UK Spy Chief Says Russian Soldiers Disobey Orders in Ukraine
Demoralized Russian soldiers in the Ukraine were refusing to carry out orders and sabotaging their own equipment and had accidentally shot down their own aircraft, a U.K. intelligence chief said on Thursday.
Jeremy Fleming, who heads the GCHQ electronic spy agency, made the remarks at a speech in the Australian capital Canberra.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had apparently “massively misjudged” the invasion, he said.
“It’s clear he misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people. He underestimated the strength of the coalition his actions would galvanize. He underplayed the economic consequences of the sanctions regime, and he overestimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory,” Fleming said.
“We’ve seen Russian soldiers, short of weapons and morale, refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment, and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” Fleming added.
Russia Bombards Areas Where It Pledged to Scale Back: Ukrainian Officials
Russian forces bombarded areas around Kyiv and another city just hours after pledging to scale back operations in those zones to promote trust between the two sides, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday.
The shelling— intensified Russian attacks on other parts of the country—tempered optimism about any progress in the talks aimed at ending the punishing war.
The Russian military announced Tuesday that it would de-escalate near the capital and the northern city of Chernihiv in order to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations.” But the announcement was met with deep suspicion from Zelenskyy and the West.
Soon after, Ukrainian officials reported that Russian shelling hit homes, stores, libraries, and other civilian sites in and around Chernihiv and on the outskirts of Kyiv. Russian troops also stepped up their attacks on the Donbas region in the east and around the city of Izyum, which lies on a key route to the Donbas, after redeploying units from other areas, the Ukrainian side said.
Olexander Lomako, secretary of the Chernihiv city council, said the Russian announcement turned out to be “a complete lie.”
“At night they didn’t decrease, but vice versa increased the intensity of military action,” Lomako said.
Germany Says to Still Pay for Russian Gas in Euros/Dollars After Scholz-Putin Call
Germany will continue to pay for Russian gas in euros or dollars, a government spokesman said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told the German Chancellor that nothing would change for European partners despite his plan for rouble payments.
Russia has said that because of Western financial sanctions over Ukraine, it plans to require payment for its energy exports—especially the gas that Germany depends on—in roubles rather than the usual euros or dollars.
In a phone call between the leaders, Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that nothing would change for European partners and payments would be made in euros and transferred to Gazprom bank, which would convert the money into roubles, said the German spokesperson.
“Scholz did not agree to this procedure in the conversation, but asked for written information to better understand the procedure,” said the spokesperson.
He added that a Group of Seven agreement, stating that energy supplies from Russia would be paid for only in euros or U.S. dollars, remained.
Germany has triggered an emergency plan to manage gas supplies that could see Europe’s biggest economy ration power if the standoff over Russia’s demand to pay for fuel with roubles disrupts supplies.
Pentagon Sees Russia Starting to Reposition Under 20 Percent of Forces Around Kyiv
Russia has started to reposition under 20 percent of the forces arrayed around Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, but cautioned Russia was expected to refit and resupply them for redeployment, and not bring the forces home.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said some of the Russian forces may have already moved into Belarus, as opposed to their home garrisons.
Kirby also told a news briefing Russian contractor Wagner Group had deployed about 1,000 contractors into Ukraine’s Donbass region, which Moscow has declared a priority.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.