Russian troops have accidentally shot down their own aircraft and have at times refused to obey orders, according to Britain’s cyber-intelligence agency, GCHQ.

In a speech to be delivered at the Australian National University on Thursday, Sir Jeremy Fleming will say it is clear that Vladimir Putin “massively misjudged” the situation in Ukraine, and “over-estimated” the capabilities of Russia’s military.

“We’ve seen Russian soldiers – short of weapons and morale – refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” says the text of the speech on GCHQ’s website.

Echoing comments from US and Ukrainian officials this week, Fleming will also say that Putin’s advisers “are afraid to tell him the truth”.

Even so, Fleming will say that “what’s going on and the extent of these misjudgements must be crystal clear to the regime”.

The speech also notes that GCHQ believes Russia has made a “sustained” attempt to disrupt Ukraine through cyber-attacks.

“And we’ve certainly seen indicators which suggest that Russia’s cyber actors are looking for targets in countries that oppose their actions,” he said.


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