Has Putin Been Misinformed About Russian Army’s Performance in Ukraine?


Autocracies have one major disadvantage: the same fear that keeps people on the right track in times peaceful is an obstacle in times of war.

“With regard to President Putin, look, what I can tell you is this, and I said this before, one of the Achilles’ heels of autocracies is that you don’t have people in those systems who speak truth to power or who have the ability to speak truth to power,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Algiers on Wednesday. “And I think that is something that we’re seeing in Russia.”

Few members of Putin’s inner circle are eager to share information with him about the less successful aspects of his war in Ukraine. They believe that Putin ignores the “don’t kill the messenger” warning. While Putin is not having his advisers executed, some high-ranking intelligence officers have been detained. The problem is that the advisors who are part of the inner circle might not stay in the inner circles for too long if they bring Putin bad information.

New York Times: “Others have stated that the rigid isolation of Mr. Putin during the pandemic, and his willingness to publicly rebuke advisors who don’t agree with him, has created a level of fear or wariness in the top ranks of the Russian military. Officials believe Mr. Putin is generating insufficient or optimistic reports on the progress of Russian forces. This has created mistrust with his military advisors”.

According to U.S. officials, Mr. Putin appeared to be unaware that Russian soldiers had been using conscripts in Ukraine and that some of the dead were drafted soldiers. According to a U.S. official who spoke under anonymity to discuss sensitive but declassified material, Mr. Putin’s ignorance revealed “a clear breakdown of the flow of accurate information towards the Russian president.” According to the official, there is “persistent tension” between Putin and the Defense Ministry.

U.S. intelligence believes that Putin is misinforming or being misled by his advisors about the impact of sanctions on Russia’s economy. If these reports are to be believed, Vladimir Putin is being misinformed or misled by his advisors on the effect of sanctions on Russia’s economy.

That includes Sergei Shoigu (the Minister of Defense), his trusted ally, and longtime crony. Since the beginning of Putin’s reign, Shoigu and Putin had been friends and allies. They were reunited on vacation last year. Shoigu, however, has been faking war reports and failing to tell his boss about the quality troops deployed in Ukraine.

Shoigu may have believed that he was invincible. Putin has put Shoigu on hold for now. After the fighting ceases, one would expect Shoigu to lose his job or be deported.

Putin must have been shocked by the actions or inactions of his most trusted advisors. Putin will have mastered his war machine by the time he is ready to invade the next country. The military will be much more efficient.