‘The fish’s head is completely rotten’: Former FSB officer says Russian soldiers are unhappy with Putin and military top brass

Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin are seen together. The Wagner Group reportedly suffered major losses on Sunday when a Ukrainian strike hit their Luhansk headquarters. Alexey Druzhinin/AFP via Getty Images

Some Russian officers are unhappy with President Vladimir Putin and military top brass because of the poor execution of the war, an influential nationalist Russian blogger and former FSB officer said after visiting the conflict zone.

Direct public criticism of Mr Putin is rare in Russia, though nationalist bloggers have been outspoken about the conduct of the war, especially the costly Russian defeats in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region in September.

Igor Girkin, a nationalist and former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014 and then organise pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, said there was some discontent with the top brass.

In a scathing 90-minute video analysing Russia’s execution of the war, Mr Girkin said the “fish’s head is completely rotten” and that the Russian military needed reform and an intake of competent people who could lead a successful military campaign.

Some at the mid-levels of the military, Mr Girkin said, were open about their dissatisfaction with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and even Mr Putin.

“It is not just me… people are not blind and deaf at all: people at the mid-level there do not even hide their views which, how do I put it, are not fully complimentary about the president or the defence minister,” Mr Girkin said.

Russia’s defence ministry did not comment on the remarks from Mr Girkin who has repeatedly criticised Mr Shoigu, a close Putin ally, for the battlefield defeats Russia has suffered in the war.

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