Generals demand Putin launches all out war on Ukraine as ‘payback’ for losses
VLADIMIR Putin’s furious army chiefs have urged him to launch an all-out war on Ukraine as “payback” over the shambolic invasion, officials have warned.
Russia had expected it could march across Ukraine without much of a fight when troops invaded for a “special operation” in February – but they have faced a valiant resistance and weeks of fighting.
Putin’s army chiefs have become increasingly frustrated with the scaled-down offensive in eastern Ukraine and his handling of the deadly war – with a vicious “blame game” exploding in Moscow.
Military bosses have now urged Putin to drop the term “special operation” used for the invasion and instead declare war on Ukraine – which would enable the mass mobilisation of Russian troops.
An all-out war would allow Moscow to draft in more conscripts, impose martial law and also bid for support from its international allies – such as Belarus.
A source close to Russian military chiefs told The Telegraph: “The military are outraged that the blitz on Kyiv failed.
“People in the army are seeking payback for failures of the past, and they want to go further in Ukraine.”
The UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned Putin could use Russia’s victory day parade on May 9 to announce the mobilisation of his reserves for a final push in Ukraine.
He told LBC: “He is probably going to declare… that we are now at war with the world’s Nazis and we need to mass mobilise the Russian people.
“Putin, having failed in nearly all objectives, may seek to consolidate what he’s got.. and just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country.
“We have to help Ukrainians effectively get the limpet off the rock and keep the momentum pushing them back.”
And ex-Nato chief Richard Sherriff warned the West must “gear itself up” for a “worst case scenario” with Russia in Ukraine.
The editor of the state-owned broadcaster RT Margarita Simonyan said it was “more probable” that Putin would launch a nuclear strike than allow Russia to lose the war.
He told BBC Radio 4: “The worst case is war with Russia. By gearing itself up for the worst case, it is most likely to deter Putin because ultimately Putin respects strength.”
Putin’s top generals are already said to be turning on the tyrant over the invasion as fears of a military coup mount.
The powerful Russian “siloviki” – or security bloc – have reportedly blamed Putin for a “serious error” after retreating from the capital of Kyiv and concentrating on taking control of the Donbas in the east.
Thousands more Russian troops have poured into eastern Ukraine – but they are making limited advances.
Putin’s military chief General Valery Gerasimov is now thought to be heading to the frontline to inject “momentum” and “authority” into the struggling troops.
“There are credible reports that he is going to go forward,” one western official reportedly said.
“In overall terms, it does show the continuing command and control challenges that the Russians are having.”
‘DWARVES IN THE KREMLIN’
Igor Girkin, a retired military intelligence officer who led separatist forces in eastern Ukraine in 2014, has slammed Moscow’s “failures” in Ukraine.
In a post online, he said: “What else has to happen before the dwarves in the Kremlin realise they are in an all-out, harsh war and start to act accordingly?”
And Alexander Arutyunov, a retired Russian commando and usually a pro-Kremlin blogger, said: “Vladimir Vladimirovich, can you please make up your mind: are we fighting or are we playing around?”
The ex-military intelligence commander said: “Strike them all over, completely destroy all their aerodromes.
“Turn them into Moon craters so that not a single plane with a Bayraktar [military drone] can take off.
“We must destroy all their railway lines with missiles of such big size that they spend years repairing them…
“If I understand it, why don’t your top guys get it? This is beyond me.”
Russia analyst Alexey Muraviev has previously warned that Putin faces a potential coup from within his military and intelligence services.
Mr Muraviev told Sky News Australia that the coup may come as they want to try and win the war – not to stop aggression in Ukraine.
He said: “I think that there have been tensions between Russia and the intelligence community and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
“Because clearly, there’s been a clear error of judgment that was made and it was probably driven by Putin himself about the situation in Ukraine.
“About the initial planning and the initial phase of the invasion where the Russian military naturally assume that they’re going there as liberators rather than the invaders.
“I think that sort of false narrative was presented to them by the Supreme Commander in Chief, and when it fired back when the Russians began taking heavy casualties, Putin began quietly blaming the security services.
“Which I don’t think went really well also because he’s coming from within the security apparatus.”
It comes as Britain announced it is sending around 8,000 of its troops – the largest deployment in Europe since the Cold War – to take part in exercises across eastern Europe this summer.
British troops will be joined by tens of thousands of troops from Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force alliance.
Mr Wallace said: “The security of Europe has never been more important.
“These exercises will see our troops join forces with allies and partners across Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force in a show of solidarity and strength in one of the largest shared deployments since the Cold War.”