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Russia hits back at U.S. intelligence claims that Putin was ‘misled’ over Ukraine war

President-elect Vladimir Putin ahead of being sworn-in as President of Russia at St Andrew’s Hall of the Moscow Kremlin.
Mikhail Metzel | TASS via Getty Images

Russia’s Kremlin has rebuffed claims made by the U.S. that President Vladimir Putin felt he was “misled” by his military commanders over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“To our regret and even concern neither the Department of State nor the Pentagon have authentic information about what is happening in the Kremlin,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a briefing Thursday.

“They just do not understand what is happening in the Kremlin, they do not understand Russian President Vladimir Putin, they do not understand the mechanism of decision-making and they do not understand the style of our work,” Peskov added, according to state news agency TASS.

“This is not just regrettable. It causes our concern, because such utter misunderstanding results in wrong decisions, in careless decisions that have very bad consequences.”

The comments came after a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment released Wednesday suggested that Putin had not been given the whole truth about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Statements by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield on Wednesday included comments that Putin “felt misled by the Russian military” and this had resulted in “persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership.”

Putin is thought to have expected Russian forces to be able to occupy Ukraine with some ease, with the aim of unseating the Ukrainian government and installing a pro-Russian regime as Moscow looks to expand its sphere of influence over former Soviet states.

However, Russian forces have faced staunch resistance from both Ukrainian forces and thousands of volunteer civilian fighters across the country.

To date, Russia has only captured one city, Kherson, while a much-feared assault on the capital Kyiv has yet to begin, the second-largest city Kharkiv continues to resist and the western city of Lviv remains relatively unscathed.

Defense analysts have said that Russian troops were ill-prepared for the invasion, but this may not have been communicated to Putin by military commanders eager to please and reluctant to look incompetent.

Analysts told CNBC Thursday that Putin’s inner circle are either too loyal, or too scared, to question the strongman leader. As a result, despite the unpopular war, no one is likely to challenge his leadership or instigate a coup against Putin.

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