Russia continues to hold positions near Kyiv; UK spy chief says Putin ‘massively misjudged’ war

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Putin has ‘massively misjudged’ the situation in Ukraine, UK intelligence chief says

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has misjudged the situation in Ukraine, but his advisors are scared of telling him the truth about what’s happening on the ground, the head of Britain’s intelligence agency has said.

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“It looks like Putin has massively misjudged the situation. It’s clear he misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people,” Jeremy Fleming, director of UK intelligence agency GCHQ, said in a speech in Australia on Thursday.

Referring to the conflict in Ukraine as Putin’s “personal war,” Fleming said the Russian leader had also underestimated the economic consequences of the sanctions regime as well as Russia’s military capabilities.

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“We’ve seen Russian soldiers — short of weapons and morale — refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” he said.

“And even though we believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what’s going on and the extent of these misjudgments must be crystal clear to the regime.”

, Chloe Taylor

Russia-Ukraine talks to continue on Friday

David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian official who has taken part in negotiations with Russia, said in a video message that Russia and Ukraine would resume their talks on April 1.

Speaking on Ukrainian television, Arakhamia said the Russian negotiation team does not have any leeway and must discuss minor details of the talks with the Kremlin. But he said while Ukraine’s team had been given red lines by President Zelenskyy that were not to be crossed — such as conceding territory — they had room for much more flexibility than their Russian counterparts.

, Chloe Taylor

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

You can read Wednesday’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine here:

US sends ‘kamikaze drones’ to Ukraine; Pentagon weighs permanently stationing more troops in Europe

Russia continues shelling, holds positions near Kyiv despite Moscow’s promises to scale back

“Significant” Russian shelling and missile strikes have continued on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, and Russian troops are still holding positions close to Kyiv, despite promises to the contrary from Moscow, the United Kingdom said Thursday.

“Russian forces continue to hold positions to the east and west of Kyiv despite the withdrawal of a limited number of units,” the UK Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence briefing,

Chernihiv is about 90 miles (145 km) north of Kyiv and 40 miles (64 km) south of the Russian border.

A Russian defense official said Wednesday that Moscow would “drastically” reduce military activity near Chernihiv and the capital of Kyiv, NBC News reported.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged caution about believing Moscow’s promises. The Russian Defense Ministry’s press office was not immediately available to provide comment to CNBC.

The British ministry said heavy fighting “will likely take place in the suburbs” of Kyiv in the coming days. Since last week, Ukrainian forces began to report retaking towns close to the capital.

The situation around the capital is fluid, and those Ukrainian claims are difficult or impossible to verify.

“You do see the Ukrainians trying to take advantage of opportunities and roll back the Russians where they can,” NBC News Global Security Reporter Dan De Luce said.

Heavy fighting continues in Mariupol in the south, but the UK Ministry said Ukrainian defenders are still holding the city center. Mariupol has been largely destroyed by Russian artillery and missiles.

— Ted Kemp


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