AUSTIN, Texas - U.S. intelligence officials say they believe Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his own advisers on how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by international sanctions.
MIKE: U.S. intelligence officials say that they believe Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his own advisers on how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by international sanctions. Joining us now for some insight is Jody Ferguson, author, and former senior adviser at the Pentagon. Thanks for joining us.
JODY: My pleasure.
MIKE: You know, the US officials say that Putin is not being given accurate information because his advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth. What's your take on that?
JODY: My take is that it's really difficult to know for sure what's going on inside Russia, I know that U.S. intel is probably based on really strong information. However, it's really difficult to say for sure what Putin is being told and what he's not being told.
MIKE: You know US...
JODY: However, we do know a few things for a fact. For one, Putin has isolated himself, and it's been that way for months. We know that he's only made one public appearance in Moscow which was at the stadium rally behind a wall of bulletproof glass. And we've been hearing reports that he has been holed up in a facility secure facility in the Euro Mountain region. So whether or not he's getting all the information that he should be getting as a leader of a country at war, we can't say for sure whether that's that's actually the case. But we do know for a fact that he has been isolated, so there's a very high possibility that he's not getting the type of information he should be getting.
MIKE: With that in mind, how does that influence US foreign policy towards Russia right now?
JODY: It influences it in the sense that we need to continue applying the pressure diplomatically, economically and to the extent possible militarily to make sure that he understands what he's going up against because all of the information can't be kept from him. So what we need to do is continue our concerted joint campaign with Europe and our other allies and partners around the world and continue on the path we've been doing up to now.
MIKE: Now the Russian military is saying that their main objective is now Donbass. Do you believe they were forced to change that story because of how poorly they have done in the field?
JODY: Again, I would caution trying to rely on on any information what's going on right now on the battlefield. It's the old maxim the fog of war is really proven to be the case here in Ukraine, which is ironic given the fact that it's the most covert war we've seen in a generation, for sure. However, I do think that the Russians, certainly what we do know for a fact is they've been meeting setbacks across the battlefield, in the south and in the north and in the east, and that this effort to move and perhaps concentrate on the Donbas perhaps could be a sign that things are not going well. We've also received information about a battle that took place earlier this month in the East and between the cities of Harki and Sumie in the Northeast, and which supposedly, according to sources that were verified by the British and the French. The Lot in fourth tank, the fourth guard tank division and historically a very famous division in the Russian Army, met with a stinging defeat on the battlefield to a mechanized brigade from the Ukrainian army. And the fact that that happened several weeks ago and we haven't heard a lot about it is left people scratching their heads. But we just also received information recently that the head of that army in which that fourth division was a part of has been relieved of his duties. So that kind of connects the dots and makes us understand that the Russians have been meeting serious setbacks on the battlefield.
MIKE: From what you are able to observe, prognosticate for us a little bit what what are you looking for in the coming weeks and months for this whole situation?
JODY: Well, I hate to predict anything, it's hard to say again, I will reiterate the fog of war has been so prevalent in this war. What we are looking for in the next few days and then in the week ahead is what's going on in Turkey and Istanbul. Can these negotiations result in anything? My sense is no. I think that both sides feel they still have gains to be made on the battlefield before they want to sit down and hash out some sort of peace deal. And the fact that no cease fire has been called in spite of these negotiations leads me to believe that neither side is really going into it with 100 percent confidence. Beyond that, what would we be looking at would be the extent to which Naito and the United States become more deeply involved. Will we provide them with MiGs, where we provide the Ukrainians with high altitude air defense, something they're lacking right now? We've been good on providing them with tactical battlefield weapons, but are we going to step up and provide them with longer, a longer range and larger and more qualitative weapons systems?
MIKE: OK, so many unknowns facing everybody. We're out of time. But Jody Ferguson, as always, we appreciate your time and your expertize. Thank you.
JODY: My pleasure. You're welcome.
Russia shells areas in Ukraine where it vowed to scale back operations
Russia says it will scale back near Kyiv as talks with Ukraine progress
Zelenskyy hints at openness to compromise with Russia on eastern Ukraine