Putin faces 'serious challenge' as Ukraine’s 'offensive potential' escalates

Putin faces 'serious challenge' as Ukraine’s 'offensive potential' escalates

Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing high "political risks" as Ukraine's "offensive potential" increases, The Washington Post reports.

Per The Post, Ukrainian military officials are preparing to "dislodge Russia from territory it illegally seized last year."

This comes just one week after Ukraine's successfully carried out a drone attack against Moscow, and Putin and the Kremlin failed to retaliate.

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin issues 'dirty bomb' threat following Moscow drone strike: report

A source familiar with the matter told The Post, "This determines the main worry of the Russian leadership," adding, "If contemporary weapons will be supplied and the Ukrainian army will be modernized, then — even without formal membership — Ukraine in this form can represent an existential threat for Russia."

The Post reports:

There is nervousness among the Russian elite over the firepower of Ukraine's Western weaponry, insiders say, and it is driving fears that the land bridge Moscow carved across the southeast of Ukraine to Crimea could be severed — dealing significant military and morale setbacks to the Kremlin.

The Post also notes earlier this week, "Western proposals emerged for long-term security agreements for Ukraine," which ultimately "would provide Kyiv with guaranteed arms supplies over a multiyear period as an alternative to immediate NATO membership."

Meanwhile, Russia's Wagner Group chief "Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview earlier this week, he's 'afraid' Russian military forces 'might get the vile idea of throwing a small nuclear bomb on their own territory,'" New York Post reports.

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin commanding 'much less respect' as war 'not shaping up' for Russia

In the same vein, Kremlin political consultant Sergei Markov said, "infighting among factions in the elite around Putin 'could spiral out of control."

Tatyana Stanovaya, the founder of political analysis firm R-Politik, said, "The mood is very gloomy among the elite. "They don't understand what Putin's plans are and doubt whether he is adequately dealing with the situation. This has been going on for a long time, but the worry is building up."

Earlier this month, Konstantin Zatulin, a top member of the Russian parliament, according to The Post, "declared at a conference on the future of Ukraine that Russia had so far failed in all of its war aims and that some of them had become 'senseless.'"

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet noted in an op-ed for The Hill earlier this month, "Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defiantly" declared "a decision had been made concerning the timing of Ukraine's counteroffensive," adding, "The head games continue — real and imagined, including action, reaction, counteraction — only this time, it is Ukraine dictating the conditions."

A "well-connected member of Russian diplomatic circles" toldThe Post "this is a serious challenge for the authorities," as many "are raising questions over whether Putin can control the situation, according to several members of the Russian elite, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal."

READ MORE: Putin struggles to recover from 'most significant' attack on Russia 'since the Second World War'

The Washington Post's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

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