It appears the Russian President could be planning to scale back his army’s invasion of Ukraine. As the Russian President’s troops suffered a series of setbacks, Moscow said the “special military operation” would now focus on the “main goal, the liberation of Donbas”. Donbas is a region in Eastern Ukraine which Russia has now recognised as an independent republic. The statement comes as reports claim Ukrainian soldiers are driving the Russians further back from the capital Kyiv.
Western intelligence also suggested a Russian brigade commander, Colonel Medvechek, was deliberately run down and killed by his own troops.
As Russia’s military operation struggles, an expert believes Putin could also be suffering from health complications.
According to Former US National Security Council official and prominent Russia expert Fiona Hill, Putin is “not looking so great”.
She said last month: “There seems to be an urgency for this (invasion) that may be also driven by personal factors.
“He may have a sense that time is marching on — (he has been in office for) 22 years, after all, and the likelihood after that kind of time of a Russian leader leaving voluntarily or through elections is pretty slim.”
The former US National Security Council official also told NBC News that Putin is “paranoid” about a potential assassination attempt.
She said: “Any kind of loose talk about somebody taking him out, regime change – he believes we’re in that business anyway.
“He looks at what the US has done, he says it openly all the time – in Libya, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and many other places where we’ve intervened and he looks at that and thinks, I’m not going to let that happen here in Russia. He’s extremely paranoid about this.”
In February, Dr Hill spoke to Politico and was asked whether Putin would launch his nuclear weapons.
She said: “Every time you think, ’No, he wouldn’t, would he?’ Well, yes, he would.
“And he wants us to know that, of course. It’s not that we should be intimidated and scared. We have to prepare for those contingencies and figure out what it is that we’re going to do to head them off.”
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“But at the same time it is also extremely important to prevent this conflict becoming a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia.”
Putin’s reported plans for scaling back in Ukraine have been backed up by comments made by British intelligence officials.
The Telegraph reports that officials said Russia is pulling back from urban warfare as it tries to “limit its own already considerable losses”.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russian forces are increasingly reliant on indiscriminate air and artillery bombardments, as they are “proving reluctant to engage in large scale urban infantry operations”.
Its latest intelligence briefing said: “It is likely Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses, at the cost of further civilian casualties”.