Exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has revealed that Russia’s military top brass has warned Putin that “they cannot do the tasks assigned.” The Kremlin has already withdrawn forces from northern Ukraine amid stubborn resistance from the Ukrainian armed forces.
Mr Khodorkovsky told CNN: “Of course, there are people that do have some influence on his mental perceptions, people such as [Russian financier] Yury Kovalchuk and those people who are around Yury Kovalchuk.
“The military can tell Putin and they are telling him now that we, in current conditions cannot do the tasks that we’ve been assigned.
“Putin has to take that into account.
“But the decision is made by him, of course.”
The UK is set to step up the supply of arms to Ukraine after Kyiv pleaded for greater firepower to fight back against the Russian invasion.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK is “certainly looking at what more military assistance we can give” as Nato allies considered how to bolster Ukraine’s resistance.
Ukrainian generals have visited the UK to see some of the kit that could potentially be offered, including armoured vehicles which could offer troops protection from Russian attack as they move around the war zone.
Mr Johnson said Vladimir Putin’s forces have engaged in a “systematic slaughter of innocent people” in Ukraine and the world is now overwhelmingly on the side of Kyiv.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK is “stepping up” the supply of arms, as she joined Nato counterparts in Brussels to hear the demands from Ukraine for more equipment.
Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged that Ukraine urgently needs more weapons as he appeared alongside Kyiv’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.
He said he is “certain that we will address the need” for more air defence systems, anti-tank missiles, and “heavier weapons”.
The Czech Republic has reportedly sent Soviet-era tanks and personnel carriers to Ukraine, and The Times suggested the UK is also drawing up plans to supply armoured vehicles to help resist Russian forces.
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“In the face of Putin’s appalling aggression in Ukraine, the G7 and Nato are stepping up our efforts on sanctions and on weapons,” Ms Truss said at Nato headquarters.
“The UK is now banning all imports of Russian energy, we are sanctioning more banks, and we are stepping up our supply of weapons to Ukraine.”
Nato allies fear that Russia’s decision to withdraw from areas around Kyiv will allow Mr Putin to concentrate his offensive in Ukraine’s east.
Mr Kuleba told reporters at the alliance’s headquarters: “My agenda is very simple, it has only three items on it: weapons, weapons, and weapons.”