WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to have been "misinformed" by his advisers about the poor performance of his country's troops in the war in Ukraine and the crippling impact of the economic sanctions imposed by the West, a White House official said Wednesday.
"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 communications director, told a press conference.
"His senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth. So it is increasingly clear that 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 added.
"Obviously, we will continue to pursue our strategy of imposing severe costs on Russia and trying to strengthen Ukraine on the battlefield and at the negotiating table," Bedingfield said.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has continued for more than a month, meeting fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces. The Russian military was making its advances with the initial objective to capture Kyiv, but it has failed to do so, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
While Moscow has expressed its intention to curtail military assaults on Ukraine's capital to facilitate peace talks, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that while some troops were seen moving away from Kyiv, it was likely to "reposition."
"We've seen them begin to reposition less than 20 percent" of the forces arrayed around the capital and heading more toward the north, away from the city, over the last 24 hours, Kirby said.
"Our assessment would be...that they're going to refit these troops, resupply them, and then probably employ them elsewhere in Ukraine," he added.