Putin furious over no contracts at companies
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown signs of frustration with events in Ukraine as he gives one of his Kremlin colleagues a public telling-off. The despot accused his deputy prime minister, Denis Manturov, of failing to procure military and civilian planes to help with Russia’s war effort.
In footage from the Kremlin video conference, Putin said: “There are no contracts. What are you going to tell me? I know there are no contracts at the companies, the directors told me.
“Why are you really fooling around?”
He added: “This all must be done within a month, I am asking you, within a month… Don’t we understand in what conditions we’re living?”
Manturov bowed his head as he came under immense pressure from the Russian President.
With Russia continuing to underwhelm on the military front, Putin has once again sought to switch things up in the hope of finally making substantial progress in Ukraine.
The Kremlin chief has removed Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed “General Armageddon”, from his role as head of Russia’s war in Ukraine just three months after he took on the job.
Head of the Russian military Valery Gerasimov has replaced him.
Surovikin had been known for his ruthless streak. He served in the Soviet Union’s failed war in Afghanistan and once ordered troops to open fire on pro-democracy protesters in Moscow.
But Gerasimov is one of Putin’s most trusted allies. He was one of only three people who helped plan Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Upon Gerasimov’s appointment, the Russian defence ministry said: “The increase in the level of leadership of the special operation is linked to the expansion of the scale of the tasks at hand and the need for closer interaction between troops.”
Putin’s military changes come after a difficult few months for the Russian president. Moscow’s forces lost key territory near Kharkiv and Kherson towards the end of 2022 as Ukraine’s counteroffensive overwhelmed them.
Fighting in the east of Ukraine, in the Donbas and Luhansk regions, has also been bloody.
The town of Soledar is a key battleground, and Russia could make its first significant territorial gain in months.
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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has remained bullish, saying that the “terrorist state and its propagandists are trying to pretend” that they are making progress in the region.
If Russia can take Soledar, it could help them claim another key city – Bakhmut. Soledar is known for its deep salt mines which hold extensive tunnels and could be useful for attacking other Ukrainian-held areas.
The BBC’s James Waterhouse in Ukraine also explained how taking Soledar could hep Putin’s propaganda drive in Russia.
He said: “The reason they are throwing everything at it is that there is a big propaganda win here… a vital trophy for President Vladimir Putin to present to critics back in Russia”.
Putin has had the help of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his private mercenaries – the Wagner Group – in Soledar and Bakhmut.
Priogzhin even claimed to have driven Ukraine out of Soledar, although the Russian government has been more tentative in declaring this.
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