Furious Vladimir Putin has begun a witch-hunt of his most trusted inner circle to work out which “guilty men” are to blame for the failure of his Ukraine war strategy.
The Russian president is believed to be “incandescent” with rage as his military plans were leaked to the West, who then handed it over with his Ukrainian enemies.
The failure is seen as one of the key factors—several of his top generals and elite forces have been eliminated during the four weeks of warfare.
Putin is said to be growing wary of his close ally and friend he goes holidaying with, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, who is in overall charge of the stalling military operation.
Long-time ally FSB security service head Alexander Bortnikov-tipped as a stand-in should Putin fall in a coup-is also under pressure, as is Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff.
Another target of Putin’s fury is Igor Kostyukov, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed forces, who may face imminent removal.
A source said: “He is incandescent that US and UK intelligence appear to know the Russian army’s next moves all the time, starting with predicting the invasion before he was ready to acknowledge it.”
It comes as the Kremlin admitted more than 10,000 Russian soldiers have so far been killed in Ukraine, with thousands more injured, Mirror Online reports.
Morale is so low several are said to be hunting for Ukrainian ammunition to shoot themselves in the leg so they are sent home from the frontlines.
Putin is believed to have said to his commanders losing 50,000 would be “nothing compared to the goals that will be achieved after the victory”.
Russia’s loss of half a dozen generals is seen as linked to the leaks of his military operation movements.
Russian security expert Andrei Soldatov said military counterintelligence is probing an FSB security service department.
He told the New Yorker: “That could mean that, finally, people in Moscow started asking themselves why the US intelligence was so accurate.
“Military counterintelligence is mostly about mole-hunting, identifying the sources of leaks.
“So it looks like now Putin is getting angry, not only with bad intelligence and the bad performance in Ukraine but also about the sourcing of the US intelligence about the invasion, and why US intelligence was so good before the invasion, and why the Americans I knew so many things about what was coming.”
The climate of fear means that intelligence on the scale of Ukraine’s likely resistance to Russian invaders was hidden from Putin.
But Soldatov does not expect a move by his inner circle to assassinate Putin, despite the increasing hostile treatment they face.
“I think now Putin is almost in no danger,” he told ZDF Heute in Germany.
“He has two security services, who are primarily responsible for ensuring that nothing happens to Putin personally.
“We know that he himself is a former intelligence officer, who understands the different risks.
“He often claims that he successfully survived from 12 to 13 assassination attempts on his life.
“In this sense, everything is safe for him.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.