It has been three weeks since Russia started the invasion of Ukraine.
The head of the Intelligence Service in Norway says in an interview with NRK that Russia made a serious mistake when they went to war against the neighboring country.
– The original plan was to use light forces, very quickly get into Kyiv and take control of the capital and the leadership. They were to attack the military forces in many areas in the hope that the Ukrainian forces would fall apart and one would get early and easy control, says sjef Nils Andreas Stensønes in the Intelligence Service.
– That plan did not succeed at all, he says Stensønes to NRK.
– Now they have moved on to what we might call a Plan B, another approach where they use heavier forces, heavier artillery and try to strike out gradually kilometer by kilometer. Then the losses increase sharply among the civilian population and the destruction becomes much greater.
– Russian progress has stopped
Today, the British Ministry of Defense announced that their intelligence shows that Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine has largely stopped “on all fronts.”
– We share the view that this has stopped. There has been very little progress lately, says the E-manager in Norway.
– They have switched to a more traditional military conduct where heavier weapons are used, less precise weapons and where one fights forward kilometer by kilometer, says Stensønes.
Many soldiers have been killed
The intelligence chief says it is difficult to say how many soldiers have been killed on each side in the war so far, because each side tends to underestimate its own losses and exaggerate the other’s.
But he says there have been big losses on both sides.
– Russia has suffered significant losses. They have lost a lot of material and they have lost a lot of soldiers. It clearly affects their ability to run the operations and that is one of the reasons why it is now stopping.
– Grove misjudgments
– President Putin has made some gross misjudgments, says pjef Nils Andreas Stensønes in the Intelligence Service.
– He was wrong about Zelensky’s leadership. He has erred in the courage and resistance of the Ukrainian people. He has erred in the training levels and skills of the Ukrainian forces. He has also misjudged the West’s ability to stand together, to condemn and impose sanctions and to provide support to Ukraine. All in all, it has put Putin in a very difficult situation, he says Stensønes to NRK.
The e-chief believes there are two possible explanations for why Russia has underestimated the opposition in Ukraine. Either they have received too little intelligence, or the Kremlin leadership has not been willing to listen to the intelligence they have received.
– Putin has few objections
– Putin has gradually narrowed the inner core that has access to him. They have suppressed all opposition and we see that alternative voices in the government apparatus have slowly but surely disappeared. One is now left with a small group of people with the same worldview and very similar worldview as himself.
There are few who dare to say anything other than what he wants to hear?
– Yes, he has built a regime and a government apparatus that actually makes it very difficult to come up with alternative views or unpleasant truths.
– What is difficult about this situation is that Putin has run into a situation where the consequences as a result of the Western sanctions will be great and the war will be much more costly than he had imagined. At the same time, he has set very clear requirements for what he wants to achieve. This makes it difficult today to see the way out. The best hope is a good negotiated solution.
Not worried about nuclear weapons
The intelligence chief believes that it is unlikely that Russia will use nuclear weapons in the war.
– We consider this unlikely because there is a very high threshold to start using weapons of mass destruction.
But the E-boss has another concern.
– What worries us is that we see they are laying the groundwork for a false flag operation. They accuse the United States and Ukraine of developing biological and chemical weapons. Then we are worried that this is the reason why they will use the type of weapon that has a completely different destructive effect and will kill many more people and is actually a pretty big threshold to exceed.
– We have not seen any indication that it has been used yet.