Putin confronted by member of inner circle over war’s failures: Report
A member of Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s inner circle has expressed discontent with the Kremlin leader over his handling of the war in Ukraine, according to a report.
While a name could not be confirmed, details of the noted opposition, which U.S. intelligence uncovered, according to the Washington Post, were included in one of President Joe Biden’s daily intelligence briefings.
The critic expressed concerns over the mismanagement of the war effort and mistakes made by military leaders carrying out the war, according to the report on Friday.
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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged some disagreements but said the claim that a person in Putin’s inner circle was challenging him was “absolutely not true,” he told the outlet.
“There is disagreement over such moments. Some think we should act differently,” Peskov said. “But this is all part of the usual working process.” He added, “There are working arguments: about the economy, about the conduct of the military operation. There are arguments about the education system. This is part of the normal working process, and it is not a sign of any split.”
The criticism is the latest indication that the losses in the war in Ukraine are creating turmoil within the Kremlin and Russia at-large despite Putin’s insistence on forging ahead.
Putin isn’t the only Russian leader under intense scrutiny for the way the war, now in its eighth month and without an end in sight, is going.
Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the administration that Russian officials established in the part of Kherson that they control, urged Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to commit suicide following the successful Ukrainian offensive.
“Many are saying that the defense minister — who allowed things to come to this — should simply shoot himself like a [real] officer,” he said in a video on his social media account as he assured Russian state media that “the situation is under control.”
As Russia’s military continued to hit setbacks in its efforts, Putin called up about 300,000 reservists last month, though it spurred an exodus of military-eligible men from the country to avoid joining the war. Shoigu said earlier this week that “over 200,000 reservists have joined the Armed Forces” and that “the personnel of the units that have been set up are undergoing training at eighty training grounds and six training centers.”
Russia is attempting to annex four different regions of Ukraine despite an outcry from Western leaders who have declared the referendums leading up to it fraudulent and the move to take territory a violation of international law. The move has escalated tensions between the West and Russia, in addition to a renewed focus on whether Moscow would use a tactical nuclear weapon now that its successes are few and far between.
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The Biden administration announced new sanctions against Russian officials following the annexation, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned of “catastrophic consequences” should they launch a nuclear weapon, but he and no other U.S. official have provided details on what a response would entail.
Biden warned on Thursday that the war is facing a nuclear “Armageddon” during a fundraising event in New York, adding that this is the “first time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use (of a) nuclear weapon if, in fact, things continue down the path they are going.”
“He’s not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming,” Biden added.