Administration officials were also cautiously monitoring ongoing peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, which both sides said were showing signs of progress after meetings in Istanbul. The United States was less optimistic, saying it did not believe Putin and his underlings were negotiating in good faith.
In his conversation with Zelensky, Biden planned to “discuss our continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression,” the White House said.
Yet a day later, Moscow downplayed any diplomatic advances. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no breakthrough. And pessimism continued to reign among Western leaders the talks could lead to significant progress. Continued violence in Ukraine on Wednesday appeared to confirm US suspicions that Russia’s de-escalation claims were nothing more than an attempted hijack.
Biden’s phone call with Zelensky, which began just after 11 a.m. ET, is the first time the two have spoken directly to each other since the president’s last-minute trip to Europe for a NATO summit and meetings in Poland. Zelensky appeared virtually at the summit in Brussels, imploring the leaders for increased military assistance to help his army sustain the battle against Russia.
The Ukrainian military succeeded far beyond expectations in keeping Russia at bay, although Russia still inflicted massive destruction on the country. Russian advances on kyiv and Chernihiv had already stalled before Russia declared this week that it was defusing its military campaign in those areas.
On Wednesday, a US official said US intelligence shows Putin is “misinformed” by his advisers about the Russian military’s poor performance in Ukraine and the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy.
“His senior advisers are too scared to tell him the truth,” the official said, adding that the United States had information indicating that Putin had learned of the disinformation, leading to a rift between the Russian leadership and his seniors. defense officials.
“There are now lingering tensions between Putin and the (Defense Ministry), stemming from Putin’s distrust of the MOD leadership,” the official said. Putin was unaware that his military was “using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear break in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president,” the official added.
This intelligence may help explain why Putin rejected a host of diplomatic exit routes that the United States and other countries offered Putin in the run-up to his invasion of Ukraine, believing that the Russian military would be in able to quickly overwhelm Ukraine.
The official declined to provide additional examples of Putin being misinformed by his advisers, saying the information remains classified. The US intelligence community has declassified and downgraded the summary of its findings, but no specific information to protect sources and methods.