A supposed insider from the Federal Security Service (FSB) says that Putin’s conquest of Ukraine has no chance of victory. The source claims Moscow could not properly assess the level of resistance from the Ukrainians and the response from the international community.

“No one knew that there would be such a war, so no one prepared for such sanctions,” the letter said. “It’s just that there is no option for a possible victory.”

The 2000-word letter from the FSB whistleblower was published on Facebook last week by Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the Russian human rights watchdog “Gulagu.” The text was later assessed by Christo Grozev from Bellingcat, a Netherland-based investigative journalism group. Grozev wrote in a tweet that he had shown the document to two of his FSB contacts, who confirmed the letter’s legitimacy.

“I showed the letter to two actual (current or former) FSB contacts, and they had no doubt it was written by a colleague,” Grozev wrote. However, he also shared that he had doubts about the authenticity of the document as Ukraine has leaked fake FSB letters before.

The letter shared that the FSB was taking the bulk of the blame for the failures in Ukraine. However, the author claims that the agency was given no warning that an invasion was about to happen and was unprepared to deal with the consequences of crushing sanctions. FSB officers had been assigned to assess the impact of the sanctions from the West but were told it was given as a hypothetical box-ticking exercise as writing assessments were always customized to make Russia look like the victor to avoid questioning by superiors.

“You have to write the analysis in a way that makes Russia the victor… Otherwise, you get questioned for not doing good work,” they wrote. “Suddenly, it happens, and everything comes down to your completely groundless analysis.”

Sergey Beseda, head of the FSB's Fifth Service, was put on house arrest due to failures in intelligence collection in Ukraine (Independent). Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russian-spy-chiefs-putin-security-b2034350.html
Sergey Beseda, head of the FSB’s Fifth Service, was put on house arrest due to failures in intelligence collection in Ukraine (FSB/The Independent) Apparently Russian intelligence has been unable so far to steal the secret of the touch-tone, cordless telephone from the West.

This is in line with reports that the head of the FSB’s foreign intelligence branch Fifth Service Sergey Beseda, and his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh were placed under house arrest as they had allegedly given inaccurate intelligence reports on Ukraine prior to the invasion. Reports also stated that the FSB was padding the intelligence reports so that Putin does not receive too much bad news, which is the same sentiments the FSB whistleblower shared with Osechkin.

“Both men have played a major role in intelligence operations against Ukraine for several years and highly likely played a major role in the planning for the invasion of Ukraine. If claims of arrest are correct, this would indicate that Putin is seriously concerned about the FSB’s role in the military campaign, and there could be significant changes at senior levels in the FSB,” said an anonymous western official.

There was also an instance wherein Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov allegedly almost turned on the Russians after his assassination squad tried to kill Ukrainian President Zelensky and was subsequently annihilated by Ukrainian forces.

Osechkin’s source explored the slimming odds of Russia winning the war against Ukraine. Even with the death of Zelensky, the source had said, “nothing will change.”

“And now even those who were loyal to us are against it. Because it was planned from above because we were told that there would be no such option unless we were attacked.”

FSB officers on the scene of the Domodedovo International Airport bombing in 2011. Combating terrorism is one of the main tasks of the agency (Wikipedia). Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Security_Service#/media/File:RIAN_archive_846846_Dozens_killed_in_Domodedovo_airport_blast.jpg
FSB officers were on the scene of the Domodedovo International Airport bombing in 2011. Combating terrorism is one of the main tasks of the agency (RIA Novosti archive, image #846846 / Andrey Stenin / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons/Wikipedia)

The author of the letter also discussed how the rise of civilian losses would only lead to increased resistance as Ukrainians become angrier toward the Russian army. It can be remembered that Russia had been repeatedly accused of targeting evacuees and residential areas, even as far as using White Phosphorus munitions in civilian areas. Russians had also reportedly fired missiles on a Mariupol Drama Theater that had been used as a shelter for civilians recently.

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Questions over Russia’s manpower to invade effectively were also raised by the letter’s author.

“Even with minimum resistance from the Ukrainians, we’d need over 500,000 people, not including supply and logistics workers,” the report’s author claimed.

According to the FSB whistleblower, mobilizing such a force is improbable given that it will disrupt the already crippled economic, political, and social situation in Russia. Furthermore, the logistics required to move such a force proved to be another tall order. The author stated that Ukraine is a large territory, and their road systems cannot handle the load of such a large caravan.

Russia is now on a ticking time bomb before its economy collapses from the weight of the economic sanctions from the West. According to the author, with no victory in sight, Russia will be forced to either convince Europe to drop the sanctions or wage war if they refuse.

“In that instance, I won’t exclude that we will be pulled into a real international conflict, just like Hitler in 1939,” they wrote. “Our position was like Germany in 1943-44 — but that’s our starting position.”

Furthermore, the possibility of using nuclear weapons was slim, but still possible, as the author claimed. “Is there a possibility of a local nuclear strike? Yes. Not for military purposes, but with the aim of intimidating others,” they said.

However, the author, who claimed to be a cynic, proclaimed that he does not think the Russian President will “press the red button to destroy the world.” According to the whistleblower, that decision will be made by several people, and one person is bound to refuse in the case that Putin should decide on launching a nuclear attack.

Questions Of Legitimacy

Some still question the authenticity of Osechkin’s document written by the FSB whistleblower, and they have reason to do so. Ukraine and Russia have been exchanging disinformation throughout the three-week war, and the report might possibly be part of Ukraine’s disinformation against Russia.

“The possibility of the letter being a part of Ukraine’s disinformation against Russia is still a possibility,” said former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler to Fox News.  

“It’s very long and incorporates all kinds of things. If he’s really an FSB officer in the middle of this conflict right now, who has the time to write such a long post that would incorporate all these various things?”

Koffler cited the report’s reference to Hitler as an example:

“The Hitler thing. This is a Western narrative,” she explained. “The Russians hate Hitler, but it’s unlikely for them to compare Putin with Hitler.”

It is important to note that even the sources of Grozev, who confirmed the document’s legitimacy, do not agree with all the points raised in said text.

“They didn’t agree with all of his conclusions, but that’s a different story.”

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