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“True believers”: Putin lives in an isolated information bubble – says former Britain’s MI6 chief

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The President of Russia is a victim of his own narrative in that Mr. Putin only listens to a small number of individuals and ignores the rest. This gives him a different view of the world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who killed people in a horrific war in Ukraine, is confined in an information bubble he has built, which holds very little outside information, particularly any that would contradict his ideas.

Today, according to British intelligence, Putin’s network of contacts has shrunk to individuals who share his vision and interests.

“The challenge of understanding the Kremlin’s moves is that Putin is the single decision-maker in Moscow,” said Sir John Sawers, a former head of UK’s MI6.

According to the former head of MI-6, it is extremely hard to have accurate intelligence about what is going on in the leader’s head in a well-protected system like Russia, especially when so many of his people are unaware of what is really going on.

According to psychology professor Adrian Furnham, Putin only listens to a limited number of people and blocks all other viewpoints.

“He is a victim of his own propaganda in the sense that he only listens to a certain number of people and blocks out everything else. This gives him a strange view of the world,” said the professor.

Mr Putin’s circle has never been huge, but when it came to the decision to invade Ukraine, it had shrunk to only a few people, according to Western intelligence officials, all of Mr Putin’s “true believers” who share his mindset and obsessions.

Understanding Mr Putin’s aims and attitude is critical for Western spies and policymakers today. Predicting his reaction is crucial to determining how far they can push him without causing a harmful reaction.

“Putin’s self concept does not allow for failure or weakness. He despises such things” said Ken Dekleva, a former US government physician and diplomat, and currently a senior fellow at the George HW Bush Foundation for US-China Relations. “A cornered, weakened Putin is a more dangerous Putin. It’s sometimes better let the bear run out of the cage and back to the forest.”

Image Credit: Getty

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