Russia: Rupert Jones on Putin’s next move
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Ukraine has been warned the chances of the war with Russia ending favourably on their terms is “pretty small” because Vladimir Putin has plunged too much into the conflict to now throw it all away. The Russian President has been dealt devastating blows in the war, with tens of thousands of his troops killed and masses of expensive artillery destroyed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the UK and European Union last week, pleading with respective parliaments to supply his country with fighter jets and long-range weapons.
But despite Russia’s struggle in the war, there is growing speculation Putin could ramp up the war with Ukraine as the first anniversary of the invasion approaches on February 24.
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s top security official warned “Russia is preparing for maximum escalation” as the war between the two countries enters a critical stage.
Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired British Army officer who served from 1977 to 2006 and was an infantry battalion commanding officer, warned of the consequences upcoming “major offences” could have on Ukraine.
He told Express.co.uk: “This war could go on for many months and even years but the critical point will be whether these Russian and Ukrainian offences succeed or fail.
“If the Russians are able to muster enough combat power to do really severe damage to Ukraine – more than they have done already – that could see Ukraine in a situation Russia hoped it would be in.
“The chances of the war ending favourably on Ukraine’s terms are pretty small because I don’t see with Putin, with everything he has plunged into this war and everything he has lost in this war, could contemplate the status quo that existed before February 24, 2022.
“He has to fight and keep it going. The prospects are for either a Russian victory over Ukraine or a prolonged conflict.”
Colonel Kemp said Russian and Ukrainian troops are gearing up for “major offensives in the coming weeks, and possibly months”, and explained how and where Putin could focus his attacks.
He continued: “We have Putin mobilising his forces, getting ready to send them into Ukraine – some are already there to give him a much-needed significant boost than he has had up until now to try and smash the Ukrainian army. There are a number of different directions that Putin could attack from.
“He could attack from the south up towards the Donbas region, he could attack from the north from Belarus or he could attack from the northeast from inside Russia towards Kyiv. The options are open to Putin to some extent.
“Ukraine has got to do two things – defend against that operation if it occurs, and they also have to try to go on the offensive themselves.
“Whether they can do those two things together – and their attack will be down towards the south if they are able to mount it down towards Mariupol to cut in half the Russian forces along the south close to Ukraine.”
But Colonel Kemp also warned this could be the “last roll of the dice” for the Russian President, who will need a “significant victory in the early part of this year” to reverse increasingly divided opinion against his war plan.
Failure to achieve this would leave Putin facing a “very bleak future” and the possibility of a coup in Russia against him.
The retired British Army officer continued: “This could be Putin’s last roll of the dice. The Ukrainians have taken a huge hit, but of course, so has Putin.
“We all know things didn’t work out how we expected or how he conditioned the Russian people to expect, so he has to have a significant victory in the early part of this year if he can achieve it.
“If he can’t achieve it in terms of the last roll of the dice, it could be a very bleak future for him with the possibility of some kind of coo in Russia against him. He will be very mindful of that possibility.”
This comes with Ukrainian military officials warning Russia already has hundreds of fighter jets and thousands of tanks, ready for “a new wave of attacks” in the coming days.
Russia is estimated to have a massive force of 1,800 tanks, 3,950 armoured vehicles, 810 multiple-rocket-launch systems and 400 fighter jets in its arsenal that could be used for a major offensive in Crimea.
Ukraine is reported to be prepared to utilise British long-range missiles in order to attack Russia’s seized peninsula.
Talks are understood to be underway about how many long-range missiles the UK could potentially supply to thwart the massive threat from Russia.
An unnamed Ukrainian defence official has estimated that Russia has readied 300 helicopters and 2,700 artillery systems, according to Foreign Policy, with the official warning Kyiv is expecting a large-scale invasion to occur within the coming weeks.
They said: “We expect in the next 10 days a new, huge invasion.”
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