One of the mysteries surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin's incursion into Ukraine is what went wrong. A majority of very smart people believed the war would be finished within 48 to 72 hours. Many would not have believed on the morning of February 24 that the Russian Army would be handed its ass just as Week Six was set to begin. Even so, there are people who haven't given up.
There are a number of fundamental flaws that led to the Russian invasion, putting the absurdity of the whole mess aside. They attacked over a wide front that had too many goals and too few troops to fulfill the tactical tasks, especially when they encountered an armed opponent. They underestimated the fighting spirit and fighting skills that characterize the Ukrainian Armed Forces. They dismissed any possibility that the Ukrainian population might not accept them.
As they believed they could overcome their adversaries’ abilities easily, they didn't plan adequately for rearming, refueling, and maintaining their combat vehicles or sustaining their troops. The odds of a Russian soldier being able to recover from his injuries are similar to those during World War II.
As Week Six of the war approaches, the possibility of a new story is emerging. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was misinformed by his advisors regarding the Russian military's struggle in Ukraine, according to classified US intelligence. The information, as reported by several US officials, shows the growing tensions between the Russian president and the Ministry of Defense, which includes Russia's defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, who was one of the most trusted within the Kremlin's top officials’ circle.
While in Algiers, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken acknowledged the allegations of Mr. Putin having been given poor information from his advisors. “With regard to President Putin, look, what I can tell you is this, and I said this before, one of the Achilles' heel[s] 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. And I think that is something that we're seeing in Russia.”
Some American officials have stated that Putin's resolute isolation during the outbreak and his determination to publicly denigrate advisors who don't share his opinions have led to some degree of skepticism or even fear among the upper positions in Russia's military. Officials suspect that Putin is getting incomplete or overly optimistic information about Russian forces’ developments.
Putin seemed genuinely unaware that the Russian military was employing conscripts in Ukraine and that draft soldiers were among the dead during combat, according to US officials. His apathy revealed “a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president,” according to a US official, who spoke on condition of confidentiality to discuss the classified, sensitive documents. It appears that there “is now persistent tension” between the Russian president and the defense ministry, according to the official. It was also reported that Putin may have an incomplete understanding of how damaging Western sanctions have been to the Russian economy.
The action continues to progress poorly from the perspective of Russian forces. The Ukrainian army has not only stood up to the Russians but has begun counter-attacking. A few US officials believe that top Russian officials are cautious about providing accurate assessments, possibly fearing that those who relay bad news could be held accountable for the military's failures on the battlefield.
The Russian military's mistakes have damaged the trust between Russian President Putin and his Ministry of Defense. Even though Shoigu had been considered one of the few advisors in whom Mr. Putin confided, the protracted conflict in Ukraine has damaged the trust between the two. And Putin has put two top intelligence officials under house arrest after failing to provide adequate information prior to the attack, which could have revealed the true climate in Ukraine.
As proof of Putin's increasing discontent, the United States has in recent weeks been constructing an intelligence dossier that shows that the Russian president was not getting correct evaluations from senior officials of the Ministry of Defense and other top Russian officials. US officials believe that Putin is continuing to be misled and that top advisors aren't willing to share the truth with him.
The apparent chaos within the Kremlin is much of what we do know. Putin doesn't strike one as a person who loves to be told “no.” Instead, Putin seems to agree with former President Barack Obama's notion that he's the smartest person in the room. He is able to see things that nobody else does. Remember this? ”I believe I'm a better speechwriter [than] my colleagues' speech writers. I'm more knowledgeable about the policies on a particular topic [than] my policy director. In fact, I'll say right now that I'm likely to believe that I'm a superior political director over my political director.”
In all fairness, Putin has probably realized that he's been surrounded by ignorant people and has come to trust in his judgment throughout his time in office. He also appears to be a perfect case study (as we have seen in the U.S. with presidents Obama and Biden, although it's impossible to know who Biden has hired since the latter is a D-level fool) of the famous B-school aphorism that reads “A's hire A's, and B's hire C's.”This means that Putin has chosen to surround himself with C's.
Putting aside for an instant the fact that the individuals who made this assertion were the same ones who helped and facilitated the Russia Hoax perpetrated against President Trump and who declared Hunter Biden's laptop indicative of a Russian provocateur, is any aspect of the story plausible if it is reported by people who are unable to tell the truth?
Does it make sense that the whole Russian government was afraid to inform the Emperor about his new clothes? It's possible that it was; however, it demonstrates an amazing level of self-delusion. Was the man fed horse crap about the capabilities of the Russian army, as armies tend to make up stories about their readiness–unless there's a system that enforces the regulations, and there's no culture of lying about reports within the officers' corps? It’s likely that he's been closely observing Western sanctions since he complains about them all the time. It’s hard to imagine that Putin is the “reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter” type of person, as described in the report, who would make an official decision that conscripts shouldn't be employed in combat. Likewise, an officer in the chain of command could find the courage to declare, “Igor, I don't care that you are a conscript, and I don't care what Putin says, I'm telling you to get on the f***ing truck.” This seems like complete nonsense.
If we believe there is a possibility that the Russian military has been lying with a smile regarding its capabilities in front of political leaders and even to its top officers, we must consider the possibility that Putin has no idea about what's happening in Ukraine, particularly about the number of deaths. At the moment, it's like the flies have come to the surface, and everyone with the slightest bit of survival instinct is running from the dust. It's hard to believe that the crowds aren't gathering to criticize their foes and adversaries and blame them for the major part they played in the mess. Even if senior officials aren't telling the defense minister that they aren't aware, the “little bird” will chirp around in the boss's ears. That could explain the fact that the defense minister hasn't been seen for almost three weeks, and also why others are performing what he should be doing. The reason the story is less plausible is the fact that his assessment of the situation was released this week. Why is this happening now? Why didn't it happen two weeks ago, when similar information was available?
Overall, the intel leak appears to serve a different purpose. It's almost as if they're providing Putin with the benefit of the doubt since his staff lied to him. Think of it as an off-ramp to make negotiations easier. It allows him to rid the upper ranks of the bureaucracy as well as the military and blame them for both their poor intelligence and unsustainable strategy. After that, he's left with the responsibility of the initial concept.