Putin being misled by advisers on Ukraine war: White House

Mar 31, 2022: The White House says Russian President Vladimir Putin is being misled by advisers who are afraid to tell him how bad the war in Ukraine is.

Meanwhile, British intelligence says Russian troops in Ukraine are demoralized, lacking equipment and refusing to carry out orders. The White House said Mr Putin was not being told about the full impact of the sanctions on the Russian economy. The Kremlin has not yet commented on the findings.

White House spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said the US had information that Mr Putin “felt misled by the Russian military” and this had resulted in “persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership”.

“Putin’s war has been a strategic blunder that has left Russia weaker over the long term and increasingly isolated on the world stage,” she said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby called the analysis “disturbing” because an uninformed Putin could lead to a “less than loyal” attempt to end the conflict through peace talks. “The other thing is you don’t know how such a leader would react to bad news,” he said.

Ukrainian forces have begun attempts to retake some areas from Russia, which on Tuesday said it would scale back operations around Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv.

On the ground, U.S and Ukrainian officials say Russia is continuing to reposition forces away from Kyiv, probably as part of its effort to refocus on eastern regions.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry proposed a one-day ceasefire in besieged Mariupol on Thursday to let people leave, while a U.S defence official said some Russian troops were leaving the Chernobyl area – home to a former nuclear plant that was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986 – and heading to neighbouring Belarus

On the other hand, peace talks between Russia and Ukraine are due to restart online on 1 April, according to Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia.

According to a report by Reuters, Mr Arakhamia said Ukraine had proposed the leaders of both countries meet, but Russia declined, saying more work was needed on a draft treaty.

Zelenskyy meanwhile characterised the talks as “only words, no specifics yet”, following a similarly downbeat assessment from Russia.

Delegations from Moscow and Kyiv held three hours of discussions in Istanbul on Tuesday. Ukraine said it had proposed to become a neutral state in exchange for security guarantees.

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