Tensions growing between Putin and Russian military: White House

As the conflict rages on in Ukraine, and the battle now looks to be one of attrition, the United States claimed it has information that tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military are growing. “What I can say is, of course, we have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership,” White House Press Secretary Kate Bedingfield told reporters at her daily news conference. “We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth,” she said.

This comes even as Russian forces pounded areas around Kyiv and another Ukrainian city overnight, just hours after Moscow pledged to scale back military operations in those places. The shelling further tempered optimism about possible progress in talks aimed at ending the punishing war.

Russia did not spell out what exactly a reduction in activity would look like, and while the promise initially raised hopes that a path toward ending the bloody war of attrition was at hand, Ukraine’s president and others cautioned that the commitments could merely be bluster. Moscow, meanwhile, reacted coolly Wednesday to Kyiv’s proposed framework for a peace deal, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying it was a “positive factor” that Ukraine has submitted its written proposals but adding that he saw no breakthrough.

The British defence ministry said heavy losses have forced some Russian units to return to Belarus and Russia to regroup but that Moscow would likely compensate for any reduction in ground maneuvers by using mass artillery and missile barrages. And the Russian military reported a new series of missile strikes on Ukrainian arsenals and fuel depots over the past 24 hours.

As the war unleashed five weeks ago by Moscow ground on, so, too, did the fallout beyond Ukraine’s borders. The United Nations said the number of refugees fleeing the country has now surpassed a staggering 4 million, while European industrial powerhouse Germany issued a warning over its natural gas supplies amid concerns that Russia could cut off deliveries unless it is paid in rubles.

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