A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin admits that the war in Ukraine is not going as Putin had planned or expected.
Reuters is reporting that Viktor Zolotov, chief of Russia’s national guard and a member of Putin’s security council, has admitted on the record that progress has been slower than Putin expected, however, blaming what he called far-right Ukrainian forces hiding behind civilians.
“I would like to say that yes, not everything is going as fast as we would like,” Zolotov said in comments posted on the National Guard’s website.
“But we are going towards our goal step by step, and victory will be for us.”
The United States and its European allies have cast Putin’s invasion as an imperial-style land grab that has so far been poorly executed because Moscow underestimated Ukrainian resistance.
Ukraine, which says it is fighting for its survival and denies Russian claims that its forces have used “civilians as shields” in battle and has accused Moscow of war crimes for indiscriminately killing civilians.
Zolotov has been at Putin’s side since before the turn of the century, running the Kremlin leader’s personal security for 13 years. Since 2016 he has headed up the National Guard force, which reports directly to Putin and has deployed troops in Ukraine.
His comments, made at a church service led by Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on Mar. 13, deviated from those of the Kremlin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who say Russia’s operation in Ukraine is going just as planned and will be completed on time and in full.
Shoigu said claims by the United States and European Union that Putin was somehow disappointed with the progress of what the Kremlin casts as a special military operation amounted to a provocation aimed at prompting Russia to storm cities.
“All the plans of the Russian leadership will be achieved on time and in full,” he said of Ukraine.