, officials have suggested that Vladimir Putin may use the May 9 holiday to repackage the war in Ukraine. Dramatic options include escalation through a formal declaration of war or general mobilisation – or de-escalating by proclaiming victory. Alternatively, Putin could offer up a “sandwich”, as one analyst put it, that praises the Russian army’s “victory” while preparing the population for a grinding and painful conflict as status quo. Ukrainian officials in particular have warned that Putin is planning to announce a mass mobilisation, or even to declare war against Ukraine, calling up personnel and resources that were untapped under Russia’s so-called “special operation” that began on 24 February.“Russia has already moved to covert mobilisation and is preparing to announce open mobilisation in the near future,” said Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, in an interview this week with the Ukrainian news outlet New Times. “I’m quite curious: how will they explain this to their own people?”
Andrew Roth THE OBSERVER for THE GUARDIAN
Since the beginning of the millennium, when Vladimir Putin took power in Russia, authoritarian leaders have come to dominate global politics. Self-styled strongmen have risen to power in Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, Brasilia, Budapest, Ankara, Riyadh and Washington.
stigating direct conflict with Russia.
In his desperation to achieve some semblance of a victory in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to employ far from conventional military force to achieve his aims.
The Russian president began the conflict by threatening to cut off Europe’s energy supply if it continued providing military support to Ukraine; a form of blackmail he has subsequently applied against Finland following Helsinki’s decision this week to apply for Nato membership.
gth to his henchmen who think he’s not been tough enough in Ukraine and to warn the plotters in Moscow that he will stop at nothing to hold onto power, no matter how many must die in the process.
His intended annexation of the areas of Ukraine now occupied by Russia means he could lawfully use nuclear weapons to defend them as they will formally be part of the Russian Federation. The fact that no other country will recognise Moscow’s sovereignty is beside the point – seen from the Kremlin, an attack on these areas with Nato munitions will be an attack on Russia itself.
Alexander Ponomarenko, who is on a UK sanctions list, purchased a whole floor at One Hyde Park in 2011, through an offshore company, it is understood.
A second oligarch, now under sanctions, bought an apartment registered through a UK-registered company, for his then teenage son amid inevitable questions over how a 19-year-old could afford a property costing £29 million. The block was developed by Nick Candy, a Conservative Party donor, and his brother Christian.
Mr Ponomarenko, 57, who made his fortune in banking and shipping and is the joint owner of Moscow’s biggest airport, was placed under UK sanctions in March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The asset freeze prevents Mr Ponomarenko visiting the UK and bars any business here from dealing with him.
tions, said: "President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable."
Liz Truss, Britain's Foreign Secretary, had earlier warned any use by Russia of its tactical battlefield nuclear weapons against Ukrainian forces would represent an "extremely serious escalation" of the conflict. On Monday morning, Ben Wallace, the UK's Defence Secretary, accused Russia of posturing.
"We've looked at their posture. There isn't a significant change," he said on LBC radio, adding that the Russian leader was trying to "flex muscles" with his invasion of Ukraine bogged down. Mr Wallace said he had assured his 12-year-old son: "No, we're not going to have a nuclear war. "What I've said to him is, look, President Putin is dealing at the moment in a rhetoric, he wants to distract from what's gone wrong in Ukraine, and he wants us all to be reminded that he has a nuclear deterrent." However The Nato Chief, Jens Stoltenberg, said: "This is dangerous rhetoric and irresponsible behaviour on Putin's part."
e launch, Boris, and England is gone,” he said. “Once and for all. Why play with us?”
Putin may also hint at the potential for nuclear conflict as he stands before the heavy weaponry, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, that he returned to the Red Square parade in 2008.
“He also knows that we’re going to be listening to him, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some nuclear rhetoric in there as well,” said the CNA’s Edmonds. He said he remained sceptical that Russia could use a tactical nuclear weapon in the conflict, but like others noted that the Kremlin has become more unpredictable. “If Putin sees this as becoming existential, then all bets are off the table.”
Seeing the limited potential for victory, Putin could also seek to de-escalate the conflict. Standing before his military and the country on Monday, Putin could announce that Russia has achieved its major war aims in Ukraine by allegedly destroying Ukrainian military capacity, and by taking near control of several mid-sized cities such as Mariupol and Kherson. But that may also be a tough sell, as the Ukrainian military could try to retake lost ground, leading to further losses even if Russia stakes a defensive position.
Andrew Roth THE OBSERVER for THE GUARDIAN