Russian soldiers accidentally shot down their own aircraft," according to the head of Britain's GCHQ spy agency.
In prepared remarks set to be delivered on Thursday, the UK's Government Communications Headquarters' director Sir Jeremy Fleming said Vladimir Putin's advisers are "afraid to tell him the truth" about the war in Ukraine and that the Russian president made a "strategic miscalculation" in his decision to invade.
Russian Troops Refusing to Carry Out Orders, Sabotaging Their Own Equipment
"We've seen Russian soldiers â short of weapons and morale â refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft," the spy chief will say in a rare public address during a visit to Australia.
"And even though we believe Putin's advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what's going on and the extent of these misjudgements must be crystal clear to the regime."
"It all adds up to the strategic miscalculation that western leaders warned Putin it would be. It's become his personal war, with the cost being paid by innocent people in Ukraine and, increasingly, by ordinary Russians too."
Putin's Advisors Scared to Tell Him How Badly They're Doing in Ukraine War
No evidence has been provided for the claim Russian troops shot down their own aircraft. On Wednesday, US officials also said Mr Putin is being misled by advisers who were too scared to tell him how badly the war in Ukraine is going and how damaging western sanctions have been.
"We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership," White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told reporters during a press briefing.
"We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth," she said.
There have also been reports that a Russian battalion ran over their commander with a tank due to the heavy losses they had suffered, as previously reported.
"The great irony is, of course, that through his actions, Putin has brought upon himself exactly what he was trying to avoid â a Ukraine with a renewed sense of nationhood, a NATO that is more united than ever, and a global coalition of nations that condemn his actions," per Fleming's speech.
Late last week, the UN said that at least 1,119 civilians had been killed in Russia's war on Ukraine. NATO has estimated that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops have died during the course of the war, while Russia has claimed that 1,351 of its soldiers have been killed. In his last update on troop deaths on March 12, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said that 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had died in the war.
Russian forces bombarded areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv just hours after pledging to scale back operations in those zones to promote trust between the two sides, Ukrainian authorities said.