Russian President Vladimir Putin “lives in fear for his life” as his army withdraws, a senior Ukrainian military aide said.
Earlier this month, Russia announced its withdrawal from the Kherson region, one of Putin’s most embarrassing defeats and a potential turning point in the war that has entered its ninth month.
The loss of Kherson, the only regional capital Russia had captured in the conflict, dealt a serious blow to plans to build a land corridor to Crimea and secure a water supply to the Russian-controlled peninsula.
“[Putin] is very afraid because in Russia there is no forgiveness for tsars who lose wars,” said Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff. The times.
“He is now fighting for his life. If he loses the war, at least in the minds of the Russians, it will be the end. The end of him as a political figure. And possibly in a physical sense.”
Ukraine’s victory over Kherson came after a series of humiliating withdrawals by Kremlin forces in the Kharkiv and Donbas regions.
“This has made even people who are very loyal to Putin doubt whether they can win this war,” said Arestovich.
He said the liberation of Kherson has led to renewed Russian attacks on the country’s infrastructure and plans for a new offensive from Belarus, a Russian ally in northern Ukraine. Putin’s forces advanced towards Kiev from Belarus during the early stages of the war, but were forced to retreat after stiff resistance.
Ukrainian authorities have begun evacuating civilians from recently liberated parts of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, fearing that a lack of heat, power and water due to Russian shelling will make living conditions too difficult this winter.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says millions of people in Ukraine will face “life-threatening” conditions in the coming months, urging residents of the southern regions to move to safer areas in the center and west of the country.
Arestovich reiterated Ukraine’s drive to recapture all of its land seized by Russia, including Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.
Meanwhile, this week Putin praised Russian Arctic power at a flag ceremony and dock launch for two nuclear-powered icebreakers that will ensure year-round navigation in the western Arctic.
Putin, who presided over the launch ceremony in northern Russia’s former imperial capital of St Petersburg via video link from the Kremlin, said such icebreakers are of strategic importance to the country.
“Both icebreakers have been laid down as part of a major serial project and are part of our large-scale, systematic work to re-equip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia’s status as a major Arctic power,” Putin said. .
The Arctic is taking on greater strategic significance as a result of the climate crisis, as a shrinking ice cap is opening up new shipping lanes. There are huge oil and gas deposits in the Arctic regions of Russia, including a liquefied natural gas plant on the Yamal Peninsula.
Putin smiled as the Yakutia nuclear icebreaker was launched into the water in the harbor and stood as the Russian national anthem graced the hoisting of the Russian flag on the Ural icebreaker which will begin operations in December.
The Russian president also announced plans to meet with the mothers of reservists who have been called up to fight in Ukraine.
The war killed and wounded tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, according to the United States, and the Russian invasion led to the largest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
The meeting with soldiers’ mothers, first reported by the newspaper Vedomosti, was confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Russia celebrates Mother’s Day on November 27.
“Indeed, such a meeting is planned, we can confirm that,” Peskov told reporters when asked if Putin would hold a meeting with families of the mobilized.
“Such a meeting is in preparation.
“The president often holds such meetings, not all of which are public. At least the president gets first-hand information about the real state of affairs.”