Political Risks Rise for Putin as Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Begins
Questions are growing over what the future may bring
The political risks are rising for Vladimir Putin as the Ukrainian military begins its much-awaited assault to dislodge Russia from territory it illegally seized last year, with the Russian president acknowledging Kyiv's "offensive potential."
There is nervousness among the Russian elite over the firepower of Ukraine’s Western weaponry, insiders say, and it is driving fears that the land bridge Moscow carved across the southeast of Ukraine to Crimea could be severed — dealing significant military and morale setbacks to the Kremlin.
In addition, infighting among battlefield leaders, drone attacks on Moscow, and a spate of unprecedented incursions by paramilitary groups into western Russian regions bordering Ukraine are raising questions over whether Putin can control the situation, according to several members of the Russian elite, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
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