Putin served in the KGB, the Soviet Union’s security agency, early in his life, spending time in Dresden, East Germany, apparently undercover as a translator. He is also known to be a history buff, covering, in part, his country’s military history.
But one author and journalist has questioned Putin’s military credentials, insisting they are not as grandiose as they might seem.
An article in The Times today argues that his dictation of troop movements amounts to ‘interference’ and highlights the president’s claim that he commanded an artillery battalion during the Soviet era.
Mark Galeotti has suggested that the training Putin received was not that different from that of ‘every young man at a Soviet university’ and that if he had been really invested, his military activities could have gone much further .
He wrote in a Twitter thread that while many his age “received draft deferment at the cost of having to undergo reserve officer training” while in school, that could “mostly be crossed over”, at unless one participant is particularly enthusiastic.
The commitment, Mr Galeotti pointed out, was certainly far below that required for the British Army Officers Scholarship Scheme.
In a telling indication of Putin’s desire to advance in this area, the writer said: “It should be noted that once he joined the KGB after graduating, he could have continued to follow their regular refresher training.
“Instead, he chose to take advantage of the exemption granted to KGB agents and abandon it at the first opportunity.
“So even if he would have graduated as a reserve lieutenant, the chances that he would have – even on paper – commanded a full battalion of three batteries seem pretty slim.”
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The question goes deeper than Putin, with Mr Galeotti noting that “none of his relatives” has military experience beyond the basics.
He added that the initial failures of Russia’s “special military operation” highlight the dangers of letting “amateurs [to] play overall.
Although even if the experience of those around Putin were greater than it is, it would not necessarily follow that their leader would listen and take all advice.
Some Kremlin officials told Bloomberg they dared not convey their true position on the war to Putin because they saw “no chance” of him changing course.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, they added that they were ‘too afraid of retaliation’ for their comments.
It may be impossible to pinpoint Putin’s exact — or even general — plans in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war, though most accounts suggest that, regardless of the details, his forces are not performing as well as they do. he would have hoped.
Based on the leader’s modest military background and the resilience of Ukrainian fighters, Galeotti called him “beaten”.