Putin’s troops baffled by Ukrainians’ grit as he ‘draws breath’ – ‘Stronger than expected’

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Today marks five weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine by land, sea and air in a brutal campaign of military aggression. The bloody conflict has killed more than 1,000 civilians and caused four million people to flee Ukraine. More than two million of the refugees are children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). Combined with the 2.5 million children displaced within Ukraine, this means that more than 60 percent of children in the country have had to leave their homes.

Diplomatic efforts to bring the war to an end have been taking place between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey this week.

The peace talks will allow Putin to “draw breath”, according to Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at the University of Oxford.

The political expert claimed the Russian despot will now be carefully considering his next moves after his troops faced a “stronger than expected” resistance in Ukraine.

He told Express.co.uk: “The Ukrainians have been fantastic at communicating to the outside world what is going on.

“And at explaining the horrors and the tragedy too.

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“I think that it is very difficult to authenticate verified individual reports of mutinies and so on.

“But it is clear that Ukraine has put up a much stronger fight than the Russians had been expecting.”

He added: “I think that as Putin now gets the chance to draw breath it also will focus the minds of NATO states.

“Particularly in the UK. What more can we be doing to fortify Ukraine’s defence if it does go wrong again.”

Against the backdrop of the negotiations, the US has claimed Putin’s military chiefs and economic advisors are keeping him in the dark about events in Ukraine.

Key aides in the Kremlin strongman’s inner circle are too scared for him to face up to the realities of Russia’s stalling advances in Ukraine, and the impact of sanctions on the economy, according to the White House director of communications Kate Bedingfield.

She told journalists on Wednesday: “We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing.

“And how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth.”

She added that it is “increasingly clear” Russia’s invasion is a “strategic blunder” that will leave it vulnerable in the future.

She also said that the US “continued to see evidence” of Russia “attacking and advancing in places where they had previously said they would not”.

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Her update came after the Kremlin reneged on its pledge to dramatically scale back military operations in the besieged city of Chernihiv and near Kyiv.

Prof Frankopan claimed there is hope that an end to the conflict is possible, but warned that Putin should not be taken at his word.

He said: “There is hope, I think, that we might turn a corner but that does require good faith actors on all sides.

“And with Russia, it is not completely clear that that is what is going to happen.

“Remember, even the day before the Russian army went into Ukraine, senior figures in the Russian government were promising that there was no chance of an invasion.

“So, we should have a strong, stiff look before we jump to any kinds of assumptions or conclusions.”

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