Putin Being Misled by Advisors 'Afraid to Tell Him the Truth' About Ukraine

U.S. intelligence officials say that Russian President Vladimir Putin's advisors are misinforming him about how his military is performing in its invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday said there is tension between the Russian leader and his senior defense officials who are "afraid to tell him the truth" and Putin feels misled about the military in Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.

"We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth," the official said according to Reuters.

The Russian President launched his "special military operation" against Ukraine on February 24 with a key goal to overtake the capital of Kyiv within a matter of days. However, Russian troops have been struggling to make advances in Ukraine while facing supply shortages, morale problems and limited directions from officials.

The official said Putin felt misled which led him to mistrust his military leadership. Putin was also unaware his military was using and losing conscripted soldiers in its war against Ukraine showing a "clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president," the official said citing previously classified information, according to Reuters.

The intelligence report was recently declassified but the official did not provide any evidence for how U.S. intelligence came to its conclusion, the AP reported.

Putin said earlier this month that Russia is not and will not be using any conscripted soldiers in Ukraine. A conscripted soldier is an individual who is forced to enroll for service in a country's forces, according to Britannica.

Meanwhile, the West is "much less certain" that Putin "is getting an honest picture on the ground" in Ukraine, a western official told reporters on Tuesday. It is likely Russian elites will start blaming each other for the "lack of success" in Ukraine and start "looking to point the finger at others," the official said according to Business Insider.

"That's one of the reasons why Western media, Ukrainian media, is important in continuing to make sure the reality of this conflict, and how it is causing not only death and destruction to the Ukrainians, but a great deal of death to the Russian forces as well," the official said per Business Insider.

There are various estimates for how many Russian troops have been killed in combat. NATO estimates somewhere between 7,000 and 15,000 soldiers have died since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian Military of Defense said 1,351 service members have been killed while Ukrainian officials estimate over 17,000 Russian troops have died.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Update 3/30/22, 11:38 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

Putin Being Misled By Advisors
Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting to discuss the Ukrainian peace process at the German federal Chancellery on October 19, 2016, in Berlin, Germany. Adam Berry/Getty Images