Ukraine: Mariupol 'has been encircled by troops' says Mayor
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On Wednesday night, Russian forces seized Kherson, a key port city in southern Ukraine. This makes Kherson the first major city to be taken by Russia, after heavy fighting began with Putin’s invasion last Thursday. The city’s mayor, Igor Kolykhaev, said Russia’s troops had made their way into the city’s council building and were forcing a curfew upon Kherson’s residents.
Meanwhile, concern is mounting over the movements of a huge column of Russian military vehicles outside Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
Though a US defence official suggested it has seemingly “stalled”, there is mounting speculation that around 15,000 troops attached to it may be regrouping and readying themselves for an assault on the nation’s capital.
Critics have speculated about Putin’s mental state since the Russian President’s reckless and ruthless invasion of his country’s neighbour.
He justified the invasion with the false claims that the government in Kyiv has been seized by “extreme nationalists and neo-Nazis”, despite the country’s Jewish President Volodymyr Zelensky having lost relatives in the holocaust.
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However, Germany’s former Chancellor Angela Mekel allegedly believed that Putin “lost touch with reality” years ago, after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
The New York Times described a phone conversation after Putin’s 2014 move, and claimed: “Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told [former US President Barack] Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality.”
The publication claimed that Ms Merkel described Putin as being “in another world”.
On the claims, German publication Bild added: “When leaders talk on the phone what follows are well-formulated official statements.
“The public rarely finds out what was really discussed and whether there were curses, jokes, threats or blasphemies.
“The New York Times report of what Angela Merkel said in a phone call on the Ukraine crisis with Barack Obama shows one thing: the Western world’s disgust at Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Officially, Obama and Merkel agreed Putin’s intervention in Crimea violated international law.
“But Merkel apparently used forceful language, even curses, in her conversation with the US President.”
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Speculation has been rife in the past week as to whether Putin is mentally deteriorating, with some quarters claiming that two years of coronavirus-related isolation has changed the President’s mental state for the worse.
On Tuesday, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi threw cold water on such claims.
Ms Pelosi did however mention she had heard speculation that Putin had cancer or COVID-19-related brain fog.
The Speaker told MSNBC: “Some people say he has cancer, and some people say brain fog from Covid.
“Other people just think he’s a complete raging bully. But whatever it is the people of Ukraine are paying the price for it.
“This is highly unacceptable to civilised human behaviour, for Putin to go in there and attack civilian sites, to make up stories about them.
“You would hope that there would be someone in Russia who would be checking on him.”
Meanwhile, US Senator Marco Rubio suggested something “is off” with Putin, following the brutal invasion of Ukraine.
The Republican Senator from Florida wrote on Twitter: “I wish I could share more, but for now I can say it’s pretty obvious to many that something is off with Putin.
“He has always been a killer, but his problem now is different and significant.
“It would be a mistake to assume this Putin would react the same way he would have five years ago.”
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