Vladimir Putin ‘misled’ by Russian officials terrified of telling him how bad war is going, US says

Vladimir Putin is being “misled” by Russian officials about the poor status of the country’s war efforts in Ukraine, as they are terrified to tell him the truth, the US has claimed.

“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has led to ongoing tensions between Putin and his military leadership,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told reporters at a news conference.

“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 because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth,” she added.

European sources agreed with the assessment. A diplomat told Reuters: “Putin thought things were going better than they were. That’s the problem when you surround yourself with ‘yes guys’ or just sit with them at the end of a really long table.”

An official added that Russian soldiers “were misled, poorly trained and then arrived to find old Ukrainian women who looked like their grandmothers yelling at them to go home.”

Russian forces bombed the outskirts of the capital Kiev and the besieged city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine on Wednesday, a day after Russia promised to wind down military operations in both cities.

The British Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that Russia’s efforts to focus on an offensive in eastern Ukraine away from the capital is “probably a recognition that it is struggling to maintain more than one major forward move”.

It added that some Russian units that suffered heavy losses “have been forced to return to Belarus and Russia to reorganize and resupply … putting further strain on Russia’s already tense logistics.”

The head of Britain’s spy agency GCHQ, Sir Jeremy Fleming, will say in a speech on Thursday that Russian troops accidentally shot down their own plane.

“We have seen Russian soldiers – without weapons and morale – refuse to carry out orders, sabotage their own equipment and even accidentally shoot down their own plane,” he will say in a speech ahead of his visit to Australia.

“And 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 magnitude of these miscalculations.

“It all comes down to the strategic miscalculation that Western leaders warned Putin. It has become his personal war, with the costs being paid by innocent people in Ukraine and, increasingly, by ordinary Russians as well.”

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