Putin ‘misled’ about war; can lead to a disastrous end

As part of its strategy to thwart Russia’s attempts to invade and behead Ukraine’s leadership, the US has released the collected information for more than a month.

As the war rages on in Ukraine, it’s not clear how much, if any, ground truth Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting.

According to recently released intelligence agencies, a culture of fear, mistrust and lying dominates communications between him and trusted advisers.

“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military,” a US official said in a statement to the WTOP, citing intelligence released Wednesday.

As part of its strategy to thwart Russia’s attempts to invade and behead Ukraine’s leadership, the US has released the collected information for more than a month.

The latest release is a hard blow to the heart of Putin’s war.

“There is now ongoing tension between Putin and the Defense Ministry, as a result of Putin’s distrust in the Defense Ministry leadership,” the statement said.

The MOD is led by General Sergei Shoigu, one of Putin’s oldest and apparently most trusted advisers. He mysteriously disappeared from public view for two weeks, then resurfaced on Saturday, sparking worldwide speculation that his disappearance was the result of disciplinary action.

The official said in the statement: “Putin was not even aware that his army was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, demonstrating a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president.”

The war in Ukraine exposed catastrophic miscalculations by the Russian government, namely the widespread belief that the invasion would take place more than three days after it started on February 24.

Ironically, Russian Lieutenant General Yakov Rezantsev, who made that prediction, was killed by Ukrainian troops on Friday. He was the seventh general to die in less than a month of fighting. In comparison, the US military lost one general in combat over 20 years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Eight Russian colonels are also said to have been murdered in recent weeks.

In total, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says: more than 17,000 Russian troops have been killed within that one month time frame. According to NATO estimates, between 7,000 and 15,000 have been killed.

Reduction of troops

During peace negotiations on Tuesday, Moscow said it would “drasically reduce” the number of troops near the Ukrainian capital Kiev, which runs into the tens of thousands.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a briefing on Wednesday that “they” to be start moving some of those troops to Belarus.”

It’s not clear why, but massive losses in equipment and the inability to communicate securely may have played a role in that decision.

According to intelligence released by the US official, the misrepresentations extend well beyond the war on the ground in Ukraine and other critical components of Russia.

“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how poorly the Russian military is performing; and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions,” the official said in the statement.

The motivation for all the misinformation, the official said, is “because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth.”

According to Eeva Eek Pajuste, director of the Lennart Meri security conference in Estonia, this is a dangerous development, because Putin’s flawed view of Ukraine’s military capabilities and Western determination to stop the invasion was supported by this misinformation.

Given Putin’s unpredictable mental state, his nuclear threats and his actions in Ukraine, the threat to the rest of Europe is compounded by leaving him in the dark.

“The general security situation across Europe has deteriorated,” said Eek Pajuste.

Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are relatively small countries bordering Russia or Russia’s de facto satellite state, Belarus.

“The border of direct military threat,” said Eek-Pajuste, “runs along NATO’s borders. Even in this unpredictable situation, it is possible to see that Putin wants to avoid a direct war with NATO.”

But if Putin is misinformed about everything from the strength of the ruble to military readiness, there is a chance that other miscalculations will take place at a much higher cost.

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“We cannot rule out anything should Putin feel cornered and ready for desperate steps. It is a struggle for life and death, and in this struggle reason is not the main weapon,” said Eek-Pajuste.

“The threat to the eastern flank,” she said, “is not just the Russian military, but there is also a threat to the environment, from a possible major nuclear incident on Ukrainian soil.”

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