Deputy Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, Vadym Skibitsky, said in an interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a ‘Top Target’ for his department, Ria reported.
“Our priority is to destroy the commander of the unit, who ordered his men to attack Ukraine,” Skibitsky said. When asked who is at the head of this list, Skibtsky named the Russian President. He said, “Putin, because he coordinates and decides what happens.”
Skibitsky also threatened to destroy the port of Mariupol, calling it one of the critical logistics points.
Earlier, Moscow blamed Kyiv for attacking the Kremlin, the residence of President Vladimir Putin. Moscow said: ‘The Kyiv regime attempted to strike the Kremlin residence of the President of the Russian Federation with UAVs.’
Two unmanned aerial vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin. As a result of timely actions taken by the military and special services with the use of radar warfare systems, the vehicles were put out of action. As a result of their fall and the scattering of fragments on the territory of the Kremlin, there were no victims or material damage.
We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the President, carried out on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9th Parade, at which the presence of foreign guests is also planned.
Meanwhile, the US now believes that Ukraine’s security services were likely behind the drone attack on the Kremlin. It is unknown if President Zelensky knew about the attacks.
The US reached this assessment based on intercepted communications where Ukrainian officials said that they thought it was their own country behind the attack. The same US officials, according to the New York Times, said that their confidence that the Ukrainian government authorized the attack was “low.”
Putin’s Grip Over Russia Is Not Going To ‘Crack’
The West has been hoping that Putin’s hold over Russia will crumble following the discontent among the residents owing to the long-drawn war against Ukraine.
Germany’s spy chief insists that the dispute in Russian society does not threaten Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government. He also added that Moscow had no shortage of recruits and equipment to continue its invasion of the East European country.
Bruno Kahl, head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service – the German Intelligence Agency (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND), said he doesn’t see the strength of Putin’s rule ebbing anytime soon.
“We see no cracks in the Putin system,” Kahl said at the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS). He contended that not much should be read into the public criticism of the management of the war as it is routine in Russian society and does not pose any significant threat to the Putin regime. The Western publications have been replete with news like complaints of Russian soldiers and relatives about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, appearing on several large electronic billboards in Russian cities.
The West has been saying that Putin’s failure to achieve the initial military goals in Ukraine and the continuing aimless military expedition was bound to dampen the initial bellicose enthusiasm among the population. At least, that is what Russia hoped for. The phrase about Putin “miscalculating” his own people’s appetite for war has been used extensively in the media.
When Putin introduced mass conscription in September 2022, the news of people fleeing the draft and the demoralization of troops owing to an alleged lack of equipment, training, or purpose was circulated widely in the media.
While it is hard to assess the public mood in a quasi-totalitarian regime, a leaked private poll conducted for a Russian state security agency showed plummeting support for Putin’s military endeavors. It indicated increasing difficulties for the Kremlin in the days to come.
The German Chief of Intelligence, however, said that the largest country in the world had enough equipment and ammunition to prolong the war. “Russia is still capable of waging a long-range war,” Kahl said while pointing at the newly recruited soldiers.
At the beginning of the invasion, Ukrainian analysts estimated that the Russians had some 525,000 rounds stockpiled. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) estimated the stockpile to be around 16 million rounds.
But throughout the war, there has been a sharp reduction in the number of shells fired. Analysts say it is indicative of stock depletion.
The vulnerability of Russia is the performance of its armed forces. Putin’s endeavor can succeed if the West does not support Ukraine in a very organized way.
Since the beginning of the war, Germany has provided aid worth US$5.5 billion to Ukraine, including tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and artillery ammunition.
Germany has been slow to provide military aid to Ukraine, but since the war, it has emerged as one of the biggest arms suppliers to Ukraine.
The crucial supply has been that of Main Battle Tanks like Leopard 1 and 2. Germany’s defense minister Boris Pistorius has said that the latest arms package of US$2.7 billion indicates “that Germany is serious in its support” for Ukraine.
“Germany will provide all the help it can, as long as it takes,” he added.
The German intelligence agency has also been under fire for being unable to read the signs of the imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, even when other Western countries were warning that Moscow was preparing to invade the European country.
German Intelligence’s Recruitment Woes
The German Intelligence Chief also has a peculiar problem on his hands. Since the pandemic changed how the world works, the German agency is finding it difficult to recruit staff as most want to work from home and would rather not be away from their cell phones.
“We cannot offer certain conditions that are taken for granted today,” said Bruno Kahl, who described finding enough and the right staff as a significant challenge.
“Remote work is barely possible at the BND for security reasons, and not being able to take your cell phone to work is asking much from young people looking for a job,” he added.
Presently, the BND has some 6,500 people working for it.
- Ritu Sharma has written on defense and foreign affairs for over a decade. She holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Studies and Management of Peace from the University of Erfurt, Germany. Her areas of interest include Asia-Pacific, the South China Sea, and Aviation history.
- She can be reached at ritu.sharma (at) mail.com