In what some experts believe is a sign of frustration with an invasion that isn’t going as he’d hoped, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly arrested one of his top intelligence officials and confined him to house arrest.
According to Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov, cited Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) sources who confirmed FSB foreign intelligence head Sergey Beseda and his deputy, Anatoly Bolyukh, had been arrested and detained, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
The arrests were also confirmed by exiled Russian human rights activist Vladimir Osechkin, who stated that FSB officers had executed searches at more than 20 Moscow addresses, specifically seeking those who are suspected of communicating with journalists.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to be conducting purges of military generals and intelligence personnel, including arrests of FSB (Federal Security Service) officers, according to an analysis by the Institute for the Study of War https://t.co/bOf4cEyC13
— Saul of United (@Viatcheslavsos3) March 12, 2022
“The formal basis for conducting these searches is the accusation of the embezzlement of funds earmarked for subversive activities,” explains Osechkin. “The real reason is unreliable, incomplete and partially false information about the political situation in Ukraine.”
According to Soldatov, the FSB simply doesn’t match up to its KGB predecessor.
“It is not a competent organization,” Soldatov told The Times earlier this month. “The final reports that they produced on the situation on the ground in the run-up to the invasion were simply not right, which is part of the reason as to why things have gone so badly for Russia.”
While, since 2014, Russia has invested a lot of efforts and money into trying to drum up support among Ukrainians for a Russian invasion, the success of those efforts was “terribly miscalculated” by Putin, Soldatov stated.
“We can’t rule out the fact that the intelligence htey gathered on the ground was in fact very good,” Soldatov said. “The problem is that it is too risky for superiors to tell Putin what he doesn’t want to hear, so they tailor their information. The tailoring probably takes place somewhere between the rank of colonel and general in the FSB.”
The arrests of two Russian intelligence officers may be a sign that Putin will try to save face and shift the blame for what was meant to be a quick military victory.
According to former senior British intelligence officer, Philip Ingram, that “tailoring” is something the FSB may soon come to regret.
“The FSB is still a relatively old-fashioned organization trying to play espionage the old-fashioned way, the way it has always done it,” Ingram said. “They will be smarting at the moment, as Putin is very angry. You can see it in his body language, the way he is gesturing, the terminology he is using. He blames them for seeding him the advice that led to the poor decision-making in Ukraine.”
According to former CIA Director David Petraeus, Russia’s “underwhelming performance” may be a result of the U.S. and NATO overestimating the training the Russian military has received.
“I think an awful lot of people got caught up in the narrative that President Putin had invested a great deal in his military, had brought it back from the depths of the post-Cold War period and seemed to take from these limited operations that were conducted, for example, in Syria, which was really mostly just Russian Air Force dropping bombs in an area where they had complete air supremacy, but took from that, that this is a really much improved military force,” Petraeus said Saturday on Fox News’s “One Nation with Brian Kilmeade.”
But as Petraeus notes, “we just haven’t seen that.”
“They have failed to integrate their ground maneuver and their air assets, something we thought they would use to great effect,” Petraeus continued. “That’s really the essence of blitzkrieg going all the way back to, say, 1939, and they haven’t been able to achieve combined arms effects.”
“In other words,” Petraeus stated, “using armor together with infantry, with engineers, with indirect fire, mortars, artillery, drones and all the rest of that, they just have not seen any of those kinds of operations, which again, we take for granted and are just the normal standard.”
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