Russian state TV host warns 'World War Three' may be starting
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According to a confidential report on the war – viewed by senior UK Government officials – Putin believes losing 30,350 troops so far is a “price worth paying” to secure a small part of Ukraine. But the report, written by a top UK analyst on Russia and revealed by The Mirror, warns the tyrant’s soldiers may not last the war of attrition. This comes as the Kremlin’s troops push into the city of Severodonetsk, the largest city in Donbas which remains in Ukrainian hands.
The battered city appears to be at risk of becoming another Mariupol, the port city levelled by constant Russian shelling, as the city’s mayor told Associated Press Russian troops have entered, power and communications have been cut and “the city has been completely ruined”.
According to the latest figures, Russia’s suspected losses in terms of military hardware is 207 warplanes, 174 helicopters, 1349 tanks and 13 boats.
The new report suggests Kremlin figures have tried in vain to persuade Putin his invasion is a catastrophe but the president believes he can still win a “partial victory”.
The Mirror’s Defence and Security Editor Chris Hughes said: “It could be that the only way this war can end is with the death or absence of Vladimir Putin.”
This was a sentiment echoed by a currency expert speaking to Express.co.uk who argued that the same was true of Russia’s economy, which he argued would collapse as long as Putin remained in power.
The analysis piles on the stakes for Putin in terms of the importance of securing Donbas.
If he succeeds in doing so, he would be given considerable leverage against Kyiv in a future peace deal – but failure could lead to him being overthrown as Russia’s leader.
The report comes after increasing accounts of Russian soldiers refusing to fight, with over 100 Russian National Guard being fired last week for declining to fight in Ukraine.
The report stated: “Russia’s attempt to achieve a speedy and decisive victory in the Donbas has not yet succeeded. They are still grinding forward, gaining 1-2km a day.
“The Russians are now achieving what successes they have mostly by means of a slogging match with repeated, very costly, infantry attacks reminiscent of 1945 not 2022.
“The gross failures of the campaign Putin has so far been able to hide quite well from the Russian public, or to blame on various officials, who have been arrested and replaced.
“The Russian population until recently bought Putin’s disinformation.
“We have seen an attempt within the Kremlin to get a message across to Putin and his closest team that things are going wrong, perhaps even catastrophically wrong.”
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The mayor of Severodonetsk added that there are 12,000-13,000 civilians hiding in the city, which used to have a population of over 100,000.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Capturing Sievierodonetsk is a fundamental task for the occupiers.
“We are doing all we can to hold this advance.
“Some 90 percent of buildings are damaged. More than two-thirds of the city’s housing stock has been completely destroyed.”
Russia announced the focus of its “special military operation” is now to seize the entire Donbas region, after the initial plan to seize Kyiv in a lightning strike failed to achieve its goals.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday said the “liberation” of the Donbas was an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, adding that Russia sees the Donetsk and Luhansk regions there as “independent states”.
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