Putin on brink as allies take leading role in Ukraine efforts
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Lieutenant General Ben Hodges has highlighted the growing power struggle ongoing in the Kremlin between Vladimir Putin’s Chechen fighters, the Russian Armed Forces and the mercenary Wagner group. Putin has been relying heavily on Chechen and mercenary manpower to bolster the Russian frontline in Ukraine but the former head of US forces in Europe believes Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov are becoming rival power centres in Moscow.
Lt. Gen Hodges told Times Radio: “There are more and more reports of people openly criticising Putin, I saw today reports of recently mobilised soldiers openly protesting but I can’t yet tell how widespread that is.
“Also we know that for centuries, this is not about Putin, but for centuries Russian culture is a very brutal society so the idea that thousands of men are going to be sent forward as cannon fodder is bad luck, I mean that’s what it is.
“So this kind of culture and society is willing to put up with some of this for some point, I don’t know where that point is.
“What I am trying to pay attention to is the emergence of power centres in Russia around Prigozhin, around Kadyrov the Chechen.
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“Even Surovikin the new operational commander I’m not sure he really takes his orders from the general staff, it almost seems he could have a direct line to Putin as well.”
Meanwhile, military analyst Professor Michael Clarke reports Russia is “really worried” about the defence of Crimea.
Russian troops transports have been spotted ferrying troops to the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol as the Kremlin scrambles to secure the Crimean peninsular from Ukrainian assault.
Professor Clarke told Sky News: “Russians are starting an artillery duel now they’re lobbing artillery shells on a fairly occasional basis at the moment into Kherson, and the Ukrainians will have to try to do something about that.
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“An artillery battle I think is developing, meanwhile the Russians are also withdrawing troops from the Kherson area.
“They always wanted to do this but interestingly, they’re not sending them all to the Donbas, which we thought that they would.
“They seem to be sending some of them further south to Melitopol because they’re really worried now about the defence of Crimea and so they’re having to disperse their troops a bit more than we thought they would, judging by where we see that the convoys of their vehicles going.”
It comes after Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov flew into an angry rant over the Russian army’s failure to prevent reported shelling on the border town of Belgorod.
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Solovyov told Russia1: “I’m sorry, I truly don’t get it.
“I don’t get why the hell there are regular strikes at Belgorod, including an American rocket that was taken down yesterday.
“I don’t get it, if we need to move the border, so they couldn’t shell Belgorod you have 300 thousand people, I’m talking about conscripts.”
“Listen this is a danger in our country, our Russian city of Belgorod is under shelling.”
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