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Putin 'likely wants to escalate' Ukraine war — Russian leader’s plans picked apart

WorldPutin 'likely wants to escalate' Ukraine war — Russian leader’s plans picked apart

The war in Ukraine has killed more than 2,000 civilians since Russia invaded its former Soviet neighbour, according to the UN. In recent weeks Russia has pulled its troops out of the suburbs of the capital Kyiv and has now focused efforts on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, where a renewed assault is currently underway. It should come as no surprise that Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet given up his so far failed invasion, according to Peter Frankopan, who told Express.co.uk that the leader “wants to escalate” the bloody conflict.

The professor of global history at the University of Oxford said: “With Putin it is very difficult to guess where he is going to go.

“But probably, in my view, on the basis of the last 20 years, is that never bet Putin is going to pick the simplest and easiest way.

“He is much more likely to want to escalate.”

Since fighting started in February fears have grown that Russia could escalate the war, including by using nuclear weapons.

Just days into the invasion, Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces to be put on high alert following a number of sanctions slapped on Russia by the West.

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Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky again warned that Putin may unleash both nuclear and chemical warfare on Ukraine.

He told CNN: “Not only [should I be worried] – but all of the world, all of the countries have to be worried because [while it may not be real information it could be the truth].

“[Russia could use chemical weapons], they could do it, for them the life of the people [is worth] nothing. [That is] why.

“We should think, not be afraid but be ready. That is a question for all the world, not [just] for Ukraine.”

Some analysts have suggested that Russia’s nuclear threats may simply be bold rhetoric as Putin feels increasingly under pressure over his costly invasion.

“It is pretty hard to see through that, particularly when travel to Russia is basically blocked and getting information out reliably is very hard.”

Earlier in the invasion, Russian troops had advanced on Kyiv for several weeks, with bitter fighting reported to have taken place in suburbs of the capital.

However, they were stalled due to Ukrainian resistance, technical problems and other issues like food and fuel shortages.

As Russian troops withdrew from around Kyiv, the scale of devastation left by Putin’s soldiers was laid bare.

Evidence of potential war crimes committed by Russia mounted as the bodies of civilians were found, some of whom had their hands tied behind their backs.

In the town of Bucha outside Kyiv, some 350 bodies were discovered, many of whom were shot, according to local police.

Many of the innocent civilians killed were buried in mass graves.

Zelensky previously said the horrific scenes in Bucha were evidence of “genocide” and “war crimes” committed by Russia.

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