Russia is staring in the course of an “inevitable defeat” in the city of Kherson, the former head of the British armed forces has said.
General Lord Dannatt, former chief of general staff, said Putin’s troops are in the midst of a “managed withdrawal” from the regional capital – in southern Ukraine – to avoid a chaotic defeat as they witnessed last month. Kharkiv suffered.
Meanwhile, the country’s elite are trying to negotiate an end to the war with the West because they realize they have lost, according to the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov.
Kremlin insiders also plan to seize power from Putin with Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Sergey Kiriyenko, Vladimir’s domestic policy tsar, among the frontrunners, Budanov added.
A Ukrainian tank opens fire on Russian troops near Bakhmut, in the east of the country, as Putin’s forces are driven back onto the battlefield
Ukrainian artillery crews fire their cannon as they fight with Russian troops in the eastern Donbas
According to the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service, Vladimir Putin’s grip on power is weakening as power players line up to replace him.
Ukraine plots conspiracy with UK to create ‘dirty bomb’, Russia claims
Ukraine is plotting with the UK to create a nuclear “dirty bomb” for use on its own territory, Russia has today implausibly claimed.
Kiev plans to use spent nuclear fuel from its nuclear power plants and British know-how to create a device capable of spreading radioactive contamination over “thousands of square meters,” Russia’s defense ministry said.
The blast will be blamed on Russia to justify an escalation in the fighting, the ministry added.
It came when Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, chief of Russia’s radiation defense forces, swore his men are ready to fight through the fallout.
Ukraine and its allies – including the UK and the US – say Kiev has no nuclear weapons or plans to build one.
They say Russia’s rumors of a nuclear explosion may be intended to cover up Putin’s own use of nuclear weapons, and have warned of “devastating” consequences if he chooses to detonate one.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Lord Dannatt said Russia remains “on the back foot” on the battlefield in Ukraine, targeting infrastructure as a result.
The situation is particularly critical in the southern city of Kherson, which has been attacking Ukraine since early August. Sergei Surovikin, Putin’s new general commander in Ukraine, has suggested in recent media appearances that he is withdrawing.
Lord Dannatt said; “The Russians are clearly thinking about trying to turn what will probably be an inevitable defeat there into a kind of controlled withdrawal to make it look less chaotic.”
Budanov painted a slightly different picture in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda, saying that the Russians are only withdrawing civilians and related infrastructure – such as bank machines and money shops.
Putin’s commanders are bringing troops into the city and preparing defenses, and they plan to try to maintain control, he added.
But they also know that if they lose control of the nearby dam at Nova Kakhovka, they will lose their only route of withdrawal from the city, Mr Budanov added, and may have to make a quick decision whether or not to flee.
Surovikin’s comments are intended to lay the groundwork for that retreat in the event it is ordered at short notice, he said.
Losing Kherson – the only regional capital captured by Putin’s forces and which he declared Russian territory a few weeks ago – would be the most embarrassing loss of the war yet.
Mr Budanov said annexing the regions had backfired greatly for Putin, and some of his elites were shaken up to negotiate with the West because they realized the hopelessness of the situation.
A ruined city in the northern region of Kharkov is pictured after it was liberated by Ukrainian forces in recent weeks
A self-propelled howitzer in use by the Ukrainian military sits in a field while the crew waits to receive orders to fire on nearby Russian troops
“The senior military and political leaders began to carry out mass strikes … to force negotiations,” he said. ‘It will not work.
“Others ran to negotiate, as they say, with Western countries. How to negotiate? To say, “We’re powerless here, we’re not. But we’re ready for change, it all has to stop.”
The infighting to replace Putin also got “definitely worse” after the annexation, Mr Budanov added, with public confidence in the leadership being eroded as more and more “Russian” territory is liberated by Ukraine.
When asked who could replace Putin, Mr. Budanov suggested two names: Nikolai Patrushev and Sergey Kiriyenko.
Patrushev is a former director of the FSB who has been secretary of the Security Council since 2008. He is a staunch ally of Putin and hostile to the West.
His name is often put forward as a possible successor.
Kiriyenko served a short and disastrous tenure as Russia’s youngest prime minister after being appointed in 1998 at the age of 35.
But at the time, he did appoint Putin as head of the FSB, which returned the favor and saved Kiriyenko’s political career when he became president in 2000.
Kiriyenko is now known as Putin’s tsar of domestic policy and is reportedly tasked with overseeing the annexation of occupied Ukraine.
A destroyed armored personal carrier is seen near Borivske, in the Kharkiv region, after the area was recaptured by Ukraine
Putin’s war in Ukraine has now gone on for eight months after what should have been a days-long “special military operation” failed spectacularly.
Russia is instead fighting a war of attrition with its neighbor, which has shredded its army and achieved almost none of its objectives.
After giving up the advance almost everywhere except the eastern city of Bakhmut, Putin now seems to be trying to hold on to the territory he has managed to take.
He has called on Russia’s military reserves – some 300,000 men – to plug the gaps in the front line as Ukraine tries to retake territory before winter sets in.
Ukraine has not only been pushed back to Kherson, but has also succeeded in liberating part of the area near Kharkov, in the north.
Troops are now moving further west into Luhansk, trying to evade the offensive in Bakhmut.
It is thought that the Ukrainian game plan would then be to move south, towards Crimea, before retaking the peninsula – which is hugely important for Russia.
President Zelensky has stated that the war on the peninsula will end, and Mr Budanov said he believes that moment could come as early as next summer.