Three signs Putin could be unsure about Ukraine – ‘Russia could step up this war’

Putin ‘started war to secure his power’ says Browder

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As Putin’s invasion of Ukraine enters its fourth month, analysts now believe the Kremlin could soon change tactics as initial goals of seizing major cities failed to manifest in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance. The setbacks suffered by Russian troops have led Tom Nichols, an American writer and academic specialising in international affairs, to believe that President Vladimir Putin could be rethinking his plan. He says there are three signs that people inside the Kremlin are beginning to have a change of heart. Speaking to MSNBC earlier this week, Mr Nichols said: “I’m not sure if Putin is reassessing or someone is reassessing inside the Kremlin.

“There are three things that made me wonder what’s going on inside Moscow, behind those Kremlin walls.

“One of them was this sombre and downbeat Victory Day speech, where a lot of folks including me had real concerns that Putin was going to say ‘now it’s all-out war’.

“Russia does have unexpended capacity. Russia could step up this war. Believe it or not they could be more brutal than they are.

“But instead Putin whined that they had no choice, they had to act against NATO and gave these ‘laugh out loud’ explanations that even he doesn’t believe.”

Another sign that has shocked Mr Nichols is the reestablishment of communications between Russia and the US.

He continued: “The second thing is that we now have high-level military contacts opening up again, which surprises me.

“The Russian defence minister and the chief of the Russian general staff have been allowed to pick up the phone and talk to their American counterparts. There’s been silence on those lines despite repeated American efforts for months.”

Finally, Mr Nicholls says the appearance of a retired Russian general on state television criticising the war is another sign that Russia is coming to its senses.

He concluded: “The third thing is the appearance of a retired Russian general on state television – he is a trenchant and very sombre critic of the war…he warned Russia in February it could lose this war, and he now says ‘here is why we are losing.'”

The expert is referring to Mikhail Khodarenok, who appeared on Russian-state TV last week and suggested that “the situation [for Russia] will clearly get worse”.

Referring to Ukrainian soldiers, he continued: “The desire to defend their motherland very much exists. Ultimate victory on the battlefield is determined by the high morale of troops who are spilling blood for the ideas they are ready to fight for.

“The biggest problem with [Russia’s] military and political situation is that we are in total political isolation and the whole world is against us, even if we don’t want to admit it. We need to resolve this situation.

“The situation cannot be considered normal when against us, there is a coalition of 42 countries and when our resources, military-political and military-technical, are limited.”

However, just days after making this statement, Mr Khodarenok changed his tune.

On the same channel, he said: “When people talk about Ukraine acquiring the ability to counter-attack, well it’s a big exaggeration.

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“And as concerns the actions of our supreme command, there is every reason to believe that the implementations of these plans will in the very near future give Ukraine an unpleasant surprise.”

In the latest news emerging from Ukraine, the governor of Luhansk, a separatist-held region in east Ukraine, has said that Russia is sending “an insane number of fighters and equipment” to take the region.

Serhii Haidai warned on Telegram that Kremlin forces were concentrating their attacks on the region.

He said: “The Russians are advancing in all directions at the same time. They brought over an insane number of fighters and equipment.

“The invaders are killing our cities, destroying everything around.” He said Luhansk was becoming “like Mariupol”.

Russia has concentrated its efforts in the east of Ukraine after failing to take Kyiv and other cities at the start of the conflict.

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