Putin humiliated with ‘deep fractures’ in Russia’s military: British spy chief

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 26, 2023.
Valery Sharifulin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 26, 2023.

Richard Moore, the U.K.’s chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, said in a rare speech Wednesday that last month’s uprising by Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin exposed “deep fractures” among Russia’s elite and that the deal to end the mutiny was “humiliating” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Speaking at a Politico event hosted by the British Embassy in Prague, Moore said Putin was “under pressure” now at home after the uprising showed something “deeply rotten” in the country. He said he suspected many Russians “are silently appalled.”

“He is clearly under pressure,” Moore said of Putin. “You don’t have a group of mercenaries advance up the motorway toward Rostov and get to within 125 kilometers of Moscow unless you have not quite predicted that was going to happen.”

Prigozhin led a brief rebellion last month after months of criticism of Russia’s military leadership and the approach to the war in Ukraine. He also had publicly challenged the premise of Putin’s invasion in Ukraine. 

He led his troops toward Moscow, but then agreed to stand down after an agreement was struck for him to go to Belarus and for charges to be dropped. 

“I don’t think it needs all the resources of MI6 to conclude that there are deep fractures within the Russian elite around Putin. If you have an invading army coming up the road at you, that indicates there has been a falling out,” Moore said, adding, “The extraordinary thing was to see the way that Putin handled that, and the weakness that that demonstrated.”

Moore issued an invitation to Russians to spy on the Kremlin for the U.K., which he said many others have done since the war began. He promised discretion as they “work to bring the bloodshed to an end.”

“As they witnessed the venality infighting and sheer callous incompetence of their leaders, the human factor at its worst, many Russians are wrestling with the same dilemmas and the same tugs of conscience as their predecessors did in 1968,” Moore said.

“I invite them to do what others have already done this past 18 months. And join hands with us. Our door is always open. We will handle their offers of help with the discretion and professionalism for which my service is famed. Their secrets will always be safe with us. And together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end,” he added.

Tags Russia-Ukraine war Vladimir Putin Yevgeny Prigozhin

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