Putin furious at incompetent advisers as amateurs sent to front line

Ukraine: Captured Russian soldier talks to security service

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One of the successor agencies to the KGB, the FSB, is partly shouldering the blame for a series of mistakes made by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine. These include allowing key calls to be intercepted and providing “incompetent” advice to Putin, telling him only what he wanted to hear, reports The Times.

This comes as the Kremlin admits to sending conscripts to fight in Ukraine as images flood social media of broken Russian troops wishing they could go home – just a day after Putin reassured the mothers of his country that conscripts were not involved in the war.

Andrei Soldatov, co-founder and editor of investigative website Agentura, told The Times of the FSB: “It is not a competent organisation.

“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.”

He added that its highly likely they would have tailored their advice to Putin in order to avoid upsetting the despot.

Mr Soldatov said: “We can’t rule out the fact that the intelligence they gathered on the ground was in fact very good.

“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.”

Mr Soldatov’s claims appeared to be confirmed by an alleged report by an FSB officer, in which they stated: “We have been increasingly pressed to customise reports to the requirements of management.

“All these political consultants, politicians and their retinue, influence teams – all this created chaos. Now, even if Zelensky is killed, taken prisoner, nothing will change.”

Philip Ingram, a security expert and former senior British intelligence officer, said: “The FSB is still a relatively old-fashioned organisation trying to play espionage the old-fashioned way, the way it has always done it.

“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.”

The FSB delivered a humiliation to Putin when their report of the death of Russian general Vitaly Gerasimov was intercepted and then published by Ukrainian security services.

An FSB officer, embedded with the 41st army outside Kharkiv, phoned another officer in Russia to report the death.

However, the officer failed to use the service’s much-publicised secure communication channel Era, and instead used a normal sim card to deliver the critical message.

The alleged report by an FSB officer also included complaints about being overworked and being forced to complete meaningless “box-ticking exercises” that had rendered Russia utterly unprepared for the devastation of western sanctions.

The report added: “No one knew that there would be such a war, so no one prepared for such sanctions. It’s just that there is no option for a possible victory.”

Additionally, Russian defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov admitted yesterday that “we have uncovered several instances of the presence of conscripts in the Russian units taking part in the special military operation in Ukraine”. 

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This came just a day after an International Women’s Day address in which Putin denied the use of conscripts in the “special military operation” of the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin said: “I understand how you’re worrying for your beloved ones … I emphasise that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them.”

An emotional video of a captured Russian soldier crying on the phone to his mother emerged as Kyiv invited the worried mothers of Russian troops captured on the battlefield to come and collect their sons, further embarrassed Moscow.

Ukraine has also opened a telephone hotline for Russian parents to find out if their sons are among the dead or captured.

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