A member of Vladimir Putin’s upper command challenged his handling of the Ukraine war in recent weeks, according to US intelligence. The revelation hints at turmoil within Putin’s regime over the management of the war, which has reached its ninth month.
Setbacks and heavy losses experienced by Russian forces during the longer-than-anticipated conflict forced Putin to order part mobilisation of 300,000 troops in September.
Men and women aged between 18 and 60 years old can theoretically be called up as reservists according to Russian legislation, depending on their rank.
The discontent experienced by the Kremlin insider was related to the mismanagement of the war effort and mistakes that have been made while executing the bloody campaign, one insider speaking under anonymity told The Washington Post.
The insider’s identity has not been released but their name is included in US intelligence reports.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council declined to comment on the intelligence.
The extremely private Russian leader has a small number of close and trusted aides which includes colleagues from his KGB days and people he met in the 90s.
Though most have long-standing ties to the leader, intelligence officials question whether loyalty to Putin is slipping.
A Western intelligence official said: “Since the start of the occupation we have witnessed growing alarm from a number of Putin’s inner circle.
“Our assessments suggest they are particularly exercised by recent Russian losses, misguided direction and extensive military shortcomings.”
A second senior Western official said the internal tensions are “consistent with the way in which the campaign has gone for the Russians, and the atmospherics in the Kremlin”.
They added: “There are a lot of people who are convinced this isn’t going well or the right course of action.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged there has been disagreements among Russian officials around crucial decisions taken such as mobilisation.
He said “this is all part of the usual working process”.
Asked about disagreements within Putin’s inner circle, Peskov told the Post: “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.”