Is Russia’s war effort running out of steam?

Great Britain’s spy chief — the head of the storied MI6 — rarely speaks about matters of intelligence in public.

So it was interesting when he spoke up at the Aspen Security Forum about the Ukraine-Russia war and his thinking that the Russians will run out of steam soon:

“They will have to pause in some way,” Richard Moore, the chief of MI6, said in remarks at the Aspen Security Forum — rare public remarks by the serving head of British intelligence. Russian forces had likely lost around 15,000 troops, he said, calling the number a “conservative estimate.” That’s roughly the number of casualties Russia’s military suffered over the course of 10 years during its war in Afghanistan, Moore noted.

A pause by Russian forces would “give the Ukrainians the opportunity to strike back,” Moore said Thursday. He said that the morale of Ukrainian forces remains high and the military is receiving powerful weapons from the West. Moore urged the flow of weapons to continue so that Ukraine could either prevail in the war or be in a stronger position to negotiate with Russia.

He also praised the level of Western solidarity since the Russian invasion. “NATO has been proved extraordinarily united in the face of this,” said Moore, noting that Sweden had abandoned 200 years of military nonalignment to seek membership of the alliance, along with Finland.

Moore described Russia’s invasion as an “epic fail” that hadn’t accounted for the stiff resistance the invading forces would face. “They clearly completely misunderstood Ukrainian nationalism. They completely underrated the degree of resistance the Russian military would face.”

Russian officials also didn’t accurately convey to President Vladimir Putin the challenges of the invasion and the costs to Russia, Moore said. In Putin’s government “it doesn’t pay to speak truth to power.”

In the lead-up to the invasion and in the months that have followed, there has been widespread speculation that Putin is sick, possibly with cancer, and he has been portrayed as more eccentric and irrational. However, Moore dismissed rumors that the Russian president is ill, saying “there is no evidence that Putin is suffering from serious ill health.”

His comments echoed CIA Director William J. Burns, who quipped earlier this week that “as far as we can tell, he’s entirely too healthy.”

I forget who it was that said that “intelligence” is often just guessing informed by somewhat more information than the average person reading the news has. Still, it would be nice if it were true.

You can read the rest of the Washington Post article (by Shane Harris and Julian Duplain) at this link.

Leave a Reply