- Putin continues to be isolated and has no plan for the war in Ukraine, The Washington Post reported.
- Putin’s inner circle is getting increasingly frustrated with him, sources told The Post.
- Much of Russia’s elite are losing faith with Putin and fear there is no way out, the sources said.
Vladimir Putin’s inner circle is frustrated because they feel that the Russian president is unsure of what to do next with the war in Ukraine, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Several sources told The Post they believe that Putin does not have a plan for how to continue the full-scale invasion, which was launched just over 10 months ago.
“There is huge frustration among the people around him,” an unnamed Russian billionaire, who is in contact with top-ranking officials in the Kremlin, told The Post. “He clearly doesn’t know what to do.”
As Russia continues to struggle in Ukraine, Putin has retreated from the public eye. He recently canceled his annual State of the Nation address, usually held on New Year’s Eve.
The address typically involves a speech to Russia’s Federal Assembly, followed by an hours-long press conference with hundreds of journalists from across the country.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) cited the lack of a positive agenda as one of the reasons for the cancellation of the address, though Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov hinted that it will likely be held early in the new year instead.
Sources told The Post that Putin postponing the address was another sign that he has no plan for the war in Ukraine.
“In the address, there should be a plan. But there is no plan. I think they just don’t know what to say,” the billionaire said, according to The Post.
He added that Putin is increasingly isolated: “He doesn’t like speaking with people anyway. He has a very narrow circle, and now it has gotten narrower still.”
Tatyana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Post that many in Russia’s elite are starting to lose faith in their leader because he is “incapable of giving answers to questions.”
“The elite does not know what to believe, and they fear to think about tomorrow,” Stanovaya told The Post. “To a large degree, there is the feeling that there is no way out, that the situation is irreparable, that they are totally dependent on one person.”
One Russian official, who was not named, told The Post: “How can [Putin] tell us everything is going to plan, when we are already in the 10th month of the war, and we were told it was only going to take a few days.”
The official added that Putin’s only tactic right now appears to be urging the West and Ukraine to begin peace talks, something which he did most recently on Christmas Day.
“But,” the official told The Post, Putin is willing to talk “only on his terms.”
Russia’s army has struggled since its invasion of Ukraine, with widespread reports and intelligence updates highlighting poor training and low morale among its troops.
Despite this, former Western diplomats and government officials told Reuters as recently as October that Putin’s grip on power has remained firm.