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Thu Mar 31, 2022, 01:33 PM

U.K. Spy Chief Says Russian Army Is a Mess, Downed Own Plane

Vladimir Putin “massively misjudged the situation” in ordering the invasion of Ukraine and surely knows just how poorly things are going for Russian forces even though his closest advisers are hiding the truth from him, according to the head of Britain’s spy services.

In a speech at the Australian National University in Canberra on Thursday morning, GCHQ director Sir Jeremy Fleming said the Russian leader’s “unprovoked and premeditated attack on Ukraine” has been “shocking in every sense of the word.” He also said Putin, a former KGB officer, was caught completely flat-footed by what he found.

“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. 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.”

Throughout the past 36 days, Putin has consistently been misled by top Russian military and intelligence officials about the army’s progress in Ukraine, declassified U.S. intelligence has reportedly shown. During a stop in Algiers on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Putin’s inner circle is not telling him the truth about the war and the true bite of economic sanctions on Russia’s economy. An unnamed senior U.S. intelligence official told the Associated Press that Putin’s advisers are “scared” to give him an accurate version of events, and that those deceiving him include Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.


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