Russian President Vladimir Putin was misled by advisers who were too scared to tell him how poorly the war in Ukraine is going and how damaging Western sanctions have been, White House and European officials said on Wednesday.

Russia’s February 24 invasion of its southern neighbour has been halted on many fronts by stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces who have recaptured territory even as civilians are trapped in besieged cities.

“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership,” Kate Bedingfield, White House

“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 advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth,” she said.

The US was putting forward this information now to show “this has been a strategic error for Russia,” she said.

The Kremlin made no immediate comment about the assertions after the end of the working day in Moscow, and the Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately reply to a request for

“They were misled, badly trained and then arrived to find old Ukrainian women who looked like their grandmothers yelling at them to go home,” one of the diplomats added.

There were no indications at the moment that the situation could foster a revolt among the Russian military, but the situation was “unpredictable” and Western powers “would hope that unhappy people would speak up,” the senior European diplomat said.

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