Putin warned Russians have ‘no stomach for the fight’ in Ukraine war

Russia’s mobilisation to turn ‘numbers into bodybags’ says expert

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Vladimir Putin has been warned Russians have “no stomach for the fight” in the war with Ukraine, with a retired US Lieutenant General also destroying plans for another huge mobilisation of troops. Putin announced a mass-mobilisation of 300,000 troops in September. At the time it was feared the move could provide a massive boost to an army that had suffered several devastating blows in the war. But it turned out to be a humiliating disaster for Russia, with tens of thousands of people rushing for the borders.

As the first anniversary of the war approaches on February 24, speculation has been building Putin could launch an even bigger mobilisation move – this time of half-a-million troops.

But retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former Commanding General of US Army Europe, has destroyed any such plans, warning Russians have zero interest in joining the fight against Ukraine.

He told Express.co.uk: “There is no bright light on the horizon for Putin. Russia is suffering enormous casualties. Russia is still not able to capture key parts of Ukraine despite spending months trying to do so.

“Mass mobilisation plans of up to 500,000 troops would be a huge disaster – it is simply impossible to move, train, equip and accommodate all of these people.

“The Russian population has no stomach for this fight and absolutely don’t want to be a part of it.”

Lieutenant General Hodges also warned the pressure is now really ramping up on Putin as opposition in Russia against is war in Ukraine continues to intensify.

He concluded: “We are starting to see more Russians criticising him over the Ukraine war plan.

“Putin has spent the last 20 years protecting himself from being a victim of a Russian coup so I can’t see a significant move there as he has a massive security infrastructure that shuts down protests.

“But there is enormous conflict between the various leaders and factions who are wondering what their life is going to be like after Crimea falls and after Ukraine wins.”

Lieutenant General Hodges is also confident Ukraine can “recapture Ukraine by the end of August” in what would be a massive blow to Putin and also a defining moment in the war with Russia. 

He added: “You will see a significant move that will help isolate Crimea, which is the decisive terrain. Once they can get Crimea, then the other stuff can wait and will follow. A decisive stroke would be to isolate Crimea.

“Ukraine could recapture Crimea by the end of August. There are two routes connecting Crimea to the mainland and if you could sever those with long-range fire, then Crimea looks increasingly like a trap.

“You can then start hitting the very vulnerable Russian infrastructure on the Crimean peninsula. By going after Russian headquarters and infrastructure, that will neutralise the Russian advantage.

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“Ukraine has been very wise in going after various headquarters, transportation and ammunition storage facilities. When you start hitting those, you really hamstring Russia’s ability to do anything.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired British Army officer who served for nearly 30 years, has warned Putin could be hit by a Russian coup and faces a “very bleak future” if he doesn’t score a “significant” war victory soon.

He said while there is “relative inactivity” in terms of fighting between Russia and Ukraine, “both sides are preparing major offensives in the coming weeks, and possibly months”.

In a huge warning to the Russian President, the retired British Army officer told Express.co.uk: “We have Putin mobilising his forces, getting ready to send them into Ukraine – some are already there to give him a much-needed significant boost than he has had up until now to try and smash the Ukrainian army.

“This could be Putin’s last roll of the dice. The Ukrainians have taken a huge hit, but of course, so has Putin.

“We all know things didn’t work out how we expected or how he conditioned the Russian people to expect, so he has to have a significant victory in the early part of this year if he can achieve it.”

Colonel Kemp further warned: “If Putin can’t achieve that significant victory, it could be a very bleak future for him with the possibility of some kind of coup in Russia against him. He will be very mindful of that possibility.

“Putin remains in a very strong position and still has huge popularity within Russia, despite this war. But we have also seen rumblings from some of the elites within Russia, for example from the head of the Wagner Group.

“The prospects of a popular Russian uprising against Putin are pretty low but the prospect of someone of significance in Moscow or a significant number of people deciding to move against him is possible.”

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