According to newly disclosed US information, Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he was misled by military officers who withheld vital details about the disastrous invasion of Ukraine for fear of angering him, according to top Biden administration officials.
“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly 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,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told reporters.
She claims that the inability to inform Putin about what was really going on has resulted in “constant animosity between Putin and his military command.”
Putin “didn’t even realise his military was utilising and losing conscripts in Ukraine,” a US official told NBC News earlier in the day, demonstrating a “clear failure in the flow of reliable information to the Russian President.”
The White House and the Pentagon refused to reveal how American intelligence services discovered what Putin was and wasn’t told during highly sensitive and purportedly secure sessions with his military aides.
However, the decision to declassify and share the intelligence now is the latest example of the Biden administration’s unique technique, which appears to be tailor-made for the hybrid warfare era.
It has obtained top-secret intelligence about Putin’s plans and then made it public, breaking with the traditional practise of keeping sensitive information hidden.
The White House has already taken this previously unprecedented step of declassifying and publishing information on Putin’s secret invasion plans to the public on several occasions. And it’s been proven correct each time.
“So far, the White House intelligence on Ukraine has been spot on,” said Scheherazade Rehman, director of the European Union Research Center at George Washington University. “No one believed Biden when he said they were going to invade, even in the United States. But they did.”
“In this particular area, U.S. intelligence is on its game,” she told CNBC recently.
The news of tensions between Putin and his senior brass arrived at a critical juncture for Ukraine. After failing to achieve its first goal of toppling Ukraine’s government and installing a puppet administration, the Kremlin appears to have changed tactics.
Russian defence authorities now claim that deploying 190,000 troops into Ukraine last month was never intended to invade the country, but rather to “defend” Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the country’s far east.
They claim to be doing so by moving forces who have been attempting to surround Kyiv for the past month to sites further east and closer to Russian-controlled territory.
For weeks, the Biden administration has emphasised the need of not escalating the ongoing situation between Urkaine and Russia into a confrontation between the world’s two most powerful nuclear-armed powers: Russia and the United States.
On that front, disclosing intelligence such as the details revealed on Wednesday, which strongly suggest the US has a mole in Putin’s closest circle, is a calculated risk.
“If Mr. Putin is being kept in the dark by his Ministry of Defense, when he does learn the truth, when he actually begins to realize how badly his military is doing in Ukraine, you don’t know what kind of reaction that’s going to cause in him,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby. “There’s a real potential here for escalation.”
In the next days, Western diplomats will be watching to see whether more Russian forces arrive in eastern Ukraine and if Russia expands its military draught to enlist more soldiers. By April 1, Putin is likely to make a choice.
It’s still uncertain if extra troops would provide the Kremlin a strategic advantage over Ukraine’s fervent and determined resistance.
“No amount of spin can mask what the world has witnessed over the past month,” Kirby said at a briefing Tuesday. “And that’s the courage and the military prowess of Ukraine’s armed forces and its people.”
(Adapted from MoneyControl.com)