The UK media The Times claims that the main initiators of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine were FSB head Aleksandr Bortnikov and chairman of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev.
Having talked to insiders in the Russian government, the media reports that a four men played a central part in leading Russia to war — Putin and three siloviki: Patrushev (dubbed Putin’s gray cardinal), Bortnikov, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“Of the latter three, it was Patrushev and Bortnikov who were the prime political movers, Shoigu the sometimes hesitant executor,” The Times reports.
According to the sources, Patrushev and Bortnikov saw that Russian President Vladimir Putin is almost 70 years old and there will be no other such chance to persuade him to war.
At the same time, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to the newspaper, was somewhat hesitant about the need for an invasion.
By midsummer of 2021, a “critical mass” of opinion among the innermost circle of Putin’s friends and advisers had coalesced around the necessity of landing a “decisive military blow,” but it was unclear what form it could take, a Russian government official told The Times. By the end of the summer, the top siloviki had decided to invade, and all that remained was to persuade Putin to launch the operation.
Foreign Minister Lavrov was given the “final chance to make diplomacy work” in an ultimatum-like document published in December 2021 that demanded NATO retreat to its pre-2007 borders. British diplomats interpreted these outrageous demands not as an indication of how far the hawks in the Kremlin had moved away from compromise, but as a 00 sign that Putin would be able to settle for less.
The precise plan of the invasion and its extent was kept secret even from all but Putin’s innermost circle of confidants: the majority of Putin’s Security Council were told of the coming strike at Kyiv and Kharkiv only after the fateful February 21 meeting of the Security Council.