Russia: Putin 'considering the nuclear option' says Yatsenyuk
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Vladimir Putin put his nuclear arsenal on high alert within days of Russia launching his planned three-day special operation in Ukraine back in February. With Kyiv’s defence forces now gaining ground in their counter-offensive, Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned Putin could now be “really considering” unleashing nuclear powers on Ukraine in a bid to save face and stamp out threats to his leadership. Speaking to LBC, Mr Yatsenyuk said: “Seven months ago, when Putin urged and ordered his nuclear forces to be on high alert, I said, ‘look, this is sabre-rattling.’
“This time I believe Putin is really considering an option to resort to the nukes. The rat cornered himself. Putin, he has cornered himself – there’s no off-ramp for Putin.
“His military is on the retreat, he’s losing ground, even the fact he decided to launch the partial mobilisation won’t fix the problem.
“They’re out of advanced military equipment, they started to use Soviet-style AUD to armoured vehicles and tanks, their military mood is on the down escalator.
“Furthermore, the Washington Post actually report there is huge discontent in President Putin’s inner circle, and that’s obvious.”
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He continued: ” One can say he’s not under sharp criticism – not yet, because people started to talk about all these fallouts that happened in Ukraine.
“In the end, who is to be responsible for these? People will put the blame on Putin, on this war criminal.
“He’s in dire strait, he’s in a very complicate position and for him, this is both an issue of political existence and physical survival.”
And speculation of an “internal power struggle and distrust” appeared to be confirmed earlier this week after footage emerged showing a loyalist of Putin being arrested by the Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR).
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Alexey Slobodenyuk, the head of media for Vladimir Putin-supporting mercenary group Wagner, was seen being pulled from his car after weeks of questioning Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Slobodenyuk argued the failure Russia has been reporting in Ukraine are the result of organisation negligence.
Putin’s decision to mobilise part of the population fuelled further discontent across ethnic regions of Russia, with his go-to propagandists joining in the criticism of the selection process.
And reports of unhappiness among the Wagner Group have also begun to emerge as the mercenaries have been left to grapple with leading the majority of operations.
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CNN reporter Melissa Bell reported this week members of the mercenary group have been lamenting the losses they have been suffering and having had to resort to recruiting from prisons to fill the files back up.
Ms Bell said: “[Wagner] has had to recruit not just those battle-hardened, experienced men that they’ve sought from their theatres of action in Africa at the beginning of the war, but rather they have filled their ranks with people who simply aren’t doing that same sort of fighting.
“Of course, that has made a massive difference to their ability to make a difference on the ground.
“They simply aren’t what they were when this war began, they are not the fighting force that was meant to be functioning inside a full-scale war and Ukraine, it turns out has taken its toll not just on the wider regular army but also on Wagner itself.
“So there are these two recruiting drives, one is from the Russian state, it is, of course, obligatory the money is less than within Wagner, Wagner is voluntary, they are paying more.
“Yet on the ground, of course, what they’re finding is that it is not that many Russians that are choosing to sign up hence the recruitment drives in the Russian prisons.”
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