A member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has voiced disagreement directly to the Russian president in recent weeks over his handling of the war in Ukraine, according to information obtained by U.S. intelligence.
The criticism marks the clearest indication yet of turmoil within Russia’s leadership over the stewardship of a war that has gone disastrously wrong for Moscow, forcing Putin last month to order the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of troops in a desperate bid to reverse recent battlefield losses.
The information was deemed significant enough that it was included in President Biden’s daily intelligence briefing and shared with other U.S. officials, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.
The discontent that the member of Putin’s inner circle expressed related to what the insider considered mismanagement of the war effort and mistakes being made by those executing the military campaign, according to one of the people.
The insider’s identity could not be confirmed, although the name has been included in U.S. intelligence reporting.
The new intelligence, coupled with comments from Russian officials, underscores divisions within Putin’s upper echelon, where officials have long been loath to bring bad news to an autocratic Russian leader who is seen as more isolated that at any time in his 22-year rule. [Continue reading…]