Demoralized Russian soldiers disobeyed orders and accidentally shot down one of their own planes, the head of British spy agency GCHQ has claimed.
Vladimir Putin’s advisers are “afraid to tell him the truth” about the war in Ukraine, according to Sir Jeremy Fleming, who will say in a speech Thursday that the Russian president made a “strategic miscalculation” in deciding to invade.
“We have seen Russian soldiers – strapped for weapons and morale – refuse to carry out orders, sabotage their own equipment and even accidentally shoot down their own aircraft,” the spy chief will say in a rare public address during a visit to Australia.
“And while we think Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what is going on and the extent of these misjudgments should be crystal clear to the regime.
“All of this is on top of the strategic miscalculation that Western leaders warned Putin would be. It has become his personal war, the cost of which is being paid by innocent people in Ukraine and, increasingly, by ordinary Russians too.
No evidence has been released for the claim that Russian troops shot down their own aircraft.
On Wednesday, US officials also said Mr Putin was being misled by advisers who were too scared to tell him how the war in Ukraine was going and how damaging Western sanctions had been.
“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has led to ongoing tensions between Putin and his military leadership,” the White House communications director told reporters. Kate Bedingfield, during a press briefing.
“We believe Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about the poor performance of the Russian military and how the Russian economy is crippled by sanctions because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth,” he said. she declared.
Earlier, US President Joe Biden said he could not comment on the information. The White House hopes the release of the information could cause Putin to reconsider his options in Ukraine, according to a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and did not provide evidence to support these claims. assertions.
Ms Bedingfield also said the United States “continued to see evidence today that Russia was attacking and advancing in places it had previously said it would not”.
Russian forces shelled areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv just hours after pledging to scale back operations in those areas to promote trust between the two sides, Ukrainian authorities said.
Russian shelling hit homes, shops, libraries and other civilian areas, they added.