British spy chief says Russian military 'exhausted' in Ukraine

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TBILISI, Georgia — The United Kingdom’s top spy chief said Russia is in a “desperate situation,” as its military forces are “exhausted” by an attempted invasion of Ukraine that has now dragged into its eighth month.

“The costs to Russia, in people and equipment, are staggering,” said Jeremy Fleming, the top British intelligence official, who spoke Tuesday at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a London think tank. “We know, and Russian commanders on the ground know, that their supplies and munitions are running out.”

A person stands on top of a destroyed tank near the side of a road.
A person inspects a destroyed Russian tank near the village of Oskol, in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)

During his lecture, Fleming claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to mobilize hundreds of thousands of additional young men for the war, as well as the use of prisoners on the front lines, "speaks of a desperate situation." The so-called partial mobilization triggered widespread protests and a mass exodus of civilians fleeing across borders from Finland to Georgia and Mongolia.

Fleming, the director of the Government Communications Headquarters, said the Russian population now realizes how Putin has “misjudged” the war, and they are “feeling the extent of the dreadful human cost of his war of choice.”

He told RUSI that due to Kyiv’s “courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace,” the country had turned the tide against the Kremlin’s brutal forces.

Speaking to BBC’s Radio 4 show earlier in the day, the intelligence chief warned that Putin’s army was still “very capable” of causing damage. His remarks came after the Russian military launched several missile strikes in major cities across Ukraine, hitting mostly civilian targets. Officials have claimed that at least 19 people were killed in the strikes — the biggest air raid since the invasion began in February.

Jeremy Fleming.
Jeremy Fleming, director of Government Communications Headquarters, the United Kingdom's intelligence, security and cyber agency. (Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

According to CNN, at least four explosions were heard in Kyiv on Monday morning during rush hour. Kyiv officials condemned the attacks, mainly targeted at civilian infrastructure — including a children’s playground and tourist attractions.

The attacks came days after the Kerch Strait Bridge in the annexed region of Crimea was partially blown up. The damage to the bridge, which is both symbolically and strategically important to Russia, was a major hit to Putin, who later blamed Ukraine for the explosion, which he denounced as “terrorism.”