Russian people turning on Vladimir Putin and his war, UK spy chief says

Demonstrators protest against Russian strikes on Ukraine during a rally organised by Ukrainian refugees and activists, in Tbilisi - Vano Shlamov/AFP via Getty Images
Demonstrators protest against Russian strikes on Ukraine during a rally organised by Ukrainian refugees and activists, in Tbilisi – Vano Shlamov/AFP via Getty Images

The Russian people are losing faith in Vladimir Putin’s “war of choice”, the head of GCHQ has said.

It is becoming clear to the Russian people quite how badly Putin has “misjudged the situation,” according to Sir Jeremy Fleming.

The Director of GCHQ, Britain’s cyber security agency, will use a speech in London on Tuesday to highlight the ongoing threats from Russia and China.

He will say Russian forces are now in a “desperate situation” as they seek to prosecute the disastrous war in Ukraine.

Sir Jeremy will say: “Far from the inevitable Russian military victory that their propaganda machine spouted, it’s clear that Ukraine’s courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide.

“Having failed in two major military strategies already, Putin’s plan has hit the courageous reality of Ukrainian defence.

“With little effective internal challenge, his decision-making has proved flawed. It’s a high-stakes strategy that is leading to strategic errors in judgement.”

‘Their gains are being reversed’

In the annual security lecture for the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank, Sir Jeremy will hint that the intelligence agency he leads has a good idea of how poorly equipped Putin’s troops are in Ukraine.

“Their gains are being reversed,” he will say. “The costs to Russia – in people and equipment are staggering.

“We know – and Russian commanders on the ground know – that their supplies and munitions are running out.

“Russia’s forces are exhausted. The use of prisoners to reinforce, and now the mobilisation of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts, speaks of a desperate situation.”

The Russian population “has started to understand that too,” he will say.

“They’re seeing just how badly Putin has misjudged the situation. They’re fleeing the draft, realising they can no longer travel.

“They know their access to modern technologies and external influences will be drastically restricted. And they are feeling the extent of the dreadful human cost of his war of choice.”

Ukrainian officials believe more than 61,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war since Feb 24, although Western officials cite a lower figure.

Sir Jeremy will also highlight the dangers posed by the Chinese leadership, warning that Beijing is using its financial and scientific muscle to manipulate strategically important technologies which shape the global tech ecosystem.

While the UK and its allies seek science and tech advancement, such as in quantum computing and artificial intelligence, to enable prosperity, the GCHQ head will say China uses such development as a “tool to gain advantage through control of their markets, of those in their sphere of influence and of their own citizens”.

He will highlight the paradox that China’s “great strength combined with fear is driving China into actions that could represent a huge threat to us all”.

Warning of the immediacy of the threat, he will say now is a moment that “will define our future,” urging the science and tech community in like-minded countries to work together.

“The Chinese leadership believes it draws its strength, its authority, from the closed, one-party system. They seek to secure their advantage through scale and through control.

“They see nations as either potential adversaries or potential client states, to be threatened, bribed or coerced.

“The party has bet their future on this approach, shutting off the many alternative futures for the Chinese people in the process. They hope that future success, based on this system, will be inevitable.

“But underlying that belief is a sense of fear. Fear of its own citizens, of freedom of speech, free trade, open technological standards and alliances – the whole open, democratic order and the international rules-based system.

“It is no surprise that while the Chinese nation has worked to build its advanced economy, the Party has used its resources to implement draconian national security laws, a surveillance culture and the increasingly aggressive use of military might.

“We’re seeing that fear play out through the manipulation of the technological ecosystems which underpin our everyday lives – from monitoring its own citizens and restricting free speech to influencing financial systems and new domains.”

Published by anthonyhayble

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