Head of UK spy service says Russian soliders increasingly unwilling to obey orders

Amid continued reports of the surprising degree of difficulty the Russian military has encountered in its conflict with Ukraine comes word from a British sky chief that some of its soldiers have engaged in conduct that is arguably akin to surrender, as the Associated Press reports.

That startling characterization of conditions on the ground came from Jeremy Fleming, head of the GCHQ electronic spy service during remarks delivered in Canberra, Australia on Thursday.

In Fleming’s estimation, President Vladimir Putin has been blindsided by the challenges that have met Russian forces almost from the start of the invasion in late February, and the situation has become even more daunting as his own service members have begun to revolt in certain circumstances.

“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 of Putin.

Putting a fine point on just how precarious the situation has become within the ranks of those fighting in Ukraine, Fleming continued, “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.”

Such an assessment seems to align with a report last week that a Russian solider deliberately ran over his own commander with a tank as his colleagues railed against Putin’s “bulls***” invasion.

The Daily Mail later noted that the brigade commander in question, Colonel Yuri Medvedev, ultimately died of the injuries inflicted by his rebellious and frustrated charges, an outcome one Western official appeared to be “a consequence of the scale of losses that had been taken by his brigade” and which “gives an insight into some of the morale challenges the Russian force are having.”

According to Reuters, U.S. intelligence officials also believe Russia has sustained a noteworthy 60% failure rate for certain types of precision-guided missiles and that Putin has been ill-served by close advisers who did not have the courage to inform him of just how devastating the military losses and economic damage caused by the war have been.

The outlet also noted that even so, the Russian defense ministry continues to assert that its military is carrying out its duties successfully and with professionalism, and any impression to the contrary was simply the result of Western propaganda operations designed to aid Ukraine. As such, whether any type of course-correction from the Kremlin may be on the horizon is something that remains to be seen.