(a) So the “senior Western intelligence official” turns out to be Sir Jeremy Fleming KCMG,[*] the head of GCHQ (Government Communication Headquarters), the UK’s counterpart of the NSA. Before 1946, it was known as the GC&CS (Government Code and Cypher School) at Bletchley Park, where it earned its place in the history books as the agency responsible for decrypting Enigma, Lorenz, and other German cyphers.
Vladimir Putin’s advisers “are afraid to tell him the truth” about Russia’s rapidly faltering campaign in Ukraine, according to the head of GCHQ.
In his first public comments on the war, Sir Jeremy Fleming said Putin “overestimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory“, more than five weeks after the invasion began.
Sir Jeremy, the director of the UK’s intelligence, cyber and security agency, used a speech in Australia to reveal that demoralised and undisciplined Russian soldiers were refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment “and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft”.
Despite the lack of candour from Putin’s aides, Sir Jeremy said that “what’s going on, and the extent of these misjudgments, must be crystal clear to the regime”.
It comes as declassified US intelligence showed a growing divide between Putin and his top commanders after Moscow said it would cease its attempts to capture Kyiv.
US officials said Putin increasingly feels he has been misled by military top brass about the scale of losses on the ground and the use of conscripts to fight the war.
The intelligence said the Russian president “didn’t even know his military was using and losing conscripts … showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information”.
An official said: “We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military. There is now persistent tension between Putin and the ministry of defence, stemming from Putin’s mistrust in the ministry of defence leadership.”
Putin has already sacked eight generals and ordered a purge of intelligence personnel.
In the Jerusalem Post, some psychologist named John Mac Ghlion “diagnoses” Putin with something he calls “hubris syndrome”, which he apparently took from this article by Lord David Owen, a neurologist turned Labour politician turned “cross-bencher” [=Independent] member of the House of Lords.
Owen, D.; Davidson, J. Hubris Syndrome: An Acquired Personality Disorder A Study of US Presidents and UK Prime Ministers over the Last 100 Years. Brain 2009, 132 (5), 1396–1406. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awp008
I had a quick look at the paper, which looks a little half-baked: I’m not sure whether we need a new Cluster B personality disorder mixing traits from narcissistic, histrionic, and borderline disorder for what can be adequately explained by the effects of years of living in an epistemic echo chamber populated by “yes-men”. In fact, Owen’s article itself admits this to some degree. (The paper reeks a bit of an attempt to retroactively diagnose Bush fils, Tony Blair, and Margaret Thatcher, although Woodrow Wilson is likewise diagnosed and Ronald Reagan is found not to be a case.)
A bunch of sycophantic underlings trying to outdo each other in currying favor (or avoid being sent to the Gulag), knowing something to be their leader’s most devout wish even if he himself might not think it realistic in his lifetime, then convincing him that, “yes, you can do it!” and “only you can pull this off”. Hmm… where have we seen this before?
Relatedly, this little video from regional US channel NewsNation
(b) MEMRI, a media monitoring and translation service that is doing the L-rd’s work, highlights this recent interview of Russian political scientist Sergey Mikheev by Vladimir Solovyov, a TV host known to be a Putin mouthpiece. (He’s referred to in the article as Solviev [sic]: Soloviev is just a different romanization of Соловьёв).
Russian political scientist Sergey Mikheev said in a March 20, 2022 episode of “An Evening with Vladimir Solviev” that was aired on Russia-1 TV, that Russia will launch a nuclear strike in European territory if a NATO peacekeeping contingent is formed or deployed. He emphasized: “This would mean nuclear war. Yes!” He threatened that Warsaw would be instantly destroyed in such a scenario, and he suggested that Germany, Estonia, and the Baltic states may also be targeted.
In addition, Mikheev said that there have been “problems” with the Baltic states on the border with Russia’s Kaliningrad province, which is sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland, and that it may be necessary to create a land corridor to connect mainland Russia with Kaliningrad. He said: “Lithuania and Poland are behaving too brazenly. Too brazenly!” He then said that Lithuania and Poland could be “dealt with” much faster than Ukraine. This episode of the show was titled “The Road to a New World Order.” For more about the show’s host, Vladimir Solviev, see MEMRI TV Clip no. 9433.
Sergey Mikheev: “We need to convey a simple message to Europe: You will receive a nuclear strike in European territory if you form some sort of a NATO peacekeeping contingent, if you decide to deploy this contingent somewhere and so forth… This would mean nuclear war. Yes! Nuclear war.”
Vladimir Solviev: “This exact message was conveyed to French journalists…”
Mikheev: [Europe] must understand this. [I say] to the brave Poles: In half a second, there will be nothing left of your Warsaw. And the brave Germans, brave Estonians, brave people of the Balts… By the way, speaking about the Balts, as far as I know, there are big problems at the border in Kaliningrad. Maybe the question of a corridor to Kaliningrad becomes relevant?
“A corridor, a land corridor to Kaliningrad. Why not?”
Solviev: “If this was the case with Transnistria, then also in [Kaliningrad]…”
Mikheev: “It seems to me that the states called Lithuania and Poland are behaving too brazenly. Too brazenly! And they also don’t understand that they can actually be dealt with faster than Ukraine. Because the issue of the corridor is a local military operation, it’s much easier than everything we are doing in Ukraine.”
MEMRI built its career on the observation that Arab media in Arabic will say things that are clearly not meant for Western consumption. Likely, the same is true for Russian media.
The Kaliningrad “oblast” [=district, province] is the Russian exclave around the former East Prussian city of Königsberg. It’s pretty obvious to me that if [G-d forbid] Putin were to conquer Ukraine, it would not stop there.
At the same time, Ukraine must dearly regret having signed its own nukes away to Bill Clinton. [And yes, as much as it pains me to say anything positive about the Clinton cosa nostra family, Bill knew what he was doing — this is not hardware you want floating around on the black market.] This is a dear lesson for Israel, BTW — never give up what you officially don’t have, no matter what guarantees you get, since none can be guaranteed to be honored by “a new Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph”. Or your guarantors may not be able to honor their guarantees lest they end up in a nuclear confrontation…
(c) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty visits the town of Trostinets,[**] recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces.
TO BE UPDATED
UPDATE 1: The British-Swedish NLAW (next-generation LAW=light antitank weapon) personal antitank missile launcher seems to be one of the stars of this conflict, together with the US-made Javelin smart antitank missile and the Turkish-made Bayraktar drone. The Telegraph has more on the NLAW.
And first major convoy of buses heads to Mariupol to evacuate civilians.
The Ukrainian government is sending 45 buses to evacuate civilians from the besieged port of Mariupol, after the Russian defence ministry announced a ceasefire.
17 buses have already left for Mariupol from the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is around 220 kilometres (136 miles) to the northwest.
Another 28 are waiting for authorisation to pass the Russian checkpoint in Vasylivka, near Zaporizhzhia.
The International Committee of the Red Cross will lead the evacuation attempt, which is planned for tomorrow, and a spokesman for the humanitarian organisation said “tens of thousands” of lives depend on its success.
Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, said: “We will do everything possible to ensure that buses arrive in Mariupol today and pick up people who have not yet been able to get out of the city.”
Previous agreements on centralised evacuations from Mariupol have not been respected, meaning civilians have been left only with the extremely dangerous option of leaving the city in private vehicles.
You’ll need much more than 45 buses, but it’s a start — and if they can do shuttle runs…
And say it ain’t so…
UPDATE 2: Caspian Report on the small weapon systems that Ukraine uses against Russia:
And why is the media suddenly discovering Hunter Biden’s laptop — even CNN and the WaPo?
TL;DR: they are doing damage control ahead of a very probable grand jury indictment.
And speaking of “impeachment insurance”, Insty has the latest pearl of wisdom dribbling from the mouth of Kamala Harris:
ONE HEARTBEAT AWAY: Kamala Harris tosses word salad after meeting Jamaican prime minister. “For Jamaica, one of the issues that has been presented as an issue that is economic in the way its impact has been the pandemic … we will assist Jamaica in COVID recovery by assisting in terms of the recovery efforts in Jamaica that have been essential.”
I hope you got all that. There will be a quiz later.
G-ttenyu. And speaking of incoherence, the Singularity of Derp award of the week comes via MEMRI, who took one for the team and translated the mental bird droppings of a “Palestinian Islamic Scholar” who claims that
Palestinian Islamic scholar Mraweh Nassar, the Secretary-General of the Jerusalem Committee of the International Union of Muslims Scholars, said in a March 22, 2022 interview on the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Arabic-language Channel 9 (Turkey) that the war in Ukraine was instigated by the Jews in order to establish a Jewish state there to replace Israel. He explained that the Jews have been forsaken by America and the West, who have come to realize that the Zionist project is a failure that will come to an end within two years. He elaborated that the Israelis have thus realigned with Russia and China.
In addition, Nassar said that the Jews have been “convinced that Palestine cannot be the state for the Jews” and now claim that Ukraine is a Jewish state and that the Temple and biblical Jerusalem are, in fact, located there. Nassar also spoke about the “false Holocaust,” saying that there weren’t nearly as many Jews killed by the Germans as people claim. He also claimed that it was Jews who forsook the German Jews in WWII, much like they are forsaking Ukrainian Jews today.
Kamala Harris meets Sergei Lavrov and the together smoke weed dipped in paint thinner.
[*] To the best of my knowledge, he is unrelated to James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming. The postnominals KCMG stand for Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, a knighthood awarded “at the Monarch’s pleasure” for distinguished civilian service. It is the 4th most senior such order still in active use, after the Order of the Garter, its Scottish counterpart the Order of the Thistle, and the Most Honorable Order of the Bath. (The orders of St. Patrick and of the Star of India still technically are extant but have fallen into desuetude after independence of the Irish Republic and India, respectively.)
[**] Not to be confused with Maly [=”little”] Trostinets, a village outside Minsk in Belarus, which during WW II was the scene of mass shootings of over 100,000 Jews — a scale rivaling the much better-known Babi Yar outside Kyiv/Kiev.