Putin has reportedly given his defense minister until early next month to stop Ukraine's counteroffensive.
The Institute for the Study of War cited an "insider" Kremlin source as saying that Putin also wants his forces to launch a serious offensive against a larger Ukrainian city.
These demands could explain why Russia is launching relentless counterattacks even if they come at a steep cost to the Russian military.
Russian President Vladimir Putin may have given his defense minister until early next month to stop Ukraine's counteroffensive, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
Citing an "insider" Telegram channel called Kremlin Secrets, the ISW said that Putin reportedly gave Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu "a deadline" of early October "to improve the situation on the frontlines, stop Ukrainian counteroffensives, and have Russian forces regain the initiative to launch an offensive operation against a larger city," like Kherson, Odessa, Kharkiv, or Dnepropetrovsk.
The message posted to the Telegram channel said that Shoigu agreed to both of those demands and promised to make them happen.
ISW noted that if Putin's demand to dramatically improve Russia's standing on the frontlines is true, it could explain why Russian forces are launching frequent counterattacks even if they come at a steep cost to the Russian military.
"ISW has previously observed instances in which" Russia's ministry of defense, "fearing the imminent loss of Putin's favor, intensified its efforts to purge commanders who offered honest but negative views and advice and pursued unachievable military objectives at the expense of Russian forces," the institute's assessment said.
In July, one former senior Russian general accused Shoigu of treason. The general also claimed he was removed from his post after raising concerns about issues Russian forces were facing on the frontlines in Ukraine.
The ex-general, Ivan Popov, said in a Telegram message that he flagged issues about "the lack of counter-battery combat, the absence of artillery reconnaissance stations, and the mass deaths and injuries of our brothers from enemy artillery."
Ukraine's counteroffensive has had slow progress as Kyiv's forces try to take back Russian-occupied land in the country's east. But recently, Ukrainian forces have pushed through some Russian defenses.
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