Officials also doubt that the war, which many strategists believe has been an unmitigated disaster for Russia’s military, is likely to lead to the removal of Putin from power, at least in the short term.
That assessment reflects the extent to which officials believe Putin has cemented his control over Russia during his more than two decades in power. Although intelligence officials believe Putin is keenly sensitive to small shifts in public opinion, his ability to crack down on protests and control the media still helps insulate him against any significant popular uprising — leaving him free to prosecute the war on his own terms.
Putin is intimately involved in the day-to-day management of the conflict, according to three sources familiar with US and western intelligence, who told CNN that Putin directly participates in decision-making that in most Western armies would be reserved for lower-ranking officers. One source familiar with Western intelligence said that Putin often makes decisions on minutiae like the location of attack lines and day-to-day operational goals.
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