Vladimir Putin has been trying to extend Russia’s control across the whole of Ukraine for nearly two weeks but has been met with fierce resistance from the local population. The Ukrainian Government claimed over 10,000 Russian soldiers have died since the start of the war on February 24. Retired Gen Jack Keane warned Putin could resort to an unprecedented strategy in his desperate attempt to take over Ukraine.
Speaking to Sky News, Gen Keane said: “Putin is bringing forces in as far away as the east coast of Russia, near the Pacific Ocean.
“They’re real close as we speak, it’s going to take them days to get there.
“He’s had a limited reserve call up, we’ve got to watch and see if he increases that, or even goes to something that’d be unheard of – full mobilisation.
“But Putin is determined to accomplish his objective and that is to topple the regime, turn it over and install a friendly government despite the obvious issue, it’s such an elephant in the room, that the Ukrainians will fight him tooth and nail after that as an insurgent force for as long as it takes to get rid of the Russians.”
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The retired general also questioned NATO’s reaction, insisting Western allies should have been working together to prepare Ukraine for attempts to remove President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Ukrainian president has reportedly survived at least five attempts on his life since the beginning of the conflict.
Gen Keane added: “Putin seems to have dismissed that, he certainly doesn’t seem concerned about it, but we should have been planning for along with NATO to help the Ukrainians during that phase of the operation if and when the Government is toppled.”
Russia calls the campaign it launched on February 24 a “special military operation”.
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About 200,000 people remained trapped in the besieged Black Sea port of Mariupol, most sleeping underground to escape more than six days of shelling by Russian forces that have cut off food, water, power, and heating, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
About half of the 400,000 people in the city were due to be evacuated on Sunday but that effort was aborted for a second day when a ceasefire plan collapsed as the sides accused each other of failing to stop shooting and shelling.
Vladimir Putin said he wants a “demilitarised”, “denazified” and neutral Ukraine, and likened Western sanctions “to a declaration of war”.
Western sanctions have pushed many companies to exit investments in Russia, while some Russian banks have been shut out of a global financial payment systems, driving down the rouble and forcing Moscow to jack up interest rates.