Putin on verge of declaring all-out war on Ukraine as he mobilises more forces
VLADIMIR Putin was last night on the verge of declaring all-out war on Ukraine as he prepares to mobilise more forces to step up his merciless assault.
The Russian president has previously referred to the invasion only as a “special military operation”.
But he is now expected to openly use the word “war” and unleash fresh hell on civilians already pounded by indiscriminate bombing.
Military sources said he was planning to use his country’s Victory Day Parade in Red Square on May 9 to announce mass-mobilisation, enabling him to call up more men to fight.
The tyrant’s hopes of announcing a victory to cheering crowds at the march-past have been dashed by Ukraine’s resistance.
His second-wave assault on Donbas is killing countless soldiers in artillery duels but making little progress.
As a result, Putin is under growing pressure from generals to unleash an all-out war, with fears growing he will respond with renewed brutality.
Russian top brass are furious about their humiliating defeat around Kyiv and they blame puffy-faced Putin — who is rumoured to be sick — for putting constraints on operations.
They want permission to blitz more targets in Ukraine, including high-profile government buildings.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he expected Putin to use his May 9 address to declare “war with the world’s Nazis”.
Mr Wallace told LBC: “He is probably going to declare on May Day 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 and keep the momentum pushing them back.”
Declaring war would let Moscow mobilise fighting-age men to replenish their damaging battlefield losses.
Ukraine claims it has killed more than 23,000 Russian soldiers and destroyed more than 1,000 tanks, 2,400 armoured vehicles and 345 aircraft.
Western officials have claimed one in four Russian units is no-longer “combat effective” because of their devastating losses.
The Ministry of Defence said Russia had been “forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from the failed advances in north-east Ukraine”.
It added; “Many of these units are likely suffering from weakened morale.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian troops were turning the Donbas region “into ruins”.
He said: “In Donbas, the occupiers are doing everything to destroy any life in this area.
“Constant brutal bombings, constant Russian strikes at infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to make this area uninhabited.
“Absolutely everything is being decided in this war.”
He warned if Russia succeeded in Donbas it would become like Mariupol, which he called a “concentration camp in the middle of ruins”.
Mr Zelensky said the Russians were worse than the Nazis, who occupied eastern Europe 80 years ago, because they were lying about their atrocities.
Hopes of finding a way to evacuate civilians have been dashed day after day, as Russia insists the only way to leave is into Russian territory.
Putin’s troops have also established so-called filtration camps where civilians trying to flee are checked to see if they have served in the government, police or military.
Elsewhere, the bodies of three more men were discovered in a pit in liberated Bucha, near Kyiv.
Officials said their hands and feet had been tied and there was evidence of torture.
A residential area was seen lying in smoking ruins yesterday following Russian bombardment.
Aerial photographs show apartment blocks and homes destroyed, some still smouldering and blackened by fire, at Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Meanwhile, a Russian missile struck the airport in Odesa, while Moscow said its armed forces had hit 17 Ukrainian military facilities yesterday.