A Lonely Vladimir Putin Is Losing Control of His Own Minions in the War on Ukraine

After a series of embarrassing failures in attempts to capture Ukraine’s capital, Kyivin the past 40 days, Russian President Putin finally decided to let my forces retreat and regroup to continue eastern Ukraine. But his buddies couldn’t seem to get the picture straight.

Ramzan Kadyrov, Putin loyalist, head of the Chechen Republic – also known as Putin’s “foot soldier” – said on his Telegram account this week that Russia will still work to capture Kyiv.

We will “take Kyiv and all the other cities,” Kadyrov said.

However, the picture on the ground is far different. With Russian forces fail to capture Kyiv, they left and abandoned that goal, focusing instead on the east. As recently as Tuesday this week, a senior US defense official confirmed in a press conference that Russia is still focusing on the eastern parts of Ukraine.

To be fair, Russia is working to capture the eastern parts of Ukraine, which Mr. Kadyrov mentioned. But for now, his message seems a far cry from Putin’s current planning process.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov enters the hall during the State Council meeting at the Grand Kremlin Palace, in Moscow, Russia, June 26, 2019.

Mikhail Svetlov / Getty

But this is not a function of a protracted war and messages lost in the fog. The list of risks and unplanned communications spans months. In mid-March, Kadyrov announced he and Chechen forces were near Kyiv – a claim that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied. And during his infamous meeting with Russia’s Presidential Security Council in February, Putin lashed out at the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergey Naryshkin, when Naryshkin talked about Russia’s policy towards the East. Ukraine in a way that seems to upset Putin. Naryshkin hesitated and stammered in his words, molding them to Putin’s will as they continued — and as Putin repeatedly interrupted him.

Trouble can be self-inflicted, at least in part. Putin isolated himself from his advisers while waging a war that, unlike any war in Europe before, was captured in real time on social media. All eyes are on Putin and his friends every move. And for Putin’s Russia, which was not built for transparency or to coordinate and deliver messages, the blunders are glaringly obvious.

The way he’s engaged in this fight, the way he’s engaged is like he’s acting on his own.

“The Russians do not practice this. It’s not an open society, they don’t talk to the press – they don’t even try to be transparent. No doubt, because it’s a secret system and they don’t have much experience and don’t use to talk to the press, so it’s inevitable that they work with different purposes, “Douglas London, former director of the CIA, told The Daily Beast. “Putin is a very good decision maker in terms of how he delegates power and authority.”

Vladimir Putin speaks during a concert commemorating the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, on March 18, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.


Examining what Putin wants to do next in the war is like a game of Russian roulette – and many, even within Putin’s inner circle, are just pitching ideas they think might be appropriate or that might suit what Putin wants, even if they have one. According to Anton Barbashin, a Russian political analyst, there is no clue as to what he is thinking.

“Of the many decision-makers or elites in Russia… only a few have a clear understanding of what is really happening. [including] What is a strategy and how does it evolve? We never know who exactly knows the situation,” Barbashin told The Daily Beast. “There are a lot of people who are speculating about how they understand the situation.”

Some of the fake messages coming from advisers are related to their interest in vying for Putin’s attention and trying to show him how loyal and helpful they can be in the fight.

“It’s basically a contest to prove to the Kremlin, ‘Look, this version is better for Russia and I’m ready to do it. I am ready to be the organization you can rely on to solve your problems,” said Barbashin. “They are showing concretely their allegiance to the Kremlin, to Putin, to the cause. And they are trying to compete.”

An increasingly isolated and angry Putin found himself surrounded by advisers, too afraid to tell him that things were not going well on the battlefield, however, leading to he has an inaccurate picture of the war, which could also contribute to bad messaging, according to top Biden administration officials.

“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how bad the Russian military is and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because the His senior adviser is too scared to tell him the truth,” White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield told reporters at a briefing last month.

Putin has bragged about himself so much in recent months that it’s unclear what Moscow’s next move will be.

“Generally it is very confusing even for them, what the decision is… because the Kremlin still doesn’t know,” Barbashin said. “That’s what the Kremlin has been doing for decades now to exercise several choices at once [and] Choose one depending on the case.

Messages from Kadyrov should be taken as salt because he is essentially operating as a sort of vassal ally of Russia – someone with personal goals and an interest in maintaining a foothold in the world. Russian power.

“It is a very special duck in this combination,” says Barbashin. “The way he’s engaged in this fight, the way he’s engaged, it’s like he’s acting on his own.”

Vladimir Putin visits the Vostochny cosmodrome, about 180 km north of Blagoveschensk, Amur region on April 12, 2022.

MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV / Sputnik / AFP via Getty

Putin’s war has run into a host of other problems that have tripped Putin and his comrades. Putin’s forces, for one, have struggled to take Kyiv, a situation that made Putin “frustrated”, according to a CIA analysis shared with US lawmakers. A senior defense official said during a briefing last month that a Russian force was stalled outside Kyiv due to failed supplies and lack of fuel. Russian command and control is a mess. And officials are scratching their heads over why Russia launched a series of cyberattacks on Ukrainian banks and websites before the invasion — but did. mostly failed to run a series of successful hacks while waging war in Ukraine, a move that some analysts say could make their invasion more chaotic for the Ukrainians and give Russia an advantage.

U.S. intelligence officials eventually realized that it was unclear whether Putin had a top military commander in charge of running the war in Ukraine. CNN. Units operating various operations around Ukraine have failed to communicate with each other, resulting in poor resource allocation and lack of coordination, officials said.

They are not organized to function in this very organized chain of command.

Putin seems to know that he may need more coordination if he is to walk away with any “positive” news to bring back to Russia. As Russia has withdrawn from Kyiv and attempted to regroup and refocus on the eastern parts of Ukraine, Russia is choosing Aleksandr Dvornikov, chief of staff of Russia’s Central Military District, as its top commander in Ukraine. And a military convoy north of Izyum may be ready to provide additional logistical support for the offensive in eastern Ukraine, as a way to make up for previous lack of preparation, a senior defense official said. US high said in a press conference on Tuesday.

But this little optical game – announcing a new leader – is unlikely to overhaul the disorganized way the war is unfolding for Russia, especially since the military is currently not equipped for a overall command structure, London said.

London told The Daily Beast: “I don’t think it’s going to offer an immediate solution to many of the problems they’re having, especially in terms of logistics, command control and… morale. “Now they could have said they had this overall battlefield commander… I didn’t necessarily know it was going to be that way because they weren’t organized to work that way. They are not organized to operate in this very organized chain of command. “

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