Suggestions by US officials that President Vladimir Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him awkward truths about Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine show how little they understand him or Russia’s government, the Kremlin said on Thursday.
White House and European officials said on Wednesday that they believed Putin had been misled by advisers who were too scared to tell him how poorly the conflict in Ukraine was going or how badly Western sanctions had hit Russia.
“To our regret - and, in fact, this probably even causes our concern - it turns out that neither the State Department nor the Pentagon has real information about what is happening in the Kremlin,” Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters.
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Russia’s advances have been halted on many fronts by stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces, and it has yet to take control of a major city, while thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed.
White House communications director Kate Bedingfield had told reporters that Russia had made a “strategic error” and that a lack of accurate reporting had led to “persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership.”
But Peskov was dismissive.
“They just don’t understand what happens in the Kremlin, they don’t understand President Putin, they don’t understand the decision-making mechanism, and they don’t understand the way we work,” he said.
“This is not just a pity, but causes anxiety. Because such a complete misunderstanding - it leads to wrong decisions, to rash decisions that have very bad consequences.”