SOFREP had published two articles regarding the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia allegedly misinforming their President, Vladimir Putin, about the real status of Ukraine before the launch of their so-called “special military operation.” This has led Putin to purge his intelligence agency, starting with the Head of the FSB’s Fifth Service, Sergey Beseda, and his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh, as they were responsible for collecting intel on Ukraine. In response members of the FSB have come forward to claim that they really had no choice but to tell Putin what they believed he wanted to hear or face questioning by their own superiors about their loyalties to his regime.

Western intelligence has confirmed that these reports were indeed accurate and that Putin was misled by his top advisers.

According to officials from the United States, Britain, and the European Union, Putin was misled by his top advisors and had made a crucial mistake in launching his invasion of Ukraine. His closest advisers allegedly just went with their leader’s decision because they were terrified of telling him the truth based on factual intelligence reports collected by the FSB.

The consensus conclusion from the Western allies comes after several weeks’ worth of unverified reports suggesting that there was growing dissent within Russia’s military, spy agency, and top officials. One of these reports was a 2000-word document that claimed to be from a whistleblower within Russia’s Foreign Security Service (FSB).

“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership,” said White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield in a press briefing.

“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth,” she added.

Meeting on investigation into the crash of a Russian airliner over Sinai with Vladimir Putin in the center. On his right is FSB head Alexander Bortnikov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meeting_on_investigation_into_the_crash_of_a_Russian_airliner_over_Sinai_(Kremlin,_Moscow,_2015-11-17)_02.jpg
Meeting on the investigation into the crash of a Russian airliner over Sinai with Vladimir Putin in the center, 2015. On his right is FSB Head Alexander Bortnikov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (kremlin.ruCC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby concurred with the White House’s claims and raised concerns about the future of the war in Ukraine.

“It is his military. It is his war. He chose it,” Kirby told reporters.

“So the fact that he may not have all the context, that he may not fully understand the degree to which his forces are failing in Ukraine, that’s a little discomforting. Certainly, one outcome of that could be a less than faithful effort at negotiating some sort of settlement here.”

The decision of the United States to share its intelligence not only discretely with its allies but also with the public follows a strategy it has been utilizing since the start of the war in February. President Biden has been actively releasing collected intelligence from Russia in the hopes that it would deter the invasion.

“The great irony is, of course, that through his actions, Putin has brought upon himself exactly what he was trying to avoid – a Ukraine with a renewed sense of nationhood, a NATO that is more united than ever, and a global coalition of nations that condemn his actions,” Director Sir Jeremy Fleming of the British spy agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) said.

Fleming echoes the notion that some of Putin’s senior officials were afraid to break away from his plan to invade Ukraine. He added that these officials were forced to endorse Russia’s recognition of the so-called People’s Republics in Luhansk and Donetsk. This environment led to the Kremlin misjudging Ukraine’s capacity to resist an invasion and predict the possibility of a Western response.

“It all adds up to the strategic miscalculation that western leaders warned Putin it would be. It’s become his personal war, with the cost being paid by innocent people in Ukraine and, increasingly, by ordinary Russians too,” Fleming said.

Similar conclusions were drawn from the insider FSB letter earlier reported by SOFREP, which discussed a letter published by Vladimir Osechkin sent to him by an FSB whistleblower. It can be remembered that the letter cited unpreparedness for a conflict with the Ukrainians and heavy economic sanctions on Moscow.

“Putin thought things were going better than they were. That’s the problem with surrounding yourself with ‘yes men’ or only sitting with them at the end of a very long table,” a senior European diplomat said.

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Demoralized Soldiers Sabotaging the Operation, Shoots Down Their Own Planes

Russian conscripts were reportedly under the impression that they were taking part in military exercises but were forced to sign documents that allowed their deployment to Ukraine.

SOFREP also reported earlier that Russians were using conscripts to fight, which would explain the lack of discipline and inexperience among their troops. Many videos have also surfaced online showing conscripts calling home and crying, stating that they were lied to as they did not know they would be sent to Ukraine. More so, Russian troops were seen to be surrendering without a fight and abandoning their perfectly functional military vehicles in Ukraine, many of which were towed away by Ukrainian farmers and their tractors.

“They were misled, badly trained, and then arrived to find old Ukrainian women who looked like their grandmothers yelling at them to go home,” another EU diplomat said.

These demoralized Russian soldiers were reportedly disobeying orders and even accidentally shot down one of their own aircraft. They were also sabotaging their weaponry so that they would not be forced to fight.

“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,” Fleming said.

In one of the newer developments, it was also reported that members of the FSB were also kept in the dark on the status of the Russian military in Ukraine. Data on casualties were not given, and agents were forced to make “completely groundless analysis,” according to the Osechkin whistleblower.

If this type of leadership continues, Putin will face issues of more decrease in morale and distrust among all ranks of his intelligence and military agencies brought upon by his paranoia and own megalomania.

A Way Out for Putin

Despite the setbacks of his invasion, Putin does not intend to accept defeat, at least not completely. War has always been Putin’s personal endeavor. Admitting defeat proves a much larger loss to the Russian leader than to the country itself.

Military analysts point to Russia’s revised war goals as an attempt by Putin to save face in a dreadful invasion campaign. Moscow is saying that the liberation of the Donbas region has been the real objective of the “special operation.”

“The main objectives of the first stage of the operation have generally been accomplished,” Head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate Sergei Rudskoi said. “The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which … makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbass.”

Analysts doubted Russia’s claims, saying that if Donbas were the true aim of the invasion, Moscow would have launched a smaller, more efficient offensive.

“Obviously, they have completely failed in everything they’ve set out to do, and so now they are redefining what the purpose is so they can declare victory,” Former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe Ben Hodges said. He now works with the Center for European Policy Analysis.

“Clearly, they do not have the ability to continue sustained large-scale offensive operations… Their logistics problems have been apparent to everybody. They’ve got serious manpower issues, and the resistance has been way beyond anything they could have possibly imagined,” he added.