The chief of French military intelligence, Gen. Eric Vidaud, was told to step down from his post partly for “failing to anticipate” the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a military source with knowledge of the matter told CNN.
The source added that Ukraine was not the “only reason” for his departure but that “an internal reorganization of the Directorate of Military Intelligence” was also behind the decision.
Asked what went wrong with Vidaud’s assessment in Ukraine, the source referred to comments made by the Chief of Staff Gen. Thierry Burkhard to the French newspaper Le Monde on March 6 where he recognized shortcomings in the French intelligence assessment of the situation on the ground.
“The Americans said the Russians were going to invade and they were right,” said Burkhard to the French newspaper, while “our services rather thought that the invasion of Ukraine would have a huge cost and that the Russians had other options.”
According to the AFP news agency, Alexandre Papaemmanuel, an intelligence expert and professor at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, said France was aware that its own intelligence had failed on this occasion. But Papaemmanuel said that Vidaud’s Directorate of Military Intelligence isn’t the only branch of the security services to take the blame.
Le Monde reported that other entities, such as the powerful foreign intelligence service the General Directorate for External Security, had sidelined the DRM. And a military source told AFP that the DRM's main role was to provide intelligence on operations, not on intentions.
Its services had concluded that Russia "had the means to invade Ukraine and what happened showed that it was right," the source said.