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Putin facing 'military catastrophe', former defence minister warns

Putin is facing ‘a quick military catastrophe’ with his army in an impossible situation where both attacking or defending will cause further defeats, former Russian defence minister warns

  • Igor Strelkov, a former FSB colonel and ex-defence minister of self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, has given a damning assessment of Putin’s army
  • He said Russia’s forces are ‘in a complete Zugzwang’, a reference to a chess term
  • Whether his army attacks or defends, he said, Putin loses either way

Vladimir Putin is leading Russia towards revolution, making the same catastrophic military mistakes as Russia did in 1917, warns a leading pro-Kremlin war analyst.

His army is at the point of no return where he loses if it attacks and if it retreats, said Igor Strelkov, a former FSB colonel and ex-defence minister of self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic in Russian-occupied Ukraine.

‘Intelligent people have come to the conclusion that, in the current situation, Russia is in a complete Zugzwang,’ he said, in reference to a chess dilemma in which a player is put at a disadvantage because of their obligation to move.

The word is German for ‘compulsion to move’. ‘It is impossible to keep on defending because it quickly worsens [our] strategic position,’ Strelkov said. ‘And it is impossible to attack, since this is fraught with a quick military catastrophe.’ 

Vladimir Putin is leading Russia towards revolution, making the same catastrophic military mistakes as Russia did in 1917, a leading pro-Kremlin war analyst has warned. Pictured: Ukrainian forces launch grad missiles against Russian positions in Donesk

He warned: ‘The combat effectiveness and morale of the army is strongly reminiscent of the same before the July 1917 offensive of [Alexander] Kerensky.’

Strelkov – real name Igor Girkin – was one of the key players in Putin seizing control of Crimea in 2014, and subjugating Ukrainian region Donetsk the same year. He has key support among army and secret services commanders below the top level.

He has long criticised the Russian leader’s current war strategy, and demanded the rushed mobilisation of one million more fighters to defeat Ukraine, as well as a clear-cut of Putin’s top commanders and defence ministers.

In his latest critique, he said: ‘There is not a word said about the Kremlin going for radical personnel changes and other necessary reforms.

‘No-one believes in this anymore.’

He warned of a repeat of Russia’s errors in the months before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 which led to the defeat of a ‘liberal’ government ushering in seven decades of communist tyranny.

He implied Putin’s military strategy is triggering his own downfall.

Putin’s army is at the point of no return where he loses if it attacks and if it retreats, said Igor Strelkov, a former FSB colonel and ex-defence minister of self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic in Russian-occupied Ukraine. He also said Russians do not understand what they are fighting for in Ukraine

Pictured: Adestroyed Russian BMP infantry fighting vehicle lies on the side of the road in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine on January 2, 2023

Russia blames its soldiers’ mobile phone use for giving away their position before deadly Ukrainian missile strike: Click here to read more

 

Kerensky, head of the Russian provisional government after the toppling of last tsar Nicholas II, insisted on a disastrous, ill-timed World War One counter-offensive under supreme commander General Aleksei Brusilov. This turned his troops to mutiny, tens of thousands of dead soldiers, and a collapse of the offensive.

Strelkov warned that Putin’s top commanders were bent on a counteroffensive in Ukraine, aiming to catch Ukraine and its NATO supporters by surprise, with likely disastrous results.

This had been advocated among others by retired Lt-Gen Andrey Gurulev, a pro-Putin TV advocate for the high command, he said.

This ‘clearly demonstrates the general level of brainlessness of our top generals, to which he recently belonged,’ said Strelkov.

‘Probably, the general forgot – or perhaps he never knew – that NATO has a large space capability and effective modern air reconnaissance.

‘There is also radio interception and radio location.

‘They also have brains in their headquarters and analytical centres….

‘Let me remind you that the enemy predicted the offensive of the Russian Armed Forces a year ago – and even posted this information in the media ahead of time and with an accuracy of several days.’

Separately in a video, he said: ‘I stress one more time – our [Russian] army does not understand what it is fighting for.’

Volunteer battalions knew their purpose but were a ‘drop in the ocean compared to the overall number of soldiers and officers at the front’.

The problems are in Putin’s regular forces, he said.

Strelkov, 52, a staunchly pro-war blogger, is among three convicted by a Dutch court last year for the downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet in which all 298 on board were killed in 2014.

Despite this, he remains a key voice inside Russia on the conduct of the war.

Men watch workers removing debris of a destroyed building purported to be a vocational college used as temporary accommodation for Russian soldiers. Russia has admitted that 89 of it soldiers were killed in the attack, although Ukraine claims the figure is much higher

Mourners lay flowers near the Eternal Flame memorial as they gather in Glory Square the day after Russia’s Defence Ministry stated that dozens of Russian servicemen were killed in a Ukrainian missile strike on their temporary accommodation in Makiivka

Strelkov’s comments came after Ukraine claimed on Tuesday that it had destroyed a Russian ammunition store in the latest blow to Putin’s war effort.

The dramatic aerial attack in Svatovo, eastern Luhansk region, was captured on video. Footage from the drone that dropped the explosive showed Russian troops fleeing moments before a huge blast ripped the building apart.

The strikes are the latest in a series of attacks carried out by Kyiv’s forces in recent days that have dealt devastating blows against Vladimir Putin’s invading forces.

Ukraine said two other attacks had taken out 500 Russian troops in the southern Kherson region.

One of the strikes – a major attack on a farm in Chulakivka – was claimed by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, adding to the scores killed in Makiivka, in occupied Donetsk region, on 31 December.

And in the other strike, Ukraine is believed to have hit a recreational facility called Grand Prix used by Russian military occupiers in the village of Sahy, including GRU military intelligence special forces. The scale of any losses here is not yet clear.

These strikes came just a day after after Moscow made a rare admission of massive loss of life in a separate strike by HIMARS missile systems on December 31 on a military barracks.

Pictured: The Russian ammo depot is seen in flames after a drone dropped a bomb on it

As the scale of the devastation was made public, Russian mourners voiced grief and anger at Moscow’s commanders during a rare public commemoration for thesoldiers that were killed in the New Year’s Eve strike.

Russia first admitted that 63 solders were killed. This number has since been raised to 89 – the highest acknowledged loss in the war, although Ukraine says the true number is around 400 dead.

And to make matters worse for Russia’s embattled president Putin, explosions were heard today at a Russian military base in Novy Oskol, Belgorod region, amid suspicions of yet another daring Ukrainian attack across the border on Russian soil.

Smoke was seen in a video pouring into the sky from the facility.

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