Race to overthrow Putin has started

Putin gives a New Year's message flanked by soldiers

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This former loyalist is former Russian defence minister Igor Strelkov, a man who played a key role in Putin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014.

In a video statement he said that the fight for the “political olympus” has already begun.

The political olympus Strelkov talks of us Vladimir Putin’s job.

Among those fighting for this position, says Strelkov is head of the Wagner private army Yevgeny Prigozhin.

He alleges that Prigozhin is going head to head with allies of current defence minister, Sergein Shoigu.

Other potential candidates include ex-head of the FSB Nikolai Patrushev who currently sits as secretary of the security council, it is these men who Strelkov believes could move to remove Putin.

On Prigozhin, Strelkov said he is aiming to become a political force of his own and has started securing coverage in the state media amid speculation he would like the job of defence minister.

Strelkov also had words to say on the current situation in Ukraine and how Putin could salvage the situation by mobilising an extra half a million men.

However, he added that political infighting rather than the actual fighting may now be taking precedence: “The grouping of Yevgeny Prigozhin stands against groupings which includes Sergei Shoigu. They have already started the fight.

“They are not fighting over the number of shells… Now we are speaking about what comes after Putin. Will it happen in one year or two? We don’t know.”

Strelkov said of Prigozhin he “stands against the grouping which Shoigu either heads or belongs to”.

He said: “They have already started to fight. It was like a ‘feudal’ battle. The military crisis led to a power crisis.

“In turn the power crisis will deepen the military crisis.

“And it’ll keep going down the spiral, unless urgent measures I mentioned earlier are taken.”

On future mobilisations he said: “They will be forced to have it – a second and then perhaps a third wave.

“To win in Ukraine we would need about half a million more soldiers.”

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However, men alone will not win Putin’s war. Sending in untrained troops is just more cannon fodder for Ukraine’s well trained army and more lost sons, fathers, nephews, uncles, and brother’s for Russia’s civilian population.

Nevertheless, Putin seeks to mobilise at least two million more men this year either to go to the front or to military linked industries.

First to be called up will be in debt to their ex-wives, a move potentially set to come into action next month.

Whether this has an impact is not yet known, what is certain is that Ukraine’s morale and desire to push Russia off every inch of sovereign territory is undimmed.

As the first anniversary of the beginning of the war draws nearer and the mercury continues to remain glued below zero, what is certain is the war continues to remain as hot as ever.

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