WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – US intelligence officials have determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been misinformed by his advisers about his country’s poor performance in Ukraine.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss recently declassified intelligence, said on Wednesday that the information finding indicates that Putin is aware of the situation regarding information coming to him and there is now continuing tension between him. and senior Russian military officials. Biden said in an exchange with reporters that he could not comment.
The administration is hopeful that the release of the finding could prompt Putin to reconsider his options in Ukraine. The war led to a bloody stalemate in much of the country, with heavy casualties and Russian troop morale declining while Ukrainian forces and volunteers lined up an unexpectedly strong defense.
But publicity could also run the risk of further isolating Putin, who according to US officials seems at least partially driven by a desire to regain Russian prestige lost through the fall of the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a 55-minute call that an additional $ 500 million in direct aid to Ukraine was on the way. This is the latest outbreak in US aid as the Russian invasion continues.
Asked about the latest intelligence, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken did not confirm the findings, but suggested that a dynamic exists within the Kremlin where advisers are unwilling to speak openly with Putin.
“One of the Achilles heel of autocracies is that you do not have people in those systems who speak truth to power or have the ability to speak truth to power, and I think that is what we see in Russia,” Blinken said. reporters during a stop in Algeria on Wednesday.
The unidentified official did not provide the underlying evidence for how the US intelligence made its determination.
The intelligence community concluded that Putin was unaware that his army had used and lost conscripts in Ukraine. They also stated that he was not fully aware of the extent to which the Russian economy was being damaged by economic sanctions imposed by the US and allies.
The findings show a “clear collapse in the flow of accurate information” to Putin, showing that Putin’s senior advisers are “afraid to tell him the truth,” the official said.
Biden informed Zelenskyy of the latest round of assistance during a call in which the leaders also reviewed security assistance already provided to Ukraine and the impact that weapons had on the war, according to the White House.
Zelesnkyy urged the Biden administration and other Western allies to provide Ukraine with military jets, something the US and other NATO countries have so far been unwilling to accommodate out of concern that it could lead Russia out of the war. expanding Ukraine’s borders.
Prior to Wednesday’s announcement of $ 500 million in aid, the Biden administration has sent some $ 2 billion in humanitarian and security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the war last month.
This is all part of the $ 13.6 billion that Congress approved for Ukraine earlier this month as part of a broader spending law.
Ukraine’s presidential website says Zelenskyy told Biden: “We need peace, and it will only be achieved when we have a strong position on the battlefield. Our morale is firm, there is enough determination, but we have your immediate support necessary.”
The new intelligence came after the White House on Tuesday expressed skepticism about Russia’s public announcement that it would cut back operations near Kiev in an effort to boost confidence in ongoing talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials in Turkey.
Russian forces bombarded Ukraine’s capital and another city overnight, regional leaders said on Wednesday.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that it had seen over the past 24 hours how some Russian troops were moving north to or to Belarus in the areas around Kiev.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in interviews with Nation World News and Fox Business that the US did not see this as a withdrawal, but as an attempt by Russia to resupply, recover and then reposition the troops.
Putin has long been seen outside Russia as insular and surrounded by officials who do not always tell him the truth. U.S. officials have publicly said they believe the limited flow of information – possibly exacerbated by Putin’s increased isolation during the COVID – 19 pandemic – may have given the Russian president unrealistic views on how quickly he could overwhelm Ukraine.
Before the war, the Biden administration launched an unprecedented effort to disclose what it believed were Putin’s invasion plans, based on intelligence findings. While Russia continued to invade, the White House was widely credited for drawing attention to Ukraine and initially pressuring reluctant allies to support severe sanctions that plagued the Russian economy.
But to underline the limits of intelligence, the US also underestimated Ukraine’s willingness to fight before the invasion, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in recent testimony before Congress.
Associated Press authors Matthew Lee in Algiers, Algeria, and Lolita C. Baldor reported.