Russian invasion of Ukraine would be disaster for Vladimir Putins ideology

Russia: US 'hasn't seen a pull back' from Putin says Blinken

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Senior US officials have alleged that the Russian claim that it is moving troops away from the Ukrainian border is “false”. The Kremlin said earlier this week that it is moving troops away from the border and back to their bases after the completion of military exercises. US officials, however, claim an extra 7,000 troops have arrived in recent days, on top of the 130,000 already there. Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, warned Russian President Vladimir Putin can “pull the trigger” at any moment.

He said: “He can pull it today. He can pull it tomorrow. He can pull it next week. The forces are there if he wants to renew aggression against Ukraine.”

Russia has repeatedly denied any plans for an invasion, with Putin again claiming on Tuesday that he does not want a war in Europe.

Putin was warned about the potential risks of any invasion by Dr Paul Flenley, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Portsmouth.

He told Express.co.uk that a Russian invasion of Ukraine and taking hold of Kiev would be a “disaster” for Putin’s “ideology”.

He explained: “The damage, the consequences for Russia would be enormous.

“I think the Russian population has not been prepared for an invasion of Ukraine and the consequences.

“Psychologically, the consequences would be enormous. It wouldn’t fit well with the whole rhetoric of Ukrainians as our brothers, and they should be part of a wider association.”

Putin once labelled the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century”.

Some 31 years on, he remains unhappy about former Soviet republics such as Ukraine parting ways from the Kremlin.

Kiev is especially important to Russia, and Putin considers Ukraine part of Russia both historically and culturally.

The first Russian state called Kievan Rus was established in Kiev 12 centuries ago. Though the Russian capital has since moved to St Petersburg, formerly Petrograd and Leningrad, and later Moscow, the emotional presence of Kiev in the nation’s hearts remains.

Putin continues to label Ukraine “little Russia”, with around one third of the Ukrainian population — mostly in the eastern part of the country — speaking Russian and having more pro-Russian sentiments.

Dr Flenley said invading and establishing an alternative government in Kiev would be “madness” and have enormous repercussions at home.

He said: “People would start complaining, ‘What are we doing invading our brothers in Kiev? We’re supposed to be brothers with the Ukrainians’.”

He added: “They’d be questioning why are we invading Ukraine, especially when the body bags start going home, whereas Ukrainians would be fighting for their independence, so the passion would be much greater on the Ukrainian side.”

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New publicly available satellite images, captured earlier this week, show a flurry of new Russian military activity in multiple locations near Ukraine.

Maxar Technologies confirmed on Tuesday that significant activity had been detected in Belarus, Crimea and western Russia.

Helicopters were pictured as well as new deployments of ground attack aircraft and fighter bombers.

Most concerning of all is the apparent presence of a field hospital, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said can only be “construed as preparation for an invasion”.

The ongoing instability and fear from Western leaders suits Putin, Dr Flenley claimed.

He said: “I was thinking recently that it serves Putin not to have a resolution of the situation. He’s playing the long game really.

“The longer it goes on, he’s already got a lot of what he wants — Russia is now back at the top table.

“The Americans, up until this, had largely begun to forget about Russia and were interested in China.

“Now everybody’s visiting Moscow, talking about Russia. So Putin has gone from being ignored and isolated to being in the centre of international politics.”

This was echoed by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. She wrote in The Telegraph this week: “We must have no illusions that Russia could drag this out much longer in a brazen ploy to spend weeks more — if not months — subverting Ukraine and challenging Western unity.”

Though Putin said he does not want war, he continues to demand assurances that Ukraine will not join NATO.

He considers any expansion of the military alliance as a threat, but NATO has refused his demands so far.

Support within Ukraine is growing for the country to join NATO, according to polling conducted last month, though eastern Ukraine remains very much pro-Russia.

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