Putin ‘likely concerned’ over support among ‘dangerous’ Russian elites

Vladimir Putin says threat of nuclear weapons is 'growing'

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The US-based defense think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), has examined the latest rhetoric coming from Putin’s Kremlin regarding the war in Ukraine. ISW analysis believes Putin’s Christmas Day speech was a reaction to concerns that Russian elites are not fully behind the decision to invade Ukraine.  

In Putin’s address, the Kremlin strongman dismissed those Russians not backing the war as not “true patriots,” this has been taken as a swipe at a lack of war fervor among some powerful oligarchs. 

The ISW report said: “Putin’s statements are also consistent with the Russian State Duma’s preparations to introduce a bill to increase tax rates for Russians who had left the country after the start of the ‘special military operation,’ likely as a form of punishment for evading the war effort.

“The Kremlin will likely use funds generated through the tax to fund its war in Ukraine.”

ISW also commented on Putin’s stated willingness to “negotiate with all parties” over Ukraine.

They wrote: “Putin did not explicitly state that Russia was ready to negotiate directly with Ukraine, instead maintaining his false narrative that Ukraine—which he simply called the ‘the other side’—had violated Russia’s pre-invasion diplomatic efforts.

“Putin’s discussions of negotiations have focused on putative discussions with the West rather than with Ukraine, and reflect his continual accusations that Ukraine is merely a Western pawn with no real agency. This statement was not a departure from that rhetorical line.”

Putin said in the state television interview, excerpts of which were released on Sunday afternoon, that Russia is “prepared to negotiate some acceptable outcomes with all the participants of this process.”

He said that “it’s not us who refuse talks, it’s them” — something the Kremlin has repeatedly stated in recent months as its 10-month-old invasion kept losing momentum.

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Putin also repeated that Moscow has “no other choice” and said he believed the Kremlin was “acting in the right direction.”

He said: “We’re defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister on Tuesday warned Ukraine that it must demilitarize, threatening further military action and falsely accusing Kyiv and the West of fueling the war that started with Moscow’s invasion.

Sergey Lavrov said Ukraine must remove any military threat to Russia — otherwise “the Russian army (will) solve the issue.” His comments also reflected persistent unfounded claims by the Kremlin that Ukraine and its Western allies were responsible for the 10-month war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

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Russia launched the war on February 24, alleging a threat to its security and a plot to bring NATO to its doorstep.

Lavrov reiterated on Tuesday that the West was feeding the war in Ukraine to weaken Russia, and said that it depends on Kyiv and Washington how long the conflict will last.

Lavrov told the state Tass news agency: “As for the duration of the conflict, the ball is on the side of the (Kyiv) regime and Washington that stands behind its back,

“They may stop senseless resistance at any moment.”

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