The head of British intelligence at the GCHQ said that Russian soldiers refused to carry out orders in Ukraine

LONDON (Reuters) – The head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (GCHQ) said on Wednesday that new intelligence showed that some Russian soldiers in Ukraine had refused to follow orders, sabotaged their equipment and accidentally shot down one of their planes.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 killed thousands, displaced millions and raised fears of a broader confrontation between Russia and the United States. Read more

Head of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Jeremy Fleming, said President Vladimir Putin “significantly miscalculated” the capabilities of Russia’s once powerful armed forces while underestimating the resistance of the Ukrainian people and the resolve of the West, which has punished Moscow with fairly coordinated sanctions. big. .

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“Putin has grossly underestimated the situation,” Fleming said in a speech in Canberra at the Australian National University, according to the transcript of his remarks. We think Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth.”

Citing new intelligence, Fleming said there is evidence that the morale of Russian soldiers is low and they are poorly equipped.

“We’ve seen Russian soldiers – who lack weapons and morale – refuse to follow orders, sabotage their own equipment, and even accidentally shoot down their planes,” Fleming said.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the GCHQ analysis.

GCHQ, which brings together communications from around the world to identify and disrupt threats to Britain, has a close relationship with the US National Security Agency and with wiretapping agencies in Australia, Canada and New Zealand in a consortium called the Five Eyes.

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GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming speaks as he meets Britain’s Queen Elizabeth during her visit at Watergate House to celebrate the centenary of the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) in London, Britain, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool/File Photo

The Russian Defense Ministry said its armed forces are professional and are performing their duty in Ukraine with great success. She says the West spread lies about the operation in an attempt to bring Russia down.

Three US officials familiar with intelligence told Reuters that the US estimates that Russia has failure rates of up to 60% for some of its precision-guided missiles. Read more

US and European officials said on Wednesday that Putin was misled by advisers who were too afraid to tell him how bad the war in Ukraine was and how much Western sanctions had done. Read more The Kremlin did not immediately comment.

Putin says the “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary because the United States was using Ukraine to threaten Russia and Moscow had to defend against the persecution of Russian speakers by Ukraine.

Ukraine says it is fighting an imperial-style land grab and that Putin’s allegations of genocide are nonsense.

Russia says the West has effectively declared economic war on Russia, and so it will now turn east, away from Europe and build a partnership with China.

“But there are risks to them (and to China more) from being too closely allied,” Fleming said.

“Russia understands that in the long run China will become increasingly militarily and economically powerful. Some of its interests collide, and Russia can be taken out of the equation.”

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(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge). Editing by Grant McCall

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