The Kremlin responded on Thursday to the prior day's White House and Pentagon statements claiming that Vladimir Putin is being purposely confused and "misled" as to the poor state of Russian operations inside Ukraine, due to being fed 'misinformation' by his top generals and advisers.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a press briefing rejected the US assessment as not based on "real information". He said, "It turns out that neither the State Department nor the Pentagon have real information about what is happening in the Kremlin," The New York Times reported.
"They do not understand President Putin, they do not understand the decision-making mechanism and they do not understand the efforts of our work," he was quoted as saying.
He further expressed alarm over this "complete misunderstanding" presented by the US administration.
On Wednesday White House communications director Kate Bedingfield cited what was referenced as 'declassified intelligence' to say the following:
“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."
Multiple mainstream media reports led by CNN also cited admin officials who alleged the Russian advisers were "afraid" to bring Putin bad news, and said the Russian leader didn't even have accurate information as to the extent of the impact of Western sanctions on the economy.
All of it was to paint a picture of there being a serious "rift" within Putin's administration, a narriative which some journalists were quick to question - given it seemed a mere White House attempt to embarrass Putin as part of the ongoing info war...
WH Comms. Director Kate Bedingfield asked about releasing the report on Putin’s tension with advisers:— The Recount (@therecount) March 30, 2022
Reporter: “I’m wondering if this is partially just an effort to embarrass Vladimir Putin?”
Bedingfield: “Our aim is to show that this has been a strategic blunder.” pic.twitter.com/u0sCnsqYbE
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby had later in the day Wednesday backed the White House assessment, claiming that Putin had "not been fully informed by his Ministry of Defense at every turn".
This also comes amid reports that there's pressure within the Russian government for Sergei Shoigu to either be fired or step down. Kremlin's Thursday rejection of the whole narrative appears intended to address the entirety of the Western reports which flooded headlines the day prior.
Do you really think Putin could be misinformed about “how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions”? Not something that’s easy to hide (and it’s in fact not happening yet — the ruble hasn’t crumbled). This is US intel misinforming the US public via media stenographers. https://t.co/emNhdy3InQ— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) March 30, 2022
Given that some of these reports - including claims of an internal Kremlin "rift" - may be originating via Ukrainian sources as well as Western media reporting, they should all be treated with a high degree of skepticism.