NATO ‘active’ in supporting war with weaponry expert
The stark claim comes as they warn he will not be satisfied with territorial gains in eastern Ukraine, and will return “after a period of consolidation” to mount a new offensive in Moldova and possibly Poland. Last night separate sources revealed Russia already has detailed plans to invade Moldova – which it shelved when it failed to take Western Ukraine.
The information is said to have been briefed by a senior serving Russian Air Force official who has been instrumental in helping Ukraine and the West to gauge what level of weaponry is needed to counter separate Russia offensives in Ukraine.
“The plan was that, following a quick victory over Ukraine, the door would be wide open for a follow-up operation involving Moldova,” said a Whitehall intelligence source.
“The night invasion plan involved two Rifle Brigades moving over the border, backed by a massive low-level attack by several Russian Air Force squadrons
“Whether it is still relevant following stiff resistance from Ukraine forces is open to question.”
Mysterious explosions this week in Transnistria – the breakaway territory in Moldova which boasts 1,500 Russian troops – caused speculation that Moscow was preparing to make a move on Moldova’s capital, Chisnau.
But analysts believe Russia doesn’t have enough soldiers for this while it is engaged in Donbas, and dismissed the attacks as a way of persuading Ukrainian forces to remain in the west.
Following its failure to achieve a lightning strike against Kyiv’s government, Russian forces are now aiming to establish a land corridor from Donbas all the way to Moldova, which would cut off the rest of Ukraine from the sea.
Sources revealed Russia already has detailed plans to invade Moldova
This operation is expected to be completed within six months though, privately, Russian generals are already conceding they will not be able to take the strategic port of Odesa following the sinking of the flagship Moskva.
“We expect to have established a land corridor to the outskirts of Odesa by Christmas. This is something Putin will never give up,” said one recently-retired commander from his home in Crimea last night.
“But this will not be the end of the story. It is already clear from what is being discussed at the highest levels that Putin has a second campaign in mind.”
The shape of that conflict will “depend on Nato”, he said.
“The thinking today is that if Nato increases its presence in Romania and Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast, Russia will challenge it to prompt a conclusion.
“This will continue efforts to take Odesa and, from there, to enter Transnistria and then Moldova, allowing a joining of Russian forces from Belarus. “
He added: “It may also mean entering Poland or Lithuania to secure a bridge to Kaliningrad.
“These aims are based on a firm belief that Nato lacks the moral courage to use nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, Putin does not. Many of us are privately concerned at this level of escalation.”
Putin has threatened “lightning-fast” retaliation against nations that intervene in his faltering invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking in St Petersburg last week, he warned: “We have all the tools for this, and we will use them if necessary.”
The comments have been taken as a reference to tactical nuclear weapons, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is reported to be taking the threat seriously.
“We have to understand that Russia has a different approach to nuclear weapons to us,” said Bob Seely, the Tory MP for the Isle of Wight, a former soldier and an expert in Russian military strategy. “So many assessments before this war have proved wrong. Russia miscalculated. So did Ukraine. We miscalculated too. We have to ensure we don’t miscalculate again now.”
And the great-granddaughter of ex-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev yesterday said Russia and the West are closer to nuclear war than during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Nina Khrushcheva said despite a “war of words”, both President John F Kennedy and her great-grandfather agreed to de-escalate as soon as there was a real threat of nuclear action in 1962.
But of the current situation she said: “I don’t see today any side, particularly the Russian side, backing off, and that’s what really scares me the most.”
Ms Khrushcheva’s words come as Russian state TV broadcast a provocative simulation of a nuclear missile strike on London, Paris and Berlin.
Hosts on Russia One’s 60 Minutes said the cities could be hit within 200 seconds of nuclear missiles being launched.
In a separate broadcast 60 minutes host Olga Skabeeva – dubbed the “Iron Doll of Putin TV” and married to pro-Kremlin Russian MP, Evgenii Popov – announced that World War Three had already started.
“They declared war against us, what else are we waiting for – we’ll have to conduct a special operation to demilitarise Nato,” she said.
Last week’s meeting of 40 countries at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany was referred to as a “collective Hitler”.
And in prime time show “The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov”, the head of Russia Today (RT) Margarita Simonyan said: “Either we lose in Ukraine or the Third World War starts. I think World War Three is more realistic. Knowing our leader Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the most incredible outcome that all this will end with a nuclear strike seems more probable to me than the other course of events.”
Host Vladimir Solovyov then added: “But we will go to heaven, while they will simply croak.”
Speaking last night, Russia expert Dr Jade McGlynn of the Henry Jackson Society think tank said: “What’s really disturbing about this casual mention of nuclear war and World War Three on Russian TV is that it has government approval.
“It shows how militarised Russian society has become, and the extent to which many in Russia view this as an existential war.”
Viktorija Starych-Samuolienė, of the Council on Geostrategy, added: “People think this war started in February. Actually, it started in 2008 with Russia’s invasion of Georgia and continued in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and incursion into Eastern Ukraine
“What we are witnessing is a continuation of deeply-held political objectives which have never changed.”