Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unchallenged power has led to catastrophic “strategic errors” that have been a disaster for the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to one of Britain’s most senior spy chiefs.
Sir Jeremy Fleming, the head of the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is set to give a damning analysis of Putin’s leadership during a rare public speech in London on Tuesday. The boss of Britain’s equivalent of the NSA will also say that “Russia’s forces are exhausted” and are facing a dangerous depletion of supplies and soldiers, now forced to rely on prisoners and involuntarily conscripts to prop up Moscow’s shambling war effort.
“Far from the inevitable Russian military victory that their propaganda machine spouted, it’s clear that Ukraine’s courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide,” Sir Jeremy is set to say during a lecture at the Royal United Services Institute defense think tank, the Telegraph reports. “Having failed in two major military strategies already, Putin’s plan has hit the courageous reality of Ukrainian defense. With little effective internal challenge, his decision-making has proved flawed. It’s a high-stakes strategy that is leading to strategic errors in judgment.”
The spy boss will also say his agency has seen Russian forces on the frontline left in dire straits due to mismanagement of the conflict. “Their gains are being reversed,” Sir Jeremy will say. “The costs to Russia—in people and equipment—are staggering. We know—and Russian commanders on the ground know—that their supplies and munitions are running out. Russia’s forces are exhausted. The use of prisoners to reinforce, and now the mobilization of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts, speaks of a desperate situation.”
The searing analysis comes after Putin unleashed a brutal missile barrage across Ukrainian cities Monday which left at least 14 dead and 97 injured, according to the nation’s State Emergency Service. The deadly strikes—which supposedly targeted critical energy infrastructure but also managed to hit a pedestrian footbridge and a children’s playground in Kyiv—were launched in retaliation for a truck bombing which inflicted devastating damage to the Crimean Bridge over the weekend. Putin said Ukrainian intelligence forces were responsible for the “act of terrorism” on the 12-mile structure, which was built to connect Russia to Crimea following the Kremlin’s annexation of the peninsula in 2014.
With Russia running out of reinforcements, friends, and supplies, Sir Jeremy separately told a BBC radio show that his agency was watching for indicators that Putin is considering using his nuclear arsenal. He did not suggest that there had been any signs detected so far, adding that any talk of nukes was itself “very dangerous.”
But the intelligence chief also believes Putin’s problems are mounting on the home front too, with Russian citizens beginning to see “how badly Putin has misjudged the situation,” Sir Jeremy will say in his lecture. “They’re fleeing the draft, realizing they can no longer travel. They know their access to modern technologies and external influences will be drastically restricted. And they are feeling the extent of the dreadful human cost of his war of choice.”