Putin’s sick Ukraine plan: Russian despot ‘a hostage’ with ‘no choice’ but to ramp up war

Putin has his 'back against the wall' says Lord Robathan

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NATO leaders are meeting for crunch talks in Brussels today as they outline what further military support will be given to Ukraine after Russia invaded the country four weeks ago. Putin claims Ukraine’s attempts to join NATO represent a threat to Russia and has demanded that Kyiv drop its accession bid in exchange for the withdrawal of Russian troops. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he is open to pledging not to join the western security bloc if it means a peace deal can be reached with Moscow.

Ahead of today’s summit, which Mr Zelensky will address virtually, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg demanded Russia stop its “nuclear sabre-rattling”.

His warning came as fears have grown that Putin may deploy nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict after the Kremlin has refused to rule out their use, and Russian pundits in the nation’s state media talk openly of a nuclear attack.

Experts are concerned that the Kremlin strongman may resort to nuclear warfare in Ukraine as Russian advances in the country stall, and he becomes increasingly isolated.

A Russian political expert, who has analysed the current conflict, told Express.co.uk that Putin has “no choice” but to raise the stakes in Ukraine because he has become a “hostage” to his decision to invade the country.

Professor Nikolai Petrov is a senior research fellow on the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House and an expert in Kremlin decision-making in Putin’s Russia.

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He said: “I sense that now Putin is a hostage of the decision he made.

“So, there is no choice, and this makes a very serious difference.

“Until this decision, Putin all the time was trying to avoid any moves, which would cut off any other options.

“Now it looks like there is no choice, he should increase his pressure on Ukraine, because he did already pay a huge price, which is much bigger than could have been imagined before making this move.

“But now in order to justify all these losses, he needs to get something in order to demonstrate to the elites that there are not only costs, but there are some benefits.”

Prof Petrov warned that Putin will not be able to face a humiliating drawdown and will therefore persist in the war, even amid heavy losses of Russian troops, in a bid to appease Moscow’s powerful business elites.

Oligarchs in the country have grown increasingly agitated with the Kremlin in recent weeks as the Russian economy continues to be crippled by sanctions in response to the war and the value of the rouble plunges.

Prof Petrov believes Putin will ultimately get what he wants in Ukraine, which may be an assurance that the country will not join NATO.

He said: “In my view, the war should be stopped as soon as possible.

“We can say that Ukraine did already win in a moral sense, but it cannot win militarily because its forces are very disproportionate.

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“The West is not eager to intervene, which is very rational not to take this risk of war between NATO and Russia with the nuclear war and everything else.

“Ukraine should do its best in order to make any agreement in order to reach a kind of compromise to get a ceasefire and push Russian troops out of Ukraine.”

The expert claimed that European leaders alone would not be able to stop Putin and would require the support of the US.

He said: “I don’t think it can be done by Europeans in general.

“It can be done only by the United States. The Europeans could somehow moderate, but they cannot stop this war in my view.

“So, it is not a problem of moderation now. It is a problem of making serious, painful and unpopular decisions.

“And I am afraid that nobody out of the Western leaders is in position to make these unpopular decisions given in mind public opinion of the West.”

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