Russian troops are sabotaging themselves in Ukraine, British intelligence chief says



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According to Jeremy Fleming, head of British intelligence GCHQ, Russian forces deployed to invade Ukraine are undermining their own offensive by refusing orders and destroying their equipment, including aircraft.

“It seems more and more like [President] Vladimir Putin grossly misjudged the situation… He overestimated his military’s capabilities to achieve a quick victory,” Fleming said in prepared remarks released ahead of a speech Thursday in Australia.

“Lack of weapons and morale,” he added that the Russians accidentally shot down their own plane. Fleming also confirmed that Moscow has deployed mercenaries and foreign fighters as part of its operation.

The GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) is a top partner for US intelligence, and Fleming’s statement is his first public comment on the war in Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24.

“While we believe that Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, the regime needs to be crystal clear about what is going on and the extent of these misjudgments,” Fleming continued.

The Russian army has lost seven generals and at least 7,000 soldiers as Ukrainian forces resisted the easy Russian victory that analysts said Putin expected.

According to a March 30 assessment of the war by the Washington think tank Institute for the Study of War, Russian troops are suffering far more casualties in their continued attempt to take the strategic port city of Mariupol.

“Russia withdraws some elements of its armed forces” [the Ukrainain capital of] Kiev… for likely relocation,” analysts Mason Clark, George Barros and Kateryna Stepanenko wrote. “But Russian forces are likely to continue to hold their forward positions and shell Ukrainian troops and residential areas.”

Russia has repeatedly attacked civilian targets such as hospitals and shelters in recent weeks, with Western officials worrying it will become more aggressive, including using banned chemical weapons and claiming that the Ukrainians did so. Fleming referred to that risk in his speech: “On this and many other topics, top secret intelligence is being released to ensure the truth is heard. At this pace and scale, this is unprecedented.”

Negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials to reach a ceasefire have not yet borne fruit.

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