Putin misled by his advisers, US claims

WASHINGTON — US intelligence agencies have determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been misinformed by advisers about his military’s poor performance in Ukraine, the White House said. The advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, the intelligence service says.

The findings, released recently, indicate that Putin is aware of the situation regarding information coming in to him and that there are now ongoing tensions between him and senior Russian military officials.

The US believes that Putin is being misled not only about his military’s performance, but also “how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth,” said communications director Kate Bedingfield of the White House. Wednesday.

Earlier, President Joe Biden told reporters he could not comment on the intelligence.

The government is hopeful that disclosing the finding could help Putin reconsider his options in Ukraine, a US official said. The official was not authorized to comment and spoke on condition of anonymity. 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 vigorously.

But the publicity could also risk further isolating Putin, who, according to US officials, is driven at least in part by a desire to regain Russian prestige lost by the fall of the Soviet Union.

“What it is doing underlines that this has been a strategic blunder for Russia,” Bedingfield said of the intelligence find. “But I’m not going to describe how… Vladimir Putin might feel about this.”

Meanwhile, Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a 55-minute conversation that another $500 million in direct aid for Ukraine was on the way. It is the latest burst of US aid as the Russian invasion continues.

Asked for the latest intelligence, Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested there is a dynamic within the Kremlin where advisers are unwilling to speak candidly with Putin.

“One of the Achilles heels of autocracies is that you don’t have people in those systems who speak truth to power or have the ability to speak truth to power, and I think that’s what we’re seeing in Russia,” he said. shine. reporters during a stop in Algeria on Wednesday.

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

The intelligence services have concluded that Putin was unaware that his army was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine. They have also determined that he 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.

Biden briefed Zelenskyy on the latest tranche of aid during an appeal in which leaders also assessed security aid already delivered to Ukraine and the effects weapons had on the war, according to the White House.

Zelesnkyy has pressured the Biden administration and other Western allies to provide Ukraine with military aircraft, something the US and other NATO countries have so far been unwilling to accommodate over concerns it could lead Russia out of the war. expand Ukraine’s borders.

Prior to 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 last month.

Congress approved $13.6 billion that Congress approved earlier this month as part of a broader spending bill. Bedingfield said the latest round of financial aid by the Ukrainian government could be used “to strengthen its economy and pay for budget costs,” including government salaries and servicing services.

Ukraine’s presidential website says Zelenskyy told Biden: “We need peace, and it will only be achieved if we have a strong position on the battlefield. Our morale is strong, there is enough determination, but we need your immediate support necessary.”

Zelenskyy said in a Twitter post that he also spoke with Biden about new sanctions against Russia. Bedingfield said the government is looking at options to extend and deepen the current sanctions.

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.

Russian troops stormed areas around Ukraine’s capital and another city last night, regional leaders said Wednesday.

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 sees this not as a withdrawal, but as an attempt by Russia to resupply, reposition 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 hammered the Russian 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.

AP writers Matthew Lee in Algiers and Lolita C. Baldor reported.

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