Putin directly confronted by key ally over progress of Ukraine war, says US intelligence


A member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle challenged him over his handling of the Ukraine war, US intelligence sources have claimed, in a sign the Russian president is under mounting pressure.

The disagreement was deemed significant enough to be included in the daily intelligence briefing handed to President Joe Biden.

The official, who was not named, reportedly raised concerns over mismanagement of Russian troops in Ukraine directly with Putin.

"Since the start of the occupation we have witnessed growing alarm from a number of Putin’s inner circle," a Western intelligence official told the Washington Post.

"Our assessments suggest they are particularly exercised by recent Russian losses, misguided direction and extensive military shortcomings."


Western spies are believed to have close links to several members of Putin's inner circle, giving them insight into any criticism of the handling of the war.

A second source said the criticism of Putin’s invasion was "consistent with the way in which the campaign has gone for the Russians, and the atmospherics in the Kremlin".

"There are a lot of people who are convinced this isn’t going well or the right court of action," they told the Washington Post.

Putin has found himself under increasing pressure in recent weeks, following his mobilisation of Russian citizens and significant military defeats in Ukraine.

His inner circle is made up of "very, very few people", according to Western officials, and has become smaller since the start of the war in February.

The mobilisation has sparked domestic unrest and prompted an estimated 700,000 Russians to flee the country.

Further highlighting the chaos caused by Putin's decision, the mobilisation drive has been dogged by bureaucratic incompetence and a lack of equipment and training for those sent to Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin's spokesman, has acknowledged there have been disagreements between Putin and other Russian leaders over the call-up.

"There is disagreement over such moments," he said. "Some think we should act differently, but this is all part of the usual working process."

Mr Peskov said the US intelligence was "absolutely not true".

The Russian president assumed personal control over his military commanders as his close ally Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, was sidelined earlier this year.

Public spats between Putin and Gen Shoigu have been reported throughout the conflict in Ukraine.

According to Western officials, Putin has now resorted to handing out direct orders to low-level commanders on the front line.