The United States opens a new front in the information war against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Washington has made public this Wednesday reports from its intelligence services that suggest that the Russian president is being deceived by his advisers about the real progress of the war. This is how the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department have agreed in what can be interpreted as one more step in a strategy that the Joe Biden Administration has been embarking on for months: sharing all the information they have about the intentions of the Kremlin to sabotage their plans.
The effort began before the invasion of Ukraine, which Putin launched on February 24, weeks after Washington began systematically releasing intelligence secrets to thwart Russia’s attempts to create false pretexts to justify war.
The director of communications of the White House, Kate Bedingfield, has debuted this Wednesday in the daily appearance before the press and in view of the casualties due to coronavirus of the incumbent, Jen Psaki, and the alternate, Karine Jean-Pierre, with this statement: “We have information that Putin has been deceived by the Russian Army, which has sparked tensions between him and his General Staff. We believe they are keeping information from him about the incompetence of his troops and about how much the sanctions are affecting his country’s economy. We suspect that his closest collaborators are afraid to tell him the truth”. Bedingfield has immediately concluded that this is proof that “Putin’s war has been a strategic mistake that has increased Russia’s long-term vulnerability and left the country increasingly isolated on the world stage.”
“One of the Achilles’ heels of autocracies is that no one dares to tell the leader of the day the truth,” Secretary of State Antony Bliken added on Wednesday during a trip to Algeria. “I think that is exactly what we see happening now in Russia.”
In his daily press conference, John F. Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon, has expanded, for his part, on that idea. “If Putin is misinformed or uninformed about what is happening in Ukraine, it is up to his Army; it is his war, and he chose it,” Kirby has said in Washington. “He lacks the context and doesn’t fully understand the extent to which his forces are failing in Ukraine, which is, to be honest, a little awkward.” The US Department of Defense attributes this misunderstanding to Putin’s voluntary isolation during the pandemic and his tendency to publicly rebuke advisers who do not share his views. That would have caused collaborators to have given him overly optimistic reports about Russia’s progress in Ukraine.
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In what appears to be a coordinated action between allies, a senior British espionage official has influenced the United States’ message a few hours later from Australia. Sir Jeremy Fleming, director of the UK’s electronic surveillance agency, has spoken from the University of Canberra about the low morale and incompetence of Russian troops, as well as military and food supply problems. He has also said that his country’s services have indications that some Russian soldiers have surrendered or sabotaged their own vehicles to avoid fighting.