'Misinformed' Putin in 'Self-Inflicted Bubble': Ex-Russian Energy Official

A former Russian official said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has cut himself off from "undesired information" amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The comments, made by ex-deputy energy minister Vladimir Milov on CNN, come as U.S. officials have floated the possibility that Putin has fired advisors amid the invasion, and that those close to the president have been misinforming him about how the Russian military is performing.

CNN host Erin Burnett played a clip of remarks President Joe Biden made about Putin on Thursday: "I'm not saying this with a certainty—he seems to be self-isolating, and there's some indication that he has fired or put under house arrest some of his advisers," the president said.

"Do you think that's happening? That Putin has put advisors under house arrest?" Burnett asked Milov.

"I hear some rumors, it's really hard to verify. I strongly advise against believing anything you hear because we don't know what the credible situation there is. But yes, to some extent he's really misinformed," Milov responded.

"But there is another side of the coin—that he was deliberately cutting himself off from undesired information. So Putin lives right now in sort of a self-inflicted bubble. It's sort of a two-way street: It's not that there are bad advisors who are not informing him, he deliberately built a system where he punished people for bad news and he really only heard what he wanted to here. So this is the reality that we're facing right now," said the ex-official, who now serves as an advisor to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

A U.S. official who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday said the U.S. believes Putin's advisors are misinforming him about Russia's military performance, and about the status of the nation's economy in the wake of Russian sanctions, "because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth."

Putin in ‘Self-Inflicted Bubble’: Ex-Russian Official
A former Russian official argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin has cut himself off from "undesired information" and that he lives in a "self-inflicted bubble" amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Above, Putin speaks in Moscow on March 18. Getty Images

Newsweek attempted to reach Putin's office for comment, but did not receive a response before publication on Saturday afternoon.

Last month, Milov wrote an article in the Journal of Democracy arguing that Putin's "days are numbered," as the country faces economic and technological sanctions and the war in Ukraine "provides an enormous opportunity for Russians to rethink the country's path over the last quarter of a century, and to have a chance for a fresh start."

"The events since February 24 have made real the prospect of an end to Putin's regime as we know it," Milov wrote. "No one can predict the pace of change, but one thing is clear: Putin's system has suffered a series of dire blows to its structural integrity."