Russia’s President is celebrating his 70th birthday this Friday – and a few confidants will be there. But it seems that not everyone in Putin’s inner circle has unconditionally backed the Kremlin ruler for a long time. A member of Putin’s inner circle is said to have approached the Russian president directly in recent weeks and criticized his actions in the Ukraine war. The Washington Post reports, citing US President Joe Biden’s daily intelligence briefing.

Accordingly, the unnamed member of the Kremlin’s leadership team openly confronted Putin with military mistakes in Ukraine. For the secret services, this is a clear indication that the Russian government elite is seething – and that Putin is increasingly isolated.

“Since the beginning of the occupation, we have observed a growing concern in Putin’s inner circle,” a Western intelligence official is quoted in the report. “Our assessments indicate that they are particularly troubled by recent Russian casualties, misguided direction, and significant military shortcomings.”

The unexpectedly long duration of the war and the mounting defeats on the battlefield could shake Putin’s unlimited power, US intelligence officials said, according to the Washington Post report.

The “” portal also reported on Friday that the power tectonics in the Kremlin were slowly beginning to falter. “People are terribly afraid of him. But that’s fear without respect. They haven’t had any respect for two or three years more,” a source close to the Russian government told the portal. Two other sources close to the government and one source close to the Kremlin gave a similar description of the mood in Moscow.

As the portal further reports, Putin has gradually stopped informing his ministers about his short- and long-term plans. “Until recently, ministers served at least as a kind of Google for the president. Addressing scenarios he thought were likely, he asked, ‘What if we do that? What would the consequences be? And what if we do it like this? So what?’ But that’s over now,” a source close to the government told the portal.

However, neither the US secret services nor the sources close to the government see any signs in the Meduza report that Putin could soon be overthrown.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov at least acknowledged differences of opinion before important decisions such as mobilization. “There are disagreements at moments like this. Some think we should act differently,” Peskow told the Washington Post. But that is “part of the normal work process and not a sign of division”. He described the US intelligence service’s report on direct criticism of Putin from the inner circle as “absolutely not true”.