Putins senseless invasion plot in ruins as Russians savage plan – army chiefs furious

Vladimir Putin using Ukraine to ‘distract’ US claims Tatlow

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In a stunning critique, the officers described Mr Putin’s threats to invade Ukraine as “criminal”, “dangerous” and “senseless”. The letter was written by the so-called All-Russian Officers’ Assembly and was published on their website at the end of January. Addressed to the “President and Citizens of the Russian Federation”, the authors urged fellow military colleagues and ordinary people to oppose Mr Putin’s drive to war.

“We are officers of Russia, we demand to abandon the criminal policy of provoking a war in which the Russian Federation will find itself alone against the united forces of the West,” they wrote.

“We appeal to all retired military personnel, citizens of Russia with a recommendation to be vigilant, organised, support the demands of the Council of the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, actively oppose propaganda and unleashing a war, and prevent an internal civil conflict with the use of military force.”

The organisation is headed by the retired General-Colonel Leonid Ivashov, who was a leading military hardliner back in the 1990s.

The 78-year-old was one of the instigators behind the notorious standoff at Pristina Airport during the Kosovo War in 1999.

At the time Russian troops tried to stop NATO peacekeepers from entering Kosovo.

The General-Colonel was sent into retirement by Mr Putin in 2001 at the early age of 57.

The retired military officer founded his All-Russian Officers’ Assembly in 2003 and is certainly no friend of NATO or the West.

The group’s ideology is an eclectic mix of Soviet nostalgia, religious orthodoxy and patriotic conservatism – elements that should endear the members of the Putin regime.

However, they have consistently criticised the Russian tyrant for being corrupt and have repeatedly called for his removal.

The General-Colonel dismissed Mr Putin’s repeated claims that NATO represented a pressing existential threat to Russia.

“As for external threats, they are certainly present,” he wrote.

“But, according to our expert assessment, they are not currently critical, directly threatening the existence of Russian statehood, its vital interests.

“On the whole, strategic stability is maintained, nuclear weapons are under reliable control, NATO forces are not building up, and they are not showing threatening activity.

“Therefore, the situation that is being whipped up around Ukraine is, first of all, artificial, mercenary in nature.”

The former military hardliner accused the Kremlin strongman of potentially bringing about the destruction of the Russian state if he were to unleash the dogs of war in Ukraine.

He said: “The use of military force against Ukraine, firstly, will call into question the existence of Russia itself as a state; secondly, it will forever make Russians and Ukrainians mortal enemies.

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“Thirdly, there will be thousands (tens of thousands) of dead young, healthy guys on one side and on the other, which will certainly affect the future demographic situation in our dying countries.”

Analysts believe the intervention by the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly is significant.

In an article for the website Just Security, Anders Aslund noted the society’s members are known as the most hardline military figures in the country and boast good relations with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.

The GRU was implicated in the 2018 Novichok poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

It comes as US President Joe Biden is preparing to talk again to Mr Putin on Saturday in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a bloody war in Ukraine.

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