The Kremlin said on Thursday that claims of President Vladimir Putin being misled by his own military only prove how little the US really knows about Russia.
The response came after the White House and the Pentagon suggested that officials were afraid to speak the truth to Putin about the performance of the Russian Army in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters he was dismayed by claims that advisers have misled the president.
“As it turns out, neither the State Department nor the Pentagon have the real information of what is going on in the Kremlin. They simply don’t understand President Putin, don’t understand the decision-making mechanism, and don’t understand the work we do,” he said.
According to the spokesperson: “It’s not only regrettable, but also raises concerns because such lack of understanding leads to wrong, rash decisions with bad consequences.”
The comment came after Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that Putin “has not been fully informed by his Ministry of Defense at every turn over the last month.” He said the information has been gathered through intelligence.
A similar claim was made by White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield.
“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership,” she said during a press briefing. Bedingfield also stated that advisers were “too afraid to tell him the truth.”
Commenting on the Russian campaign in Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday that “the main goals of the first stage of the operation have generally been accomplished.”
Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to regularize the status of the regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.