French Military Intelligence Chief Reportedly Resigns Over Failure To Predict Russian Invasion

The head of France’s military intelligence service is said to have resigned with immediate effect, after French intelligence failed to predict that Russia would mount a full-scale invasion of Ukraine despite warnings to the contrary by other Western intelligence services.

A source that spoke to the Agence France-Presse said that General Eric Vidaud was to immediately step down from his position as leader of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, spending just seven months as leader of the service. 

The source confirmed a report by the l’Opinion newspaper that an internal investigation by the French Defense Ministry had found Vidaud to have provided “inadequate briefings” and had “a lack of mastery of subjects”. However, another source told AFP that the Directorate and Vidaud had only been tasked with determining whether Russia had the means to invade Ukraine, and not whether it had decided on invading, with their conclusion that Moscow did in fact possess the means to invade ultimately proven right.

Prior to being appointed the head of French military intelligence, Vidaud had been the commander of France’s Special Operations Command. l’Opinion claims that Vidaud was to be told by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces that his tenure would be ending next summer, ahead of schedule, but Vidaud preempted the move by announcing his immediate resignation.

In response to a request for comment from the BBC, a French military spokesman said that French armed forces chief General Thierry Burkhard had no comments on the matter. Burkhard had previously acknowledged in early March that the French intelligence community’s insights on the invasion had not been of the same quality as American and British intelligence, with both countries going public with their intelligence in an unprecedented campaign to dissuade Russia. In an interview with Le Monde, Burkhard said that “The Americans said that the Russians were going to attack, they were right,” adding that French intelligence services had believed that Moscow would use “other options” to topple the Ukrainian government due to the “monstrous” cost of conquering Ukraine.

The apparent misreading of Russian intentions was an embarrassment for French President Emmanuel Macron, who had been in frequent contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the invasion. However, Macron’s personal involvement in subsequent diplomatic efforts to push Russia to end its aggression have burnished his image as a statesman, effectively serving as his main campaigning method for reelection as President.