The findings show a “clear glitch in the flow of accurate information” to Putin, and show Putin’s senior advisers are “afraid to tell him the truth,” the official said.

Zelesnkyy has pressured the Biden administration and Western allies to provide Ukraine with military aircraft, something the US and other NATO countries have so far refused to accommodate for fears it could lead to an expansion of the military. war by Russia outside the borders of Ukraine.

Before Wednesday’s announcement of $500 million in aid, the Biden administration had sent Ukraine about $2 billion in humanitarian and security aid since the war started in late February.

That’s part of the $13.6 billion Congress approved for Ukraine earlier this month in a larger spending bill. The House and Senate will receive secret briefings on Ukraine on Wednesday.

The new intelligence came after the White House expressed skepticism on Tuesday about Russia’s public announcement that it would call back operations near Kiev in a bid to boost confidence in ongoing talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials in Turkey.

And Ukrainian officials say Russia continues shelling near Kiev and the northern city of Chernihiv, despite Russia’s claims it would curtail operations “to increase mutual trust” for peace talks.

The Pentagon said on Wednesday it has seen Russian troops in the areas around Kiev move northwards into or into Belarus in the past 24 hours. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in interviews with CNN and Fox Business that the US does not see this as a withdrawal, but rather as an attempt by Russia to resupply, adjust and then reposition its troops.

Outside of Russia, Putin has long been seen as an island and surrounded by officials who don’t always tell him the truth. US officials have publicly said they believe the limited flow of information — possibly exacerbated by Putin’s heightened isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic — may have given the Russian president an unrealistic picture of how quickly he could overtake Ukraine.

Before the war, the Biden administration launched an unprecedented effort to publicize what it believed to be Putin’s invasion plans, based on intelligence findings. As Russia continued to invade, the White House was widely credited with drawing attention to Ukraine and pushing initially reluctant allies to support harsh sanctions that have decimated Russia’s economy.

But the US underlined the limits of intelligence agencies and also underestimated Ukraine’s will to fight for the invasion, Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lieutenant General Scott Berrier said in a recent congressional testimony.

Sara Cook contributed to this report.

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