Ex-GRU colonel blames Putin for war failures in court rant as he’s fined for ‘discrediting the army’

A notorious former colonel of Russia’s GRU spy agency has blamed Vladimir Putin for war failures in Ukraine as he was fined for “discrediting” the army.

Vladimir Kvachkov complained in a Moscow court on Tuesday that neither the Russian president nor Sergei Shoigu, the country’s defence minister, or Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, were “capable of waging a war” in Ukraine.

His outburst came as the court convicted him of “discrediting the armed forces” and fined him 40,000 roubles (£320) over three social media posts featuring unspecified criticism of the “special military operation in Ukraine and the Russian leadership”.

The ruling marked the latest high-profile public clampdown by the Kremlin on nationalist critics who have urged Putin to declare “all-out war” on Ukraine.

But Kvachkov, 75, told the court that the charges against him made no sense, arguing it was “Putin, Shoigu and Gerasimov who are discrediting the Russian armed forces”.

He also denied any involvement with content on Odnoklassniki, the Russian social-media outlet, which had shared his three critical posts.

Kvachkov had told a reporter prior to the hearing that it was “Putin and his team who are guilty”.

If convicted again on the same charge, he will face a jail sentence.

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