Putin’s Ukraine Desperation is Clear: The war in Ukraine isn’t going well at all for Russia and President Vladimir Putin. What was meant to be a “special military operation” that would last from 48 to 72 hours, or a week at the worst, is now nearing its second month with no end in sight.
According to the Ukrainian military, almost 20,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine and approximately thrice that number wounded or captured. That would put Russian casualties over 50,000 since the start of the invasion.
As a result, Putin has been looking to punish people for the Ukraine debacle.
A Bleak Intelligence Picture
After the first few days of the war, a Russian intelligence officer assigned to the FSB internal security service—a rough equivalent to the FBI—leaked a letter online. In it, he described a bleak intelligence picture.
“Recently, we have been increasingly pressed to customize reports to the requirements of management—I once touched on this topic. All these political consultants, politicians and their retinue, influence teams—all this created chaos. Strong. Most importantly, no one knew that there would be such a war, they hid it from everyone,” an anonymous FSB intelligence officer said in a leaked letter.
The letter painted a picture of complete disarray. Now, after almost two months of war, we know that the disarray portrayed in the letter was accurate. Russian commanders couldn’t communicate with their own units, and supply couldn’t reach the frontline units. The Russian military started losing men and materiel left and right.
“Losses: I don’t know how many there are. Nobody knows. For the first two days there was still control, now no one knows what is going on there. You can lose large units in communication. They can be found, or they can dissolve due to being attacked. And there, even the commanders may not know how many of them are running around somewhere nearby, how many died, how many are in captivity. The number of deaths is definitely in the thousands,” the FSB intelligence officer added.
Let The Ukraine Purge Begin
Putin is looking for scapegoats to punish for the debacle in Ukraine. Colonel General Sergei Beseda has been arrested and sent to the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow, a place of horror where the KGB and its predecessor NKVD interrogated and tortured people. Beseda had been placed under house arrest after the reality of the war became apparent to the Kremlin.
Beseda is the head of the FSB’s Service for Operational Information and International Communications, nicknamed the “Fifth Service,” a unit that is tasked with carrying out external operations in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
The Fifth Service is “the most sensitive department of the FSB department, which is in charge of espionage in Ukraine. And now it looks like Vladimir Putin finally understood that the intelligence he was given before the invasion was not extremely accurate. And he has started looking around trying to find someone to blame,” Andrei Soldatov, an expert with the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), told The London Times.
In addition to Beseda, Putin has kicked out or arrested about 150 officers of the FSB’s Fifth Service. The pressure had begun after the first few days.
“I can’t tell you what guided those at the top when deciding on the operation, but now they are methodically lowering all the dogs on us,” the FSB intelligence officer stated in his letter.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.