Another Russian general has died, and other senior army officers have either been killed or wounded in fighting in Ukraine this week — only adding to what Kremlin officials are reportedly calling a complete “clusterf–k.’’
The blows to the Russian army’s top echelon occurred even before Russian government officials were already calling Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “a clusterf–k,” a report said.
A week ago, Russian journalist Farida Rustamova wrote on Substack that a high-level source told her Kremlin insiders believed the war on Ukraine has been a complete disaster.
“They’re carefully enunciating the word clusterf–k,’’ she wrote, according to a translation.
Another source told her, “No one is rejoicing. Many understand that this is a mistake, but in the course of doing their duty, they come up with explanations in order to somehow come to terms with it.”
Rustamova, a former BBC and TV Rain journalist, published the report March 1, less than a week after the invasion began.
She reported that only a small circle close to Putin knew of the imminent invasion, with many assuming the military build-up on Ukraine’s border was a negotiating tactic with the West.
Her reporting also cast doubt on the Russian president’s state of mind.
“He is in a state of being offended and insulted,” said a source described as a “good acquaintance” of Putin. “It’s paranoia that has reached the point of absurdity.
“Putin now seriously believes what [Defense Minister Sergie] Shoigu and Gerasimov are telling him: about how quickly they’ll take Kyiv, that the Ukrainians are blowing themselves up, that Zelensky is a coke addict.”
An unnamed Western official had told Sky News that it seems Russian army higher-ups are being killed “because they’ve had to go further and closer to the front.”
“That’s an indication of some degree of frustration and some degree of lack of progress, and they’re trying to impose their sort of personality on the battlefield and putting themselves at personal risk,” the source said.
Rustamova reported that “the attitude toward the war within the corridors of power is ambiguous.
“Many of them are discouraged, frightened, and are making apocalyptic forecasts,” she said, adding that the head of a big Kremlin-backed bank Andrei Kostin is “in mourning” and some members of the Russian assembly are discussing resigning from their seats.
“Did anyone expect Putin to decide to go to war? Everyone assures me they didn’t,” she wrote. “They thought that the president was escalating the situation in order to have more trump cards in negotiations.”