In a rare burst of emotion, a “depressed” Ukrainian-born Russian major general called the military operation in his home country “tragic” and suddenly walked out of a meeting with U.S. officials, CNN reported Thursday.
The Americans indicated the emotional moment was likely a sign of a broader upheaval and poor morale in Russia over the military operation in Ukraine.
Maj. Gen. Yevgeny Ilyin, deputy chief of the main directorate of international cooperation, became upset in a rare meeting late last month with Americans at the Russian ministry of defense in Moscow, CNN reported.
A U.S. defense attaché inquired about Ilyin’s Ukrainian family roots just as the meeting was breaking up, according to a U.S. summary of the meeting obtained by CNN.
The typically “stoic” Ilyin became “flushed and agitated,” according to the U.S. account of the meeting. He said he was born in Dnipropetrovsk and then moved with his family to Donetsk, where he went to school. Both cities are in Ukraine.
He then called the situation in Ukraine “tragic and I am very depressed over it” — then exited the room without shaking anyone’s hand, according to the account, CNN reported.
What specifically Ilyin was reacting to, as well as the circumstances of the meeting and other details, could not immediately be determined, according to CNN.
“At the very least,” noted the American account, “it is clear that morale problems among Russian forces are not limited to front-line troops,” the summary concluded.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is reportedly furious and humiliated that Russia wasn’t able to conquer Ukraine in just days, as he expected. Amid his fury, top spies have been placed under house arrest and at least one top government official, Putin aide Anatoly Chubais, has reportedly fled Russia over his opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.