In a speech given in Australia, Sir Jeremy Fleming, said Putin’s advisers were “afraid to tell the truth” about the extent of his guilt. The head of Britain’s GCHQ intelligence service said: “It all adds to the strategic miscalculation that Western leaders have warned of Putin.
“It’s become his personal war, at a cost to innocent people in Ukraine and, increasingly, to ordinary Russians too.”
This is not the first time Western officials have warned of Putin’s miscalculation.
Previously, US officials made the same point, arguing that Putin was misled by advisers who were too afraid to tell him how bad the war in Ukraine was and how damaging Western sanctions were.
Fleming delivered in his speech a list of problems facing Russian troops, including low morale, logistical failures and high casualties.
He said: “Their command and control is in chaos.
“While we believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell the truth, the extent of this misjudgment should be clear to the regime. It’s become his personal war.”
The spy chief also warned China not to get “too close” to Russia as the war continued, the latest in a series of statements by western leaders and officials aimed at trying to persuade Beijing not to supply money and weapons to Moscow.
Officials in Washington said that Putin “didn’t even know that his military was using and losing conscription . . . show clear details in an accurate flow of information”.
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Fleming said Putin had made a clear “strategic choice” to ally with China before the fighting broke out, but that underlying tensions remained between the two countries – and the risks to both trying to work together.
He said: “Russia understands that, in the long term, China will become increasingly strong militarily and economically.
“Some of their interests are conflicting; Russia could be squeezed out of the equation.
“And it is equally clear that it is China who wants to set the rules of the road.
“The norms for a new global governance are not well served by close alliances with regimes that willfully and illegally ignore them all.”
The speech at the Australian National University in Canberra came after Downing Street said Boris Johnson had “frank and honest” discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.