Forces of Russian President Putin faltered in their invasion of Ukraine due to planning problems, logistics and poor morale, according to US intelligence officials. So Putin’s close friends stepped in and are now working to help make up for the shortfalls in his military by taking the crazy step of adding recruiting. to promote the invasion.
But so far, those efforts have fallen to nil, a senior US defense official said on Friday.
Moscow’s frenzied efforts to muster more forces have turned the war from public announcements to officials reluctant to admit that they need more forces. But the recruitment efforts did not reflect the announcements, the senior official said.
In the latest case of talking points that don’t match reality, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday Russia is recruiting 16,000 people from the Middle East to help fight in Ukraine, according to TASS. Russia has been working to recruit fighters from SyriaThe Wall Street Journal also reported.
The senior defense official said in a call with reporters on Friday, the Pentagon is unlikely to have seen this type of recruitment take place.
“We are aware of recruitment efforts… in Syria,” the senior official said. “We see no indication that their recruitment efforts have paid off and led to the actual arrival of foreign fighters from that part of the world.”
“We don’t know if 16,000 is really a target or just a target,” the official added.
The Kremlin also recently admitted that it has begun conscripts to its forces – despite promises from Putin that he would not rely on conscripts.
“What you are seeing is poor planning versus actual execution.”
However, that also did not materialize, according to the senior defense official.
“There is nothing to say about the Russian reinforcements,” the official said. “We haven’t seen any signs, at least not tangible ones, that they’re trying to ramp up manpower from elsewhere.” The official added that that could change in the coming days.
Intelligence officials told lawmakers during a briefing on Capitol Hill this week. According to analysis from the US Defense Intelligence Agency shared with members of Congress, Russia suffered between 2,000 and 4,000 casualties in just a few weeks. And for about a week now, a group of Russian forces has stagnated outside Kyiv and has made only about 5km of progress in recent days, the senior defense official said.
The director of Russia’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in testimony so far that Russia has been surprised at the amount of resistance it has encountered from Ukrainians.
“They are facing significantly more resistance from the Ukrainians than they expected and have serious military shortcomings,” DNI Avril Haines said Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee. Institute, adding that Russia continues to have “moral problems” and “internal military challenges”. and “significant logistical problems.”
“This is not something the Russians have experience with,” said a senior defense official. “What you’re seeing is poor planning versus actual execution.”
Members of Congress are beginning to warn that Putin may be looking to rely on Russian-backed mercenaries from the so-called Wagner group in Ukraine. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Mike Braun (R-IN) called last Thursday The Biden administration investigated and imposed sanctions on the Wagner group, a private Russian contractor that has been operating as a proxy fighting group for the Russian government globally in recent years.
The mercenary group has fueled conflict from Syria to Libya to the Central African Republic, where Wagner’s mercenaries have carried out extrajudicial killings, according to a State Department analysis. an analysis by the State Department.
“We owe it to our allies to punish to the greatest extent possible the private actors directly involved in the warming of Russia in Ukraine, and we call on you to take all measures. necessary to hold them accountable,” the group of senators said in a letter they sent to the Departments of Defense, State and Treasury.
“Basically, they’re getting everyone they can get.”
This isn’t Ukraine’s first showdown with Wagner: Wagner-affiliated mercenaries also fought in 2014 in eastern Ukraine. Satisfied Ukrainian intelligence accused Wagner mercenaries of running the operation in Ukraine this year. Earlier this month, Ukrainian officials said Ukraine President Zelensky has survived three assassination attempts—With Wagner’s fingerprints.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s so-called “private army” is made up of a network of disparate entities linked to Putin’s right-hand man for Russian propaganda, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, or “Putin’s chef”, according to the Biden Administration. And although the Russian government has denied links to Wagner, the group is widely believed to have links to Russia’s Ministry of Defense and Main Intelligence Service (GRU), as one of its founders, Dmitry Utkin, is a former GRU officer.
In late February, the Wagner group appeared to be aiming to increase hiring in an effort to attract more mercenaries to help Russian forces invade Ukraine, said Vera Mironova, a Russian-American academic and research fellow. research fellow at Harvard University, told The Daily Beast. .
Mironova said the frenzied attempt to recruit Wagner was just the latest sign that Russia was reaching a point of despair, lacking the necessary manpower to carry out its invasion of Ukraine.
“That’s how their resources get stuck,” Mironova, who is on the ground in Kyiv, told The Daily Beast. “It means that Russia is about to run out of troops to fight. Basically, they’re getting everyone they can get. ”
The Daily Beast was unable to independently verify the origin of the recruitment plea.
However, as the Wagner team reports, the call for more personnel may not be just to make up for planning problems or shortcomings on the battlefield. Researchers have long said that Wagner provides Moscow with both combat power and legitimate denial at the same time.
The fact that posts are going viral about efforts to recruit more fighters for the Wagner Group, Mironova said, could also be a Russian information operations tactic to instill fear and anxiety in Ukraine. as Russia continues to try to take the upper hand, Mironova said.
“In terms of thinking about the psychological operations… that is also a boon for Russia” in inducing some fear, Mironova told The Daily Beast.
The news that Russia may be looking for more manpower in Ukraine coincides with reports that Belarus may be organizing an attack about Ukraine in the coming hours.
In an effort to bolster Ukraine’s forces, the Biden administration should send Ukraine an additional shipment of military aid from previously approved packages, the senior defense official said. And more is in the works — legislators almost approved it 14 billion dollars in aid to Ukraine this week.
“Tonight is very sensitive.”
The past few weeks in Ukraine have been extremely difficult as Russia attacks cities across the country and millions of Ukrainians and residents have fled, hoping their escape route will not be the next target of the force. Russian quantity.
But even so, on Friday night – as warnings of a possible Belarusian attack spread and as Russian forces regrouped northwest of Kyiv after repeated setbacks – tensions seemed to is on the rise in Kyiv, Mironova told the Daily Beast.
“Tonight is very sensitive [because of] threats from Belarus and the regrouping of the Russian army. “
According to the Pentagon, while some movement of the Russian forces has stalled — their vehicles are plowing into roadside trees to try to disguise their position, according to the Pentagon — some Putin’s rearguard outside Kyiv has moved on in recent times, the senior defense official said.