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Vladimir Putin 'playing the long game' with Ukraine: 'Got what he wants'




Russia’s Defence Ministry shares tanks moving back to base

Russia’s defence ministry announced this morning that some troops positioned on the Ukrainian border are returning to their bases. The move raises hopes of a possible de-escalation of the crisis, but it is unclear just how many units are being withdrawn and other large-scale drills are ongoing. Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warned this morning, however, that his country will only believe a Russian withdrawal when they see it.

He told a press conference: “We have a rule: don’t believe what you hear, believe what you see.

“When we see a withdrawal, we will believe in a de-escalation.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet President Vladimir Putin today in a bid to diffuse the situation, while Boris Johnson will chair a Cobra meeting to discuss the UK’s response.

Dr Paul Flenley, an expert in Russian foreign policy and Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Portsmouth, told that the current uncertainty suits Putin and the Kremlin just fine.

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Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin ‘playing the long game’ with Ukraine: ‘Got what he wants’ (Image: GETTY/REUTERS)

Russian military exercises

A Russian tank fires during military exercises in the Leningrad region. (Image: Reuters)

He told “I was thinking recently that it serves Putin not to have a resolution of the situation.

“He’s playing the long game really. The longer it goes on, he’s already got a lot of what he wants — Russia is now back at the top table.

“The Americans, up until this, had largely begun to forget about Russia and were interested in China.

“Now everybody’s visiting Moscow, talking about Russia. So Putin has gone from being ignored and isolated to being in the centre of international politics.

Ukrainian troops patrol along the borderUkrainian troops patrol along the border

Ukrainian troops patrol along the border fence at the Three Sisters border crossing. (Image: GETTY)

“He can keep this running. You’ve got all these exercises and mobilisation of troops, well he can keep doing that.”

One such exercise in the region is the joint Russian-Belarusian Union Resolve war games, due to end on February 20.

Some 30,000 combat troops plus weaponry and other military equipment were sent into Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbour.

Dr Flenley predicted that Putin may be inclined to stand some troops down and return them to their bases, exactly as he has done this morning.

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NATO and its forces up against Russia.

NATO and its forces up against Russia. (Image: Express Newspapers)

He said: “He could just decide, ‘Well, actually, I told you it was just an exercise and I wasn’t going to invade’, so he’ll step them all down and then do it again in a year’s time.

“He can keep doing it. So in some sense it suits him not to have a resolution.

“It’s the West that really wants a resolution and I think he realises that we will tire of this, but he could keep it going.”

He continued: “In terms of Russian defensive policy, it’s advantageous to have these areas of instability on Russia’s borders and these kinds of questions which have not been resolved, because it means Russia has influences.

Russian military exercises

Russian servicemen drive tanks on another military exercise. (Image: Reuters)

“The same is happening in the Caucasus or in Transnistria. The status of Transnistria in Moldova hasn’t been settled, and it suits Russia to have these unresolved situations around its border, because that means it has influence. It can exercise power.”

Russia’s defence ministry today published videos of what it says are tanks moving back to base.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, said: “February 15, 2022 will go into history as the day western war propaganda failed.

“They have been disgraced without a single shot being fired.”

According to the BBC’s chief political correspondent Adam Fleming, Downing Street is waiting to see the scale of this withdrawal.

A source told Mr Fleming that it would only be meaningful if it made a substantial difference to the ability to invade.

Likewise, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told LBC that invasion remains a risk until all troops are removed from the border.

She said: “The Russians have claimed that they have no plans for an invasion, but we will need to see a full scale removal of troops to show that is true.”

The Kremlin has continually deflected invasion speculation, insisting that Russian troops were free to do as they pleased within Russian borders, and accused the West of whipping up “hysteria”.



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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.”

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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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