Vladimir Putin orders Russian forces to intensify search for ‘spies’
On Tuesday, an angry Vladimir Putin gave marching orders to Russia’s security forces to redouble their efforts to root out traitors and spies working to undermine his regime.
Speaking in a five minute video address to mark Security Services Day, a stern-faced Putin told officers they need to significantly improve their work in one of his clearest public admissions yet that the invasion of Ukraine, now in its 10th month, is not going good.
“Maximum composure, concentration of forces from counterintelligence agencies, including military intelligence, is now required,” Putin said. “It is necessary to crack down on the actions of foreign special services, quickly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs.”
In a rare break with the official line that the so-called “special military operation” is going as planned, Putin admitted that the situation was “difficult” in the four regions of Ukraine that were illegally annexed by Russia after phony referendums.
“The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions is extremely difficult,” he said.
A KGB veteran, Putin praised the security agents deployed in the annexed regions, saying that “the people who live there, the Russian citizens, count on their protection.”
“Your duty is to do everything necessary to ensure your safety and the protection of your rights and freedoms,” added the Kremlin strongman.
Putin’s speech was reportedly poorly received by members of Russia’s security services, according to a post to Yellow Folder Telegram channelwhich is said to be run by former Russian spies.
“The congratulatory message was interpreted as a rebuke directed at security agencies for their insufficient effective work,” the publication alleges.
“The leaders of the FSB, FSO (Federal Protection Service) and the Security Council did not like Putin’s ‘congratulations’,” added the anonymous author. “Virtually everyone believes that they are already working with full devotion and gets reprimanded in return, so sabotage is not far off.”
Putin later held a ceremony in the Kremlin to present awards to the heads of the four annexed regions of Ukraine appointed by Moscow.
“Our country has often faced challenges and defended its sovereignty,” Putin said. “Now Russia is facing that challenge again. Soldiers, officers and volunteers are showing outstanding examples of courage and self-sacrifice on the front lines.”
As Putin complained about the “extremely difficult” situation in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered the message by visiting the city of Bakhmut, a hotly contested frontline town that Russia has long tried and failed to capture.
The Ukrainian leader appeared in a video handing out medals to soldiers who have spent the past few weeks repelling Russian attacks in some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
The city, located about 380 miles east of Kyiv, has remained in Ukrainian hands, thwarting Moscow’s goal of capturing the entire Donbas region of Ukraine.
The ground invasion of Russia, which began on February 24, has lost momentum in recent months. The annexed provinces – Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia – remain fiercely contested.
The capture of Bakhmut, which is located in Donetsk, would disrupt Ukraine’s supply lines and open a route for Russian forces to advance into cities that are key Ukrainian strongholds in the province.
with pole wires