British media reports, citing intelligence sources, that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directs the movements of individual units in his army. This is extremely unusual - and obviously not very helpful.
According to a report, Vladimir Putin is so involved in war planning that he makes decisions for smaller army units himself. Referring to Western sources, the British "Guardian" reports that Putin continues to work closely with Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov. "We believe that Putin and Gerasimov are involved in tactical decisions at a level that we would normally expect a colonel or a brigadier general to make," says one of the newspaper's sources. It goes on to say that it is believed that Putin's top general is still "ready for action," despite being suspended after military failures.
Military expert Ben Barry, a former British Army officer, told the newspaper: "A head of government should have better things to do than make military decisions. He should set the political strategy instead of getting bogged down in day-to-day business." According to the British Times, a source compared Putin's alleged micromanagement to what is happening at global logistics giant Amazon: "Jeff Bezos doesn't deliver packages." The assessment of Putin's personal involvement is based on Western intelligence information, but the British media did not provide any further details on the sources.
In the Russian military, compared to Western armies, there is even more top-down command, with orders typically going to the generals on the ground. However, the faltering invasion has apparently forced Moscow to move its generals closer to the front line, where up to 12 senior military figures have already been killed, according to Ukrainian forces. The death of such high-ranking military officers, who are actually responsible for the strategy of their units far from the front, is considered highly unusual.
Moscow's armed forces have so far failed to break through in Donbass, where they have been conducting an offensive for a month. As the "Guardian" reports, the president is also said to be involved in planning troop movements in places where the Russian military suffered a serious defeat last week.
A failed attempt to cross the Siverskyi Donets River at Bilohorivka had resulted in the destruction of more than 70 Russian vehicles and the loss of at least a battalion's worth of equipment, according to estimates based on aerial photographs of the battlefield. The British Ministry of Defense said the Russian army had suffered heavy casualties. The maneuver speaks "for the pressure under which the Russian commanders are to advance their operations in eastern Ukraine".
In a Twitter thread, former Australian General Mick Ryan analyzed the significance of the battle, in which, according to unconfirmed observations, hundreds of Russian soldiers lost their lives: "Because of the defeat crossing the river, the Russians probably lost an axis of advance from which they obviously thought they would be useful in their eastern offensive. This is a major setback for them."
The defeat prompted some Russian military bloggers to "comment on the Russian military's incompetence toward its hundreds of thousands of supporters," according to the Institute for War Studies -- a rare sign of internal disagreement.