• The Biden administration believes that divulging the finding could prod Putin to reconsider his options amid the war
  • A U.S. official says Putin might be unaware that conscripts are fighting in the war
  • It is estimated that between 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers have died in the conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be getting misinformation about the struggles of his troops in Ukraine amid the war, according to U.S. intelligence.

A newly declassified intelligence indicated that members of Putin’s inner circle, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, are misleading their president about the poor performance of the Russian military in Ukraine and the situation of the country’s economy, which has been hit by a range of sanctions from the West.

“His senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said during a news conference Wednesday. “It is increasingly clear that Putin’s war has been a strategic blunder that has left Russia weaker over the long-term and increasingly isolated on the world stage,” she said of the intelligence finding.

The Biden administration believes that divulging the finding could be the key to prod Putin to reconsider his options amid the invasion in Ukraine, a U.S. official was cited as saying by Associated Press.

The official added that the intelligence suggested that Putin is unaware that conscripts were being sent to the war in Ukraine and that soldiers who were drafted were among those killed in the conflict. Additionally, Putin may have had a poor understanding of the potential effects of Western sanctions on his country’s economy.

The intelligence comes as Russian forces continue to perform poorly in the war. As of March 24, NATO officials estimated that up to 15,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the attack began on Feb. 24. The officials noted that the estimates were only based on the information they received from Ukrainian authorities and open sources.

Russian officials have denied publicly disclosing their losses. However, a pro-government tabloid in Russia, Komsomolskaya Pravda, on March 22 accidentally published a piece stating that 9,861 Russian troops died in the war and another 16,153 were left injured. The tabloid cited Russia’s Ministry of Defense as its source.

The figures were later taken down from the report. The tabloid also issued a statement claiming they had been hacked.

Ukrainian authorities have also released very little information about the number of losses the country has suffered in the conflict. However, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that as per their estimate, 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the war.

Putin put his country's nuclear forces on alert in late February
Putin put his country's nuclear forces on alert in late February AFP / STRINGER