Hot on the heels of embarrassing reports of Russian recruits fighting each other and Moscow loyalists calling for Kremlin ministers to kill themselves, it seems the rage against Vladimir Putin’s handling of his invasion of Ukraine is now openly being conveyed to the man himself by members of his own inner circle.
A report Friday—which is Putin’s 70th birthday—said that one of the despot’s closest allies had openly challenged the disastrous way the war was being conducted. The landmark challenge was even significant enough to be included in U.S. President Joe Biden’s daily intelligence briefing, according to anonymous officials cited by the Washington Post.
Although the individual who voiced the dissent was not identified, their discontent was said to center around mistakes being made by those directing the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“Since the start of the occupation we have witnessed growing alarm from a number of Putin’s inner circle,” a Western intelligence official told the Post. “Our assessments suggest they are particularly exercised by recent Russian losses, misguided direction and extensive military shortcomings.”
Analysts of the war don’t have to look far to find examples of such shortcomings, with embarrassing battlefield blunders clocking up at a rate as alarming as the number of Russians currently seeking to dodge Putin’s draft by fleeing the country.
As well as the embarrassing leak from U.S. officials, British intelligence also gave Putin an unwelcome birthday surprise with a mind-blowing report on the staggering number of captured Russian tanks and armored vehicles currently being used by Ukraine.
“Repurposed captured Russian equipment now makes up a large proportion of Ukraine’s military hardware,” the report from the U.K.’s defense ministry said. “Ukraine has likely captured at least 440 Russian Main Battle Tanks, and around 650 other armored vehicles since the invasion. Over half of Ukraine’s currently fielded tank fleet potentially consists of captured vehicles.”
“The failure of Russian crews to destroy intact equipment before withdrawing or surrendering highlights their poor state of training and low levels of battle discipline,” the report added.
The Kremlin’s latest ignominies come after a series of crushing military setbacks in Ukraine, which has seen Moscow’s forces kicked out of key areas in territory that Putin is claiming to formally control after signing treaties to annex huge swathes of Ukraine into the Russian Federation.
Having plunged his nation into chaos and sparking fears about nuclear weapon use the world over, Putin is said to be working on his birthday this year where he would have once spent the day with an old comrade fishing in Siberia. It’s probably just as well, as you’d be hard pressed to find many up for a hearty rendition of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”