Russian state TV exposes Putin in 'damning assessment'
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Putin famously served in the KGB, the security agency of the Soviet Union, in his early life, spending some time in Dresden, East Germany, reportedly undercover as a translator. He is also known to be a history buff, covering, in part, the military history of his country.
But an author and journalist has brought Putin’s military credentials into doubt, insisting they are not as grandiose as they might seem.
An article in the Times today argues his dictating of troop movements amounts to “meddling” and highlight the President’s claim he commanded an artillery battalion during the Soviet era.
Mark Galeotti suggested the training received by Putin was not that dissimilar to that of “every young man at a Soviet university” and that, if he had been truly invested, his military pursuits could have gone much further.
He wrote in a thread on Twitter that while many of his age “received draft deferment at the price of having to do reserve officer training” during their studies, this could “largely be coasted through”, unless a participant was particularly keen.
The commitment, Mr Galeotti stressed, was certainly far lower than that required for the UK’s Army Officer Scholarship Scheme.
In a telling indication of just how keen Putin was to advance in this field, the writer said: “It is worth noting that once he joined the KGB on graduating, he could have continued to do his regular reserve refresher training.
“Instead, he opted to take advantage of the exemption granted KGB officers and ditch it at first opportunity.
“So while he would have graduated as a reserve lieutenant, the odds that he would – even on paper – have commanded a full three battery battalion seem pretty slim.”
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Mr Galeotti concluded that Putin may be a “military fanboy”, but was not invested “to the degree of actually giving up his free time to stay current”.
This raises significant questions over the Kremlin leader’s ability to lead war efforts in Ukraine.
Numerous well-placed reports have pointed to the idea that, despite appearing to have received only minimal military training, Putin is calling most of the shots and giving orders to well-trained, professional soldiers.
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The issue goes further than Putin, with Mr Galeotti noting that “none of his inner circle” have any military experience beyond the essential.
He added that initial failings in Russia’s “special military operation” highlight the dangers of allowing “amateurs [to] play general”.
Though even if the experience of those around Putin were greater than it is, it would not necessarily follow that their leader would listen to and follow all advise.
Some Kremlin officials told Bloomberg they do not dare to relay their genuine position on the war to Putin because they see “no chance” that he will change course.
They, speaking on the condition of anonymity, added they were “too fearful of retribution” for their comments.
It is, perhaps, impossible to ascertain Putin’s exact – or even general – plans in the ongoing Russo-Ukraine war, though most accounts suggest that, whatever the specifics, his forces are not performing as well as he will have hoped.
On the basis of the leader’s lowly military experience, and the resilience of Ukrainian fighters, Mr Galeotti branded him “beat”.
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