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Russian troops shooting down own aircraft in Ukraine: report

Russian troops shooting down own aircraft in Ukraine report


​Demoralized Russian soldiers are sabotaging their own equipment — including ​accidentally ​downing ​their own planes — and top generals are lying to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the success of his military campaign in Ukraine, the United Kingdom’s spy chief said Thursday.

Jeremy Fleming, the head of Government Communication Headquarters, said during a speech in Australia that Putin had “massively misjudged” both the capabilities of Russian forces and the will of the Ukrainian people to fight for their homeland.

“It’s clear he misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people,” Fleming said. “He underestimated the strength of the coalition his actions would galvanize. He underplayed the economic consequences of the sanctions regime, and he overestimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory.”

“We’ve seen Russian soldiers, short of weapons and morale, refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” Fleming added.

The spymaster went on to claim that Putin’s inner circle fears speaking truth to the Russian leader, though the “extent of these misjudgments must be crystal clear to the regime.”​

A building burns after a Russian shelling in the town of Irpin on March 30, 2022.
REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak
A destroyed Russian tank next to a recaptured by the Ukrainian army at Trostyanets town.
A destroyed Russian tank in Ukraine.
EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

Fleming added that the Russian command and control structure is in chaos, while the invasion of Ukraine had descended into Putin’s “personal war.”

The UK official’s observations dovetail with those of the US and other Western nations that say Putin is surrounded by a battery of “yes men” who are feeding him false information about how poorly Russian troops are performing, as well as the extent to which sanctions are harming the Russian economy. ​

“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told reporters Wednesday.

Ukrainian service member guards a person who, according to officials, is a Russian soldier who surrendered to Ukrainian Armed Forces.
A Ukrainian service member guards a person who, according to officials, is a Russian soldier who surrendered to Ukrainian armed forces.
REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak
Burnt cars and the ruins of a Retroville shopping center are seen following the Russian shelling attack.
Burned cars and the ruins of a Retroville shopping center following a Russian shelling attack.
Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire

“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 advis​ers are too afraid to tell him the truth,” she added.

Bedingfield said the White House had released an intelligence assessment revealing the strife at the top of Moscow’s chain of command “so that there is a full understanding of what kind of strategic blunder this has been for Russia and for the Russian people.​”​

Fleming said Western nations are purposely releasing their intelligence findings to get ahead of Russia’s misinformation campaign about the war in Ukraine.

CONTENT WARNING

Ukrainian service members walk near the body of a Russian soldier on the front line near Kyiv as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues.
Ukrainian service members walk near the body of a Russian soldier on the front line near Kyiv as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.
REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
According to sources, it is believed the Vladimir Putin is being misled by his own people because they are afraid to upset the Russian leader.
According to sources, it is believed that Vladimir Putin is being misled by his own people because they are afraid to upset the Russian leader.
Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

CONTENT WARNING

The body of a Russian soldier lays in a trench after the Ukranian troops retook the village of Mala Rogan on March 30, 2022.
The body of a Russian soldier lies in a trench after Ukrainian troops retook the village of Mala Rogan on March 30, 2022.
FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

“Increasingly, many of those ‘truths’ come from intelligence. It is already a remarkable feature of this conflict just how much intelligence has been so quickly declassified to get ahead of Putin’s actions,” he said, adding: “On this and many other subjects, deeply secret intelligence is being released to make sure the truth is heard. At this pace and scale, it really is unprecedented.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that “we would concur with the conclusion that Mr. Putin has not been fully informed.”​

“It’s his military. It’s his war. He chose it. And so the fact that he may not have all the context, that he may not fully understand the degree to which his forces are failing in Ukraine, that’s a little discomforting, to be honest with you​,” Kirby told reporters.

According to British Government Communications head  Jeremy Fleming,  Vladimir Putin seriously misjudged the will of the Russian people and the determination of the Russian people.
According to British government communications head Jeremy Fleming, Vladimir Putin seriously misjudged the will and determination of the Ukrainian people.
APAP Photo/Frank Augstein, File

A European diplomat noted that that assessment was in line with the EU’s thinking.

“Putin thought things were going better than they were. That’s the problem with surrounding yourself with ‘yes men’ or only sitting with them at the end of a very long table,” ​the official said. ​

One notable dissenter to the assessment was former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who told CNN Thursday morning that “I don’t buy that analysis.”

“I don’t think there’s a government in human history, that I’m aware of, where one of the top leader’s advisers was not perfectly prepared to say that another top adviser had made a complete mess of things,” Bolton said. “I think they’ve [the Russians] got the information. I think their calculations proved to be as inaccurate as US intelligence or French intelligence, that predicted there would be no invasion.”

CONTENT WARNING

Ukrainian medics carry the body of a Russian soldier after Ukrainian troops retook the village of Malaya Rohan.
Ukrainian medics carry the body of a Russian soldier after Ukrainian troops retook the village of Malaya Rohan.
FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

In the same interview, Bolton suggested that “continued corruption in the Russian military” was to blame for discontent among fighting forces, describing the Kremlin as “a racketeering organization, not a government.”

“I think the disastrous performance of the Russian military has caused such a reputational blow that I think it’s an added reason why Putin has no incentive, from his perspective, to negotiate. If his military is to have any effect in terms of threatening other countries, he has to have some military victory he can point to,” he added. “He certainly does not have it yet, and I don’t know what it is in prospect for him. So the bad news is, I think actually this failure contributes to their determination in the Kremlin to continue this conflict until they can achieve some success that justifies the invasion in the first place.”

With Post wires



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