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'Putin's gamble didn't pay off' Russian president mocked as powerplay backfires




Reports suggested a war between Ukraine and Russia would break out imminently this week, but Moscow has said it is puling troops away from the country’s border. While fears of conflict remain high, an expert has suggested pressure from Mr Putin on the West failed, sparking the reported back-down.

Mr Putin wanted assurances Ukraine will not join the Western NATO military alliance because he sees any expansion of it as a threat to Russia.

Jörg Forbrig, director for Central and Eastern Europe at the think tank German Marshall Fund of the United States, said the leader’s nerves “seem to be a bit frayed”.

He said: “During the visits of Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, he did not look like a sovereign leader.

“His calculation to push through maximum demands in the West with the aggression against Ukraine has failed.

“Hence the first signals of a possible de-escalation from the Kremlin.

“This time Putin’s gamble probably didn’t pay off. But he will continue to try regularly.”

Speaking to German news site, Mr Forbrig also said however “there are no clear signs that Russia has actually withdrawn” from Ukraine.

While February 16 passed without an invasion, the expert added: “Aggressions against Ukraine, whether major or minor, remain a possibility.

“This drama has been underlined not least by the information policy on the part of the USA and some other Nato partners in recent days and weeks.

“This was certainly also about conveying the acute danger of war in Eastern Europe to rather hesitant Western countries, including Germany. People wanted to shake up politics and the public in this country.”

READ MORE: Russia-Ukraine LIVE: ‘Explosion’ panic as fire breaks out in Donetsk

The expert also suggested Mr Putin and Russia want “to maintain its immediate neighbourhood as a sphere of influence and to have a say in the domestic and foreign policy development of its neighbours”.

Mr Forbrig then added: “The West cannot accept this restriction of countries’ sovereignty.

“This is not so much about Ukraine’s or other neighbours’ membership in NATO or the EU – neither of which is on the agenda.

“Russia sees its authoritarian status quo challenged when its neighbours develop in a sovereign and democratic way.

“Putin defends his own dictatorship – and by all means.”


Mr Putin said on Tuesday Russia had decided “to partially pull back troops” from Ukraine’s borders.

In a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, on Wednesday, the Russian leader said “of course” he does not want war, but added NATO had so far failed to address Russia’s “basic” security concerns.

On Thursday, a Kremlin spokesman also said certain phases of military drills near Ukraine and in Crimea are nearing their end and those troops will then return to their bases.

The spokesman said it takes “weeks” to deploy forces for military exercises and returning troops back to their bases afterwards “cannot be done in a day”.

He said the Russian defence ministry has a “clear timetable” to withdraw forces after the war games but did not give details.

The Kremlin spokesman also said he hopes people will not believe “fake reports” about a possible Russian invasion date.

However, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said the US has seen some Russian forces inching closer to the Ukrainian border and they are stocking up on blood.

Speaking at the UN Security Council, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said Russia is “patently failing to live up to the international commitments that it has made around military transparency”.

It comes after US President Joe Biden warned on Thursday morning a Russian attack on Ukraine could begin in the coming days.

He said there was a “very high” risk of conflict, and added: “It’s very high because they have not moved any of their troops out.

“They have moved more troops in, number one. Number two, we have reason to believe they are engaged in a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in.

“Every indication we have is they are prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine.”

Mr Austin also said the US remains concerned Russia may attempt to create a ‘false flag’ pretext for invasion by staging attacks on its own territory or forces which it would blame on Ukraine or the West.

Additional reporting from Monika Pallenberg



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'This is huge' Swedish Air Force jet deployed over Belarus border in threat to Putin




The Scandinavian country is not a member of NATO, but could be ready to trade in its neutral status in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

News of Stockholm’s decision to send a jet was revealed by twitter user Jamming.

They wrote: “Swedish Air Force Korpen active over Poland border area with Belarus.

“Sweden part of surveillance of Belarus and Ukraine!!!

“This is a huge political statement! Update on SwAF Korpen.”


The Gulfstream IV aircraft was tracked taking off from Linking airport and then flying towards the city of Grodno in western Belarus.

It was flying at an altitude of just under 12,000 metres at a speed of 836 kilometres per hour.

Although Sweden is not a NATO member, it is an “enhanced opportunity partner” of the military alliance.

The government also signed a statement in 2018 pledging to strengthen its defence cooperation.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson rejected calls by opposition parties earlier this month for the country to join NATO.

She argued that such a move would further destabilise Europe.

Her statement came in the wake of threats from Moscow that NATO membership would bring “serious military-political consequences” for Sweden.

However, there is growing public support among Swedes for their country to join the transatlantic military alliance.

A poll conducted in late February by broadcaster SVT found that 41 percent of the public supported NATO membership, while thirty-five percent were against.

It was the first time an opinion study in Sweden had found more people in favour of the country joining NATO than were against it.



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Putin humiliated: Russia tries and fails to capture defiant Ukraine village for tenth time




Russia has tried and failed to capture the village of the Chornobaevka ten times, according to Ukrainian presidential adviser Aleksey Arestovich. Videos shared by Ukrainian officials online showed the “tenth defeat of the Russian invaders in Chornobaevka”. The continued failures to capture the village comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last night that his country’s forces had “dealt powerful blows” to the Russian military.

Mr Arestovich told a press conference that Russian troops had tried to take Chornobaevka for the tenth time, but the assault again ended in failure.

Following this, the head of the nearby Mykolaiv Regional State Administration Vitaly Kim published a video showing “the defeat” as explosions erupt on the outskirts of the village.

The resolute village has become famous in Ukraine for its defence, as President Zelensky commended Chornobaivka last weekend for fending off six invasions at the time.

He said: “Ukrainian Chornobaivka will go down in war history. This is a place where the Russian military and their commanders have shown themselves for who they truly are – incompetent, capable of simply handing over their people for slaughter.

“Our military has annihilated the invaders near Chornobaivka six times.

“Six times, yet they keep coming back.”

JUST IN: Putin on brink of major RETREAT in Kyiv

Online users ridiculed the latest Russian failures and hailed the Ukrainian defiance, with one Reddit user remarking: “At some point, I think every military intelligence outfit looking at this must be wondering how bad the rot is in the Russian military.”

One user visavillem added: “So this is the 10th time. Are Russians trying to bait Ukrainians to waste ammo with some obsolete/broken equipment, or are they really so stupid, that they keep stepping on the same rake again and again?”

Another user on Reddit adfgqert posted: “The Ukrainian people have resolve and determination that is beyond what I think is normal.

“Beyond inspirational and they bring fighting for what they believe in to a new level for me.” 

This comes amid ongoing setbacks for Russian military forces in the south of the country.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Russia had withdrawn most of its helicopters from a strategic airport in Kherson, in southern Ukraine, according to satellite images.

Kherson has also been the site of several local protests against the occupying Russian soldiers.

The official said: “We can’t corroborate exactly who is in control of Kherson but the point is, it doesn’t appear to be as solidly in Russian control as it was before.

“That would make it very, very difficult for them to make any kind of ground movement on Odesa.

“That would be a significant development, no question about that, in terms of the southern part of the war.” 


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