According to recent reports, an FSB chief and his deputy are under house arrest after being blamed for the “crucial mistakes” made in the first fortnight of the invasion. Meanwhile, messages of discontent circulating online from an FSB agent show the despair of many Russians at the war and how it is being managed.
Dr Mark Galeotti, a Russian security affairs expert and director of Mayak Intelligence, said: “For a leader whose regime increasingly depends on his spies and secret police, such initial signs of anger and demoralisation must be a worrying sign – if anyone is telling him about them.”
Putin, who rose up the ranks of the KGB in Soviet Russia before becoming the country’s leader, is facing increasing public outcry over a bloody war against a fellow Slavic people.
Police in Russia have arrested thousands of demonstrators at protests across the country on a daily basis for much of the invasion.
Now, serving officers in Russia’s National Guard, which is utilised for dispersing protesters in the street, are now turning to social media to claim they are being used as “cannon fodder” in Ukraine.
READ MORE: Putin braces for coup from ‘disgruntled’ senior Russian generals
Western military chiefs believe that Russia’s military has been depleted by an astonishing Ukrainian defence.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, chief of the defence staff, said last week Putin’s forces had already been “decimated”.
There have been reports of reservists and young men being conscripted into the invasion, and Ukraine has posted images of captured prisoners of war looking depleted and overwhelmed.
Writing in the Telegraph today (Tuesday), Dr Galeotti commented: “Crucial mistakes were made in the initial fortnight of the Ukraine war.
At the start of March, a supposed Russian security services whistleblower wrote that the operation had been an organisational “clusterf***” since the start.
The FSB source – whose account was confirmed to Bellingcat journalists by other intelligence sources – added: “The Blitzkrieg failed. It’s entirely impossible to complete the job at this point.”
They claimed that the service’s management had pushed for reports and analyses to be rushed, and were pushing for reports to be written “in a tone that implies victory”.
The source said that he had “barely any sleep” for several days, and was feeling “fog in my brain”.
They added that when it came to Russian losses – which Ukraine estimates to be over 10,000 – “I don’t know how many there are. No one knows.
“The first two days there was some sense of control, now nobody knows what’s happening. We can lose comms with large detachments. They can be found, or they can be torn apart by attacks.
“Even commanders don’t know how many of their soldiers are running around, how many died, how many are prisoners.
“The amount dead is surely in the thousands, maybe 10,000, maybe 5,000, or maybe even 2,000. Even in HQ no one knows for sure.”
Dr Galeotti commented that the “highly critical” leaks “certainly speak to deep misgivings within the middle-rankers”, despite their uncertain provenance.