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German spy chief sees no 'cracks' in Putin system

May 23, 2023

Disputes in Russian society do not pose a threat to Vladimir Putin's government, says Bruno Kahl, head of Germany's foreign intelligence service. He argues Moscow has enough recruits and equipment for the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seated and clapping
The head of Germany's foreign intelligence service says that Putin's government is stableImage: SPUTNIK via REUTERS

Bruno Kahl, the head of the German Intelligence Agency (BND), said on Monday that he does not see any weakening of Russian President Vladimir Putin's rule.

"We see no cracks in the Putin system," Kahl said at the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS).

What the German spy chief said about Russia

Kahl argued that public criticism of the management of the war amount to routine disputes within Russian society and do not pose a threat to the Putin regime.

"Russia is still capable of waging a long-range war," he said, pointing to newly recruited soldiers. Kahl said that Russia also has enough equipment and ammunition.

However, Kahl said that Russia had certain vulnerabilities, including the performance of the armed forces.

The spy chief argued that Putin's long-term strategy could prevail if the West does not support Ukraine in a very organized way.

Kahl said that the BND knew that Russia would launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine two weeks before the start of the war in February 24, 2022.

"Around 14 days before the start of the war we detected phenomena that could not be interpreted any other way," he said.

Responding to criticism regarding the fact that the US and British secret services expected an attack much earlier, Kahl said that the BND based its appraisal on the fact that the decision to attack was ultimately made by Putin.

Kahl argued that Putin took into account factors other than just "counting rockets or tanks."

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Kahl urges decoupling from China

The spy chief urged for Germany to reduce its dependence on China, while warning that this could not be achieved in the short term.

"That can't be done disruptively, not overnight," Kahl said.

He said that the BND does not want complete decoupling from China, arguing that this would hurt German businesses.

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sdi/rt (dpa, Reuters)