A senior Russian military intelligence officer has been detained in a Moscow maximum security prison, with President Vladimir Putin apparently blaming him for massive failures in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The U.K.’s Telegraph reported the shakeup in Russia’s authoritarian government on Tuesday.
Col. Gen. Sergei Beseda, of the Russian security service known by the initials FSB, has been incarcerated in Lefortovo Prison, a Tsarist-era facility that was active in the Soviet years and is still used today to detain suspected traitors and national security threats.
The Telegraph cited Russian journalist Andrei Soldatov, who reported Monday that Beseda had originally been placed on house arrest before his transfer to Lefortovo.
“It’s a tradition of sorts. If you screw up, you need to look for traitors to blame it on. So they started looking for spies,” Soldatov told the Telegraph.
The executive director of Bellingcat, an investigative journalism organization, also indicated that Beseda was dismissed because of Russia’s Ukraine failures.
Beseda was jailed for “reporting false information to the Kremlin about the real situation in Ukraine before the invasion,” said Bellingcat’s Christo Grozev, according to The U.S. Sun.
Beseda is the head of the foreign intelligence unit for the FSB, Russia’s equivalent of the American FBI, the Telegraph reported.
The intelligence official had visited Ukraine shortly before his arrest.
Putin believed that Russian troops would be greeted as liberators by pro-Russian Ukrainians in the “special military operation,” Russia analyst Alexey Muraviev told the Sun.
Instead, attempts to capture the capital of Kyiv ended in total failure, an objective Russia expected to achieve in three days.
A network of pro-Russian Ukrainian officials and military officers didn’t materialize in the aftermath of the invasion, suggesting Putin was misled about the FSB’s influence in the country.
Russia has scaled back its military operations in Ukraine to the south and the east of the country,
Russia also suspects that invasion plans were leaked to the west in the advance of the war.
“In the weeks preceding the invasion, US media repeatedly quoted intelligence sources that seemed to have a unique insight into the Kremlin’s preparations for the upcoming war against Ukraine,” the Telegraph reported.
Those apparent leaks were “definitely unpleasant” for the FSB, Soldatov told the Telegraph.
Grozev told the newspaper that 150 FSB agents in Beseda’s unit have been fired or arrested.
Putin was seen browbeating a senior FSB official in a public appearance days before the operation.
Military leaks suggest a picture of dysfunction and disarray in Russia’s invasion, with troops speaking openly of deception on the part of their commanders and unclear mission objectives.
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