Putin’s Ukraine strategy dismantled by expert: ‘Not going to win hearts and minds’

Putin advisors have 'misled' him over Ukraine conflict

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The Russian President is to speak to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, the Kremlin has said. Their phone call comes after peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv in Istanbul earlier this week. Erdogan has vowed to tell Putin that he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky need to tackle the issues around Ukraine’s Donbas region and Crimea. The Kremlin recognised the independence of the eastern breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Donbas as a precursor to Russia’s five-week war in Ukraine, which has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians, and sparked a humanitarian crisis.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 but most countries still consider the territory to be Ukrainian, under a UN resolution.

After Erdogan spoke to Zelensky on Thursday, he pledged in his call with Putin to repeat his offer to mediate peace talks between the two leaders.

Ukraine has suggested adopting neutral status, meaning it would drop its bid to join NATO in exchange for other countries offering to defend its security if it is attacked.

It is unclear what the Kremlin’s position is on Ukraine’s proposals, but political expert Peter Frankopan has blasted Putin’s strategy of using lethal military force against civilians while coming to the negotiating table.

The professor of global history at the University of Oxford claimed the Russian President’s tactics are “not going to win hearts and minds”.

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He told Express.co.uk: “I think there are ways you can negotiate all of that without bombing maternity hospitals.

“Without shelling schools and children and blowing up theatres filled with civilians.

“So, I think there are all sorts of ways in which rational, reasonable negotiations can take place.

“But doing them at the end of heavy artillery, is not necessarily the way to get a solution that is going to win over anybody’s hearts and minds.”

Putin’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk were just one aspect of his preparations for Russia’s invasion.

The Kremlin strongman also sought to create a pretext for war by claiming that Russia was pursuing “the demilitarisation and denazification” of Ukraine.

Putin has long smeared Ukraine’s government as being full of neo-Nazis, and in a speech before the war, argued that this is who NATO would be supporting if Ukraine is accepted into the nuclear-armed military alliance.

In his speech, he framed the conflict as necessary to halt what he claims is the West’s encroachment eastwards towards Russia.

The Russian leader has long claimed that his nation’s concerns about Ukraine joining NATO have been ignored by the West.

As well as Russia’s alleged NATO fears and Putin’s false claims about Ukraine being run by Nazis, he has also dubiously argued that the two nations are “one people”, whereas the actual ancestry of both nations is more complex.

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Prof Frankopan thinks it is highly unlikely Putin will win over Ukrainians with his claims or his bloody war.

He said: “The question will be, what does Ukraine look like in 20 or 30 years’ time?

“For a generation who have seen families blown apart in front of their eyes, while being told that, ‘We’re all brothers, and we’re all part of the same Slavic brotherhood’.

“I think that the trauma that has been inflicted on Ukraine is almost impossible to understand just from watching it on the TV news.

“I think it is trying to work out how does Ukraine rebuild from any kind of settlement that comes now after what has happened this last month?

“I mean, the use of tanks driving through the streets of suburban neighbourhoods, that doesn’t get easily forgotten or forgiven.”

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