The cascading collapse of the front in the Kharkiv region, the most severe economic sanctions and the mass exodus of citizens were powerless to move the thinking of President Vladimir Putin.
Having announced the mobilization, the first for Russia since 1941, which, according to official figures, will affect up to 300 thousand people, and according to unofficial data – up to a million, Putin does not intend to retreat from his goal of seizingaboutmost of Ukraine, reports Bloomberg with reference to officials and sources close to the Kremlin.
According to them, on Friday, Putin intends to address the Federal Assembly, after which – within a few days – the Kremlin will “register” the annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions. On Tuesday, with a predictable result – from 87% to 98% “for” – “referendums” ended there, which even President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has not yet decided to recognize.
And although the West is preparing new sanctions, and military analysts doubt the capabilities of untrained mobilized soldiers, Putin does not plan to stop.
Bloomberg sources close to the Kremlin believe that Russia will be able to regain the initiative on the battlefield, move deep into Ukraine and capture several major cities. Among them are Kharkov, abandoned by the army in May, and Odessa, which the troops never managed to reach.
This will leave only part of the pre-war territory of Ukraine, the sources say. While the plan looks overly ambitious, Russian officials believe that the army will be able to fight Ukraine to the bitter end, and the Kremlin will eventually reach an agreement that will secure at least some of the gains.
Sources CNN, familiar with US intelligence, claim that Putin is personally moving troops in Ukraine. According to them, this is “an extremely unusual tactic” for a modern army, which indicates a deep discord in the Russian military machine.
But Putin is banking on gas and nuclear blackmail. On Tuesday, Gazprom threatened to stop transit through Ukraine, the last flow of gas still going to the EU, and former President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia “has the right to use nuclear weapons if necessary.”
The United States held non-public talks with Russia at the “highest level” and warned that a nuclear strike would be given a “strong response” with “catastrophic consequences” for Russia, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.