The readout, which was reviewed by DailyExpertNews, describes the perspective of the two defense attachés who attended and their own impressions of what they saw and heard. It offers no definitive explanation for the Russian general’s behavior. Sensitive meeting readings are never made public by the military or intelligence community because they are scrutinized for clues about an adversary’s thinking and intentions.
It notes in particular the conduct of Russian Major General Yevgeny Ilyin, deputy head of the Chief Directorate for International Cooperation, who has a long track record of dealing with US officials. In a break from normal practice, Ilyin spoke without notes or fixed talking points, according to the readout.
As the meeting drifted apart, a US defense attaché inquired “casually” about Ilyin’s family roots in Ukraine, and the Russian general’s “stoic demeanor suddenly turned red and agitated,” according to the readout. The Americans reported that Ilyin answered yes, saying that he was born in Dnipropetrovsk before moving with his family to Donetsk, where he attended school.
But US officials reported that Ilyin then added that the current situation in Ukraine “is tragic and I am very depressed about it” — and then he walked out without shaking hands, according to the readout.
It is unclear why the meeting was held or the circumstances behind it. DailyExpertNews does not know if there is any additional documentation describing the meeting. The reading does not include the names of the US attachés in the meeting and DailyExpertNews has not been able to identify their identities. The Pentagon and the State Department declined to comment. DailyExpertNews has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
The US team felt, according to the readout, that Ilyin just stopped accusing the US and Ukraine of atrocities against his family. It’s not clear why they came to that conclusion, but one of the attachés said, “The fire in his eyes and the nervous demeanor sent a shiver down his spine.”
According to the reading, one of the attachés’ mouth fell open, and both Americans reported that they had never seen such an outburst from Russian colleagues at an official meeting.
American meetings with Russian officials are typically scripted affairs. While it is not clear from the summary what exactly prompted Ilyin’s response, the two US defense attachés attending the meeting assessed the general’s response as a possible sign of moral distress.
“At the very least, it is clear that moral problems among Russian troops are not limited to frontline troops,” the readout concluded.
A Glimpse of US-Russia Military Relations
The readout provides a behind-the-scenes look at a Russian army that has failed in its apparent goal of quickly taking Kiev after launching its invasion last month. Senior US military officials have said publicly and privately that the morale of Russia’s armed forces is suffering as they enter the fourth week of their invasion of Ukraine — an invasion that US officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin thought would be much faster and smoother. expired than it has.
In an interview Tuesday with DailyExpertNews’s Christiane Amanpour, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov disputed US assessments that Russian troops had moral problems. “You should probably doubt this information,” Peskov said. “You have to doubt it, and you have to think twice whether it’s true or not.”
Since long before the invasion, the Kremlin has continued to deny high-level direct contact between senior US generals and Russian counterparts, sparking increasing interest in this meeting. The US has a conflicting telephone line for communications with the Russian military that has been tested daily but has not been used.
The US believes that the refusal for high-level meetings is due to the Kremlin’s fears that the meetings would leave them vulnerable if they allowed such meetings, as there is a risk of tacitly acknowledging the existence of an anomalous situation , according to the reading.
Even before the remarkable end of the meeting, US officials reported that Ilyin’s stoicism began to wane in the meeting as the Americans called the situation in Ukraine a crisis, and the Russian general quickly “corrected and antagonized” them.
According to the readout, the Russian general did not deviate from the Russian strategy of winning the invasion at all costs in the talks. In this case, the two Americans believe they witnessed a Russian general who was “clearly distressed over the situation, but who had nowhere to express his anger except in accordance with the Kremlin’s state-sponsored narrative,” the statement said. reading.
The readout shows that the Americans are not disregarding the meeting, which may have underlined the hardening of Russia’s stance on the war and the need for Russian military officials to follow their orders because they have no other choice.
A senior defense official said last week that the US has “picked up anecdotal evidence that morale is not high” in some military units of the Russian armed forces.
“We certainly have evidence that morale is a growing problem within the Russian armed forces fighting in Ukraine,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. “As time goes by and they still fail to make the progress on the ground they want to achieve, we’ve seen more and more evidence that morale and unity cohesion is a problem.”
DailyExpertNews’s Devan Cole contributed to this report.