Reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin is reeling from the defections of two top officials could be the result of a disinformation operation by Ukraine.

“It is plausible that some Russian officials as would jump ship to the West, as the war in Ukraine is raging with no end in sight,” Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and the author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital. “However, it is very difficult to do for a high-ranking Russian official, whether it’s an intelligence officer, diplomat or general, unless they are being exfiltrated by U.S. or Western intelligence services.”

Koffler’s comments come after reports emerged Sunday that two top Russian officials, an FSB intelligence officer and a high ranking member the Wagner paramilitary group, were able to safely get to France and are now seeking political asylum.

According to a report in the Daily Express, the FSB intelligence officer has “serious insider information” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Kremlin’s counterintelligence and the Defense Ministry. The Wagner Group official is said to have knowledge of the organization’s finances.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(Shutterstock)

The reported defections were revealed by Russian human rights activist Vladimir Osechkin, who said both officials flew to France on the same plane in adjacent rows and were initially suspicious of each other. However, now that they have safely reached France, the activist believes they will reveal Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

“Both these people will testify about war crimes,” Osechkin told Express. “I hope they will have the opportunity to cooperate with the international investigation and testify against Yevgeny Prigozhin and other persons in the Putin regime.”

However, Koffler is not sure the report is true, arguing it could have been planted by a Putin adversary to rattle the Russian leader, who may be already under increased stress amid battlefield setbacks in Ukraine.

Firefighters help a local woman evacuate from a residential building destroyed by a Russian drone strike.

Firefighters help a local woman evacuate from a residential building destroyed by a Russian drone strike.
(REUTERS/Vladyslav Musiienko)

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“The story may be a disinformation operation by Ukrainian intelligence with the goal of getting inside Putin’s head and unbalance him psychologically,” Koffler said. “The second goal would be to have the Western community designate Putin as a war criminal and Russia as a sponsor of terrorism.”

“Committing atrocities as part of ongoing combat operations is standard operating procedure in the Russian military, so it’s unlikely to invoke moral outrage, especially someone who with close ties to the FSB and The Wagner paramilitary group,” Koffler added. “Both are the most brutal Russian entities.”

Such a move would make sense to Ukraine, Koffler argued, noting that the country has applied recent pressure on the West to designate Russia as a sponsor of terrorism and bring war crimes accusations against Putin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

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“This would be the right narrative to attach to this potential disinformation and covert influence operation,” Koffler said. “Both Russia and Ukraine are highly skilled at disinformation operation of this type.”

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