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Ex-GRU colonel blames Putin for war failures in judicial diatribe as fined for ‘discrediting military’

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

Vladimir Kvachkov complained in a Moscow court on Tuesday that neither the Russian president nor Sergei Shoigu, the country’s defense 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 rubles (£320) for three social media posts unspecified criticizing the “special military operation in Ukraine and the Russian leadership”.

The ruling marked the latest high-profile public crackdown by the Kremlin against 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 that it was “Putin, Shoigu and Gerasimov who discredit the Russian armed forces”.

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

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

If he is convicted again on the same charge, he risks a prison sentence.

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