‘Killing western leaders’ would be ‘cherry on top’ for Putin after he issues warning

Russia 'not averse' to targeting senior US leaders says expert

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US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said “it is hard to know” if Russia’s forces were targeting him and Secretary of State Antony Blinken while on an official visit to Ukraine’s capital last weekend when Russian forces destroyed railways a few hours after they left Kyiv by rail. While former CIA Chief of Russian Operations Steve Hall said the attack leaves no doubt about Putin’s intentions. Speaking to CNN, Mr Hall said: “I think that if they (Russian forces) manage to hit and kill some senior leaders in the West, I think that would be the cherry on top for Putin and for Russians.”

“They would say: ‘Well, look, they ran a war zone. You guys are the ones who are responsible for helping Ukrainians fight this war, which you shouldn’t be doing.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been blaming the West for fuelling war tensions in Ukraine by ratcheting up artillery and weapons deliveries to Ukraine. In an address to lawmakers in St-Petersburg, Putin warned that any country outside Ukraine interfering would be met with a “swift, lightning-fast” response from Moscow.

“We have all the tools for this – ones that no one can brag about. And we won’t brag. We will use them if needed. And I want everyone to know this”, Putin said.

Mr Hall continued: “As to whether or not they’re actually targeting senior leadership in the United States, I’m not sure about that but they certainly wouldn’t be at risk of having it happen.”

Another reason for deliberately targeting railway and rail lines, Mr Hall points out, is to block the influx of weaponry from reaching the frontline and helping Ukrainians defend themselves.

“I certainly think it’s not just possible but, in my view, highly likely that the Russians are targeting rail lines and railway stations.”

“Primarily because it’s clear that the Russians are completely flummoxed at the amount of weaponry and reinforcement and ammunitions that are coming into Ukraine to support the Ukrainian army in their fight against the Russians.” 

“So, it’s no surprise really that the Russians want to try to cut off those lines inside of Ukraine, so it makes it harder for the Ukrainians to get that ammunition and those weapons provided by the West to the front lines.”

The US, the UK, NATO and European allies have pledged to support Ukrainian forces with additional weapons, as Russian forces are now launching offensives in the eastern region of Donbas. The region has seen fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists since 2014. On February 24, Putin originally launched his “special military operation” in a bid to restore peace in the region and de-Nazify its people.

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To justify the assault, Putin claimed Ukraine is committing genocide in the Donbas and “neo-Nazis seized power in Ukraine”. He also called the Ukrainian authorities “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”.

Some analysts argue Putin could put an end to the war on May 9 when Russians commemorate the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945 and announce some sort of victory.

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