France reportedly fires military intelligence chief for missing threat of Russia invading Ukraine

Putin and Macron
(Image credit: Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

France is firing Gen. Éric Vidaud, the director of French military intelligence, for downplaying the possibility that Russian would invade Ukraine, even as the U.S. warned for months that such an invasion was imminent, French media reported Thursday.

One source at the Ministry of the Armed Forces told l'Opinion that Vidaud was sacked for "insufficient briefings" and a "lack of mastery of subjects," while Chief of Defense Staff Thierry Burkhard tells Le Monde that Vidaud was dismissed after France's intelligence services realized their analysis of Russia's intentions was erroneous, BBC News reports.

France wasn't alone in misreading the Ukraine situation. The U.S. and Britain said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been receiving misleading intelligence on Ukraine, both before his invasion and after, as demoralized Russian troops are failing to meet key military objectives, dying in great numbers, and now losing ground in some places.

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"It increasingly looks like Putin has massively misjudged the situation" and "the resistance of the Ukrainian people," Jeremy Fleming, the head of Britain's cyber-intelligence agency GCHQ, said in Australia on Wednesday. "Even though we believe Putin's advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what's going on and the extent of these misjudgments must be crystal clear to the regime."

The U.S. has intelligence that Putin has "felt misled by the Russian military," resulting in "persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership," White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said. "Putin's war has been a strategic blunder that has left Russia weaker over the long term and increasingly isolated on the world stage." A senior State Department official told CNN that this is "information that we're confident in now and it's also information that probably had a degree of truth to it before the invasion."

"Putin clearly seems to have thought that he could go into Ukraine, that his forces wouldn't meet resistance, that they would be greeted warmly including in Russian speaking parts of Ukraine, that he would be able to take Kyiv in a matter of 48, 72 hours," the State Department official tells CNN. "Every single element that he seems to have believed turns out to be wrong. So, whether his advisers weren't giving him the full unvarnished truth, whether he wasn't listening ... I think we've seen this every step of the way."

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