Russian President Vladimir Putin is “living in fear of his life” as his troops retreat, a Ukrainian military aide has said.
Earlier this month, Russia announced it was withdrawing from the Kherson region, marking one of Mr Putin’s most embarrassing defeats and a potential turning point in a war that has reached ninth month.
The loss of Kherson, the capital of Russia’s only region captured in the conflict, dealt a blow to efforts to build a land route to Crimea and secure water supplies to the Russian-controlled peninsula.
“[Putin] Very afraid because there is no forgiveness in Russia for the tsars who lost the war,” said Oleksiy Arestovich, adviser to the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president. The Times.
“He is now fighting for his life. If he loses the war, at least in the minds of the Russians, it means the end. His end as a politician. And maybe physically.”
Ukraine’s victory over Kherson came after a series of humiliating setbacks by Kremlin forces in the Kharkiv and Donbas regions.
“This has forced even Putin’s most loyal people to doubt whether this war will be won,” Mr. Arestovich said.
He said the liberation of Kherson triggered another Russian strike on the country’s infrastructure and a new offensive by Belarus, Russia’s ally in northern Ukraine. Putin’s troops advanced on Kyiv from Belarus early in the war, but were forced to retreat after heavy resistance.
Ukrainian authorities have begun evacuating civilians from the recently liberated areas of Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, fearing that lack of heat, electricity and water due to Russian bombing will make life difficult. this winter.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said millions of people in Ukraine will face “life-threatening” conditions in the coming months, with residents in the south urged to to move to safer areas in the central and western parts of the country.
Mr. Arestovich stressed that Ukraine’s goal is to regain all its lands seized by Russia, including Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.
Meanwhile, Mr Putin this week boosted Russia’s Arctic power with a flag-raising and docking ceremony for two nuclear-powered icebreakers that will ensure year-round navigation in the Western Arctic.
Speaking via video link from the Kremlin at the launch ceremony in the former imperial capital of St Petersburg in northern Russia, Mr Putin said he had a strategic plan for the country. such an ice breaker.
“Two ice breakers have been deployed as part of a major serial project and are part of a major, systematic task to resupply and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia’s status as a major Arctic power. ,” Mr. Putin said.
The Arctic has greater strategic importance than the climate crisis, as shrinking ice caps open up new sea lanes. There are vast oil and gas resources in Russia’s Arctic region, including the Yamal Peninsula natural gas field.
Mr Putin smiled as the Yakutia nuclear warship was tossed into the water in the harbor and stood as the Russian national anthem celebrated the raising of the Russian flag on the Ural ice starting in December.
The Russian president also announced plans to meet with the mothers of reservists called up to fight in Ukraine.
The fighting has killed and wounded tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, according to the United States, and the Russian invasion has sparked the biggest standoff between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. .
The meeting with the soldier’s mother, first reported by Vedomosti newspaper, was confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Russia celebrates Mother’s Day on November 27.
“Indeed, such a meeting is planned, we can confirm,” Peskov told reporters when asked if Putin would hold a meeting with the families of the victims.
“A meeting like this is being prepared.
“Such meetings are often held by the president, not all of them are public. In any case, the president receives direct information about the true affairs of the country.