The head of GCHQ has said ‘desperate’ Russian president Vladimir Putin is losing the war with Ukraine both at home and abroad and faces a potential revolt against his leadership as ‘exhausted’ troops run out of supplies and munitions.

Sir Jeremy Fleming, the director of the UK’s intelligence, cyber and security agency, is set to claim the war is badly backfiring in Putin’s home country as fighting age Russians desperately try to avoid being drafted into his ‘war of choice’.

In a speech in London later today, Sir Jeremy will claim that despite claims of an ‘inevitable Russian military victory’ at the start of the war, ‘it’s clear that Ukraine’s courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide’.

The security chief will also claim that ‘Russia’s forces are exhausted’ and it has become reliant on prisoners and inexperienced conscripts to backup depleted numbers on the frontline.

It comes the day after Russia launched its biggest missile barrage on Ukraine since its illegal invasion in February, killing 11 people and injuring scores more in strikes in cities, including the capital Kyiv.

A defiant Volodymyr Zelenksy branded Russia a ‘terrorist state’ after the attack and said it showed the Kremlin is desperate as it is ‘not capable of opposing us on the battlefield’.

In a video taunting his counterpart, President Zelensky said that despite the strikes Ukraine had managed to shoot down half of the missiles and drones aimed at his country, adding his people ‘cannot be intimidated’.

Putin claimed yesterday that the missiles were aimed at military, energy and communications networks, but Ukraine says they actually hit power plants and busy civilian areas.

The attacks are thought to be retaliation for an attack on the Kerch Bridge on Saturday which linked the annexed region of Crimea to the Russian mainland. 

The 12-mile-long bridge was a key part of the Kremlin’s supply chain, and its destruction was a slap in the face for Russian president Vladimir Putin who saw it as a pet project and a symbol of his supremacy in the region.

It came the day before a meeting of the G7 where Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to tell her fellow leaders not to waver in their support of Ukraine following the most recent attacks.

It comes amid concerns that Belarus, the Kremlin’s last-remaining ally in Europe, could be about to join the war to back up Putin after its dictator Alexander Lukashenko announced Russian units would combine with his own and deploy to the Ukraine border.

A defiant Volodymyr Zelensky has branded Russia a 'terrorist state' after it launched missile attacks on Ukrainian cities yesterday

A defiant Volodymyr Zelensky has branded Russia a ‘terrorist state’ after it launched missile attacks on Ukrainian cities yesterday

Sir Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, is set to say Putin has 'misjudged' the situation with Ukraine and is now facing discontent among his own troops

Sir Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, is set to say Putin has ‘misjudged’ the situation with Ukraine and is now facing discontent among his own troops

Russian president Vladimir Putin is facing discontent from troops facing shortages of supplies and munitions as the war in Ukraine rages on

Russian president Vladimir Putin is facing discontent from troops facing shortages of supplies and munitions as the war in Ukraine rages on

The attacks have killed at least 11 people and left scores more injured. Pictured: Burned out cars a result of the strikes in Kyiv yesterday

The attacks have killed at least 11 people and left scores more injured. Pictured: Burned out cars a result of the strikes in Kyiv yesterday

President Zelensky said the strikes show that Russia cannot match Ukraine on the battlefield. Pictured: A man watches smoke rise after a missile attack in Lviv yesterday

President Zelensky said the strikes show that Russia cannot match Ukraine on the battlefield. Pictured: A man watches smoke rise after a missile attack in Lviv yesterday

Some 83 Russian missiles were launched at Ukraine on Monday morning in combination with Iranian drones, striking power stations, water supplies and civilians across the country

83 Russian missiles were launched at Ukraine this morning in combination with Iranian drones, striking power stations, water supplies and civilians across the country – killing at least 11 and wounding scores more

Truss urges world leaders not to waver after strikes 

Liz Truss will urge G7 leaders to remain steadfast in support of Ukraine during crisis talks on Tuesday after Russian strikes on Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities.

The missile and drone barrage was launched by Moscow in retaliation for what Vladimir Putin claimed was a terrorist act carried out by Ukrainian special services on a bridge linking Russia with Crimea.

The Russian attacks, which left at least 11 dead and 64 injured, prompted an international outcry.

G7 leaders will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday, with Ms Truss also expected to call for a full meeting of Nato leaders in the coming days.

The video call will also be attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who spoke to Ms Truss on Monday.

She is expected to urge fellow G7 leaders to ‘stay the course’ in the battle against President Putin.

‘The overwhelming international support for Ukraine’s struggle stands in stark opposition to the isolation of Russia on the international stage,’ she is expected to say on Tuesday.

‘Their bravery in the face of the most brutal acts of violence has earned the people of Ukraine global admiration.

‘Nobody wants peace more than Ukraine. And for our part, we must not waver one iota in our resolve to help them win it.’

G7 leaders are also likely to discuss the global energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion, amid plans to introduce a global cap on the price of Russian oil to target Mr Putin’s revenues.

Ukraine stepped up calls for western allies to provide anti-air and anti-missile systems in response to Monday’s strikes.

Kyiv was targeted for the first time in months, while Russia also hit civilian areas and energy infrastructure across the country, from Kharkiv in the east to Lviv near the Polish border.

Mr Putin confirmed the strikes were retaliation for what he said was Ukraine’s attack on the Kerch Bridge, a crossing between Russia and annexed Crimea that has strategic and symbolic importance.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank later, Sir Jeremy is set to suggest that GCHQ is aware of how badly the war is going for Putin and the Kremlin.

The Telegraph reports he will say the despot has ‘failed in two major military strategies already’ and has ‘hit the courageous reality of Ukrainian defence’.

He will say: ‘With little effective internal challenge, his decision-making has proved flawed. It’s a high-stakes strategy that is leading to strategic errors in judgement.

‘Their gains are being reversed. The costs to Russia – in people and equipment are staggering.

‘We know – and Russian commanders on the ground know – that their supplies and munitions are running out.

‘Russia’s forces are exhausted. The use of prisoners to reinforce, and now the mobilisation of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts, speaks of a desperate situation.’

He is set to add that Russians have ‘started to understand that’ desperation too and are becoming aware of ‘just how badly Putin has misjudged the situation’. 

He will say: ‘They’re fleeing the draft, realising they can no longer travel.

‘They know their access to modern technologies and external influences will be drastically restricted. And they are feeling the extent of the dreadful human cost of his war of choice.’

His remarks come a day after President Zelenksy vowed to rebuild all that had been destroyed in the latest missile attacks.

In an eight-minute-long video posted on his social media accounts, the comedian-turned-politician said his security forces were able to stop half the missiles and drones sent by Russia from hitting their targets.

He said: ‘Restoration work is currently underway across the country. We will restore all objects that were damaged by today’s attack by Russian terrorists. It’s only a matter of time.

‘Out of 84 Russian missiles launched against Ukraine, 43 were shot down. Out of 24 Russian drones, 13 were shot down. And even after that, every 10 minutes I receive a message about shooting Iranian ‘Shaheds’ down.

‘Therefore, follow the safety rules and pay attention to the air alarm. The danger is still there. But we are fighting. I am grateful to our Air Forces and Ground Forces units that were involved today!

‘Ukraine cannot be intimidated. We united even more instead. Ukraine cannot be stopped. We are convinced even more that terrorists must be neutralised. Now the occupiers are not capable of opposing us on the battlefield already, that is why they resort to this terror. Well, we’ll make the battlefield even more excruciating for the enemy. And we will restore everything that was destroyed.

‘Believe in yourself, in Ukraine, in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and in our victory! Glory to Ukraine!’

KYIV: A rescuer helps an injured woman at the site of shelling, which Vladimir Putin said he ordered in response to 'terrorist' attacks on Russia

KYIV: A rescuer helps an injured woman at the site of shelling, which Vladimir Putin said he ordered in response to ‘terrorist’ attacks on Russia

KYIV: A dead body lies in the streets after Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital for the first time in months, setting cars on fire and blowing up a park in a residential area

KYIV: A dead body lies in the streets after Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital for the first time in months, setting cars on fire and blowing up a park in a residential area

KYIV: Firefighters extinguish a burning vehicle as a dead body lies on the street (bottom right) following Russian missile strikes that targeted civilian areas and power stations

KYIV: Firefighters extinguish a burning vehicle as a dead body lies on the street (bottom right) following Russian missile strikes that targeted civilian areas and power stations

KYIV: Cars burn on the streets of the Ukrainian capital on Monday morning after multiple missiles struck the city - the first time in months that it has been hit as Putin exacts revenge for strikes on the Kerch Bridge

KYIV: Cars burn on the streets of the Ukrainian capital this morning after multiple missiles struck the city – the first time in months that it has been hit as Putin exacts revenge for strikes on the Kerch Bridge

DNIPRO: Bodies lie covered in blankets after Russia missiles struck the city in south-central Ukraine as emergency services arrive at the scene

DNIPRO: Bodies lie covered in blankets after Russia missiles struck the city in south-central Ukraine as emergency services arrive at the scene

KYIV: A business centre in the Ukrainian capital that includes offices of South Korean technology giant Samsung were partially destroyed in a missile blast this morning

KYIV: A business centre in the Ukrainian capital that includes offices of South Korean technology giant Samsung were partially destroyed in a missile blast this morning

KYIV: An ambulance worker treats a civilian who was cut by flying shrapnel during a missile strike on the Ukrainian capital

KYIV: An ambulance worker treats a civilian who was cut by flying shrapnel during a missile strike on the Ukrainian capital

At least 11 people were killed and 60 wounded, Ukraine said, with eight of those deaths and 42 injuries in Kyiv alone. Rockets also hit the German consulate, but the building was empty.

A mixture of missiles and Iranian-made suicide drones were used to strike the cities of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine, northern Kharkiv and Sumy, central Zhytomyr and Vinnytsia, and even far-western Ternopil and Lviv, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Some of these cities have not been hit in months.

Dramatic dash cam footage taken in Dnipro shows two of the huge missile strikes hitting a civilian area, causing fiery explosions that sent debris crashing down on cars and pedestrians nearby. 

Putin said he ordered strikes on ‘military, communications, and energy infrastructure’ after what he called ‘terrorist’ attacks by Ukraine – pointing to the Kerch Bridge attack but also accusing Kyiv of bombing one of its own nuclear plants, attacking gas pipes and assassinating officials and journalists.

Putin said: ‘Kyiv’s regime, with its actions, places itself in line with international terrorist organisations. Leaving such crimes without response is impossible. In case of continuing attacks we will respond in [a] harsh manner and in line with [the] level of threats to [the] Russian Federation. Nobody should have any doubt about this.’

In Russia allies of Putin have warned that this is merely the ‘first episode’ of Russia’s revenge for the blast which crippled the Crimean bridge and ‘there will be others’. 

Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president himself, said Ukraine poses ‘a constant, direct and clear’ threat and that the Kremlin should aim to ‘completely dismantle the political regime of Ukraine’ which he described as ‘Nazi’.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the bridge attack and blames Russia for strikes on nuclear infrastructure and gas pipes. Zelensky said today’s missile attacks had targeted power networks, water supplies, and civilians in an attempt to ‘sow terror’. ‘Russia is trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,’ he added.

Oleksii Reznikov, the defence minister, said Ukraine’s courage would never be broken and ‘that the only thing they demolish is the future of [Russia] – a future of a globally despised rogue terrorist state.’

Videos and pictures from the Ukrainian capital showed burning cars and bodies in the streets as officials said rockets hit close to a well-known memorial to a famous statesman, near a children’s play area in a park, and a pedestrian bridge. More footage showed an apartment block in Dnipro in flames.

BBC journalist ducks for cover as Russian missiles hit Kyiv 

A BBC journalist was forced to take cover during a live broadcast this morning as Russian missiles slammed into Kyiv behind him.

Ukraine’s capital was hit by multiple strikes today – amid reports of blasts in several other cities – as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s revenge for an explosion which crippled the Crimea Bridge got under way.

At 8:18am local time, the BBC’s correspondent in Kyiv, Hugo Bachega, was delivering a news report on a roof in front of the city’s iconic golden-domed St. Michael’s Monastery when the sound of a rocket could be heard roaring overhead.

He stopped his report mid-sentence to glance behind him, before an explosion could be heard ringing out in the distance – forcing him to duck down, out of shot of the camera looking over the city.

The footage cut back to the studio, where a concerned-looking news presenter Sally Bundock told viewers that Mr Bachega was ‘for obvious reasons, taking cover at that point’.

 

 

The attacks yesterday drew condemnation from across the world, and Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to call for a full meeting of Nato leaders when she attends a meeting of the G7 tomorrow.

Ms Truss is also set to say at the virtual meeting that the G7 must not waver in its support for Ukraine after the strikes.

Mr Zelensky said Ukraine counts on the UK’s ‘leadership in consolidating international political and defence support for Ukraine, in particular regarding the protection of our skies’. 

He also called on western allies to provide anti-air and anti-missile systems in response to the attacks. 

US President Biden condemned the widespread missile attacks in Ukraine, saying they have targeted civilians and served no military purpose.

‘The United States strongly condemns Russia’s missile strikes today across Ukraine, including in Kyiv. These attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose,’ Biden said in a statement.

‘They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people.’

The United States has provided more than $16.8 billion worth of U.S. security assistance since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and imposed a wide-ranging array of economic sanctions on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.

‘These attacks only further reinforce our commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,’ Biden said.

‘Alongside our allies and partners, we will continue to impose costs on Russia for its aggression, hold Putin and Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes, and provide the support necessary for Ukrainian forces to defend their country and their freedom.’

However, there are concerns that the war is set to escalate further after Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko, one of Putin’s few remaining foreign allies, appeared to be laying the groundwork to join the war amid yesterday’s attacks. 

He announced Russian units would combine with his own and deploy to the Ukraine border, accusing Kyiv of planning to attack with help from allies Poland and Lithuania.

Belarus has acted as a staging ground for Russian attacks on Ukraine, but has not yet been involved in the fighting.

Last night there were reports of large numbers of Russian troops being moved into its ally, with Kyiv Post journalist Jason Jay Smart quoting a source as saying: ‘Russian soldiers are entering Belarus by the trainload. They’re travelling in cattle cars – just a huge quantity. Just waves of trains arriving.’

Belarus has said it does not plan on attacking Ukraine but will provide an ‘immediate and harsh response’ if Zelensky orders attacks on its territory. 

Vladimir Putin, speaking at a meeting of his security council today, vowed a 'severe' response to any future attacks on Russia as he confirmed firing a massive salvo of missiles at Ukraine

Vladimir Putin, speaking at a meeting of his security council today, vowed a ‘severe’ response to any future attacks on Russia as he confirmed firing a massive salvo of missiles at Ukraine

KYIV: Ukrainians injured by flying shrapnel during Russian missile strikes on the capital on Monday morning are patched up by military medics in a park close to where the rockets hit

KYIV: Ukrainians injured by flying shrapnel during Russian missile strikes on the capital this morning are patched up by military medics in a park close to where the rockets hit

KYIV: A civilian with blood running down his face has his head bandaged by a medic after he was injured in a Russian missile strike on the capital on Monday morning

KYIV: A civilian with blood running down his face has his head bandaged by a medic after he was injured in a Russian missile strike on the capital this morning

KYIV: A fireman helps a woman and her dogs to evacuate an office building in the capital after it was hit by Russian missiles

KYIV: A fireman helps a woman and her dogs to evacuate an office building in the capital after it was hit by Russian missiles

LVIV: Smoke rises over the city in far-western Ukraine that has been largely spared the worst effects of the war after Putin unleashed a barrage of strikes in revenge for the Crimea bridge being hit

LVIV: Smoke rises over the city in far-western Ukraine that has been largely spared the worst effects of the war after Putin unleashed a barrage of strikes in revenge for the Crimea bridge being hit

ZAPORIZHZHIA: Rescuers attempt to extinguish the remains of an apartment building in southern Ukraine which was hit by a Russian missile overnight

ZAPORIZHZHIA: Rescuers attempt to extinguish the remains of an apartment building in southern Ukraine which was hit by a Russian missile overnight

Meanwhile hardliners within Russia demanded a declaration of full war and the use of nuclear weapons. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had ruled out the atomic option on Sunday, but that will do little to dampen fears as Putin runs out of options having already annexed occupied territory and conscripted hundreds of thousands of troops.

China leads calls for ‘de-escalation’ in wake of attacks as Poland denounces ‘war crime’

China has led calls for de-escalation following a huge Russian bombardment of Ukrainian cities today as Putin loses his grip on the war.

Mao Ning, spokesman for the foreign ministry, said Beijing ‘hopes the situation will de-escalate soon’. Though he refused to directly condemn Russia, his statement will be read as a rare rebuke from a country seen as one of Moscow strongest allies.

India, another country with close ties to Russia, said it was ‘deeply concerned’ and urged a ‘return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue’. 

Meanwhile Poland’s foreign minister Zbigniew Rau issued a stronger statement, condemning what he described as ‘an act of barbarism and a war crime.’

‘We stand behind you Ukraine,’ Mr Rau tweeted.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly condemned ‘unacceptable’ Russian strikes, calling it ‘a demonstration of weakness by Putin, not strength.’

Meanwhile President Zelensky said he had agreed with Germany’s Chancellor Scholz to address a G7 meeting today to update them on what he called ‘terrorist attacks’ by Russia.

The European Commission condemned as ‘barbaric’ Russian missile strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities on Monday and warned Belarus against helping its ally kill civilians.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Russia’s acts had ‘no place in the 21st century’, adding in a tweet that military support for Ukraine was on its way.

‘They are barbaric and cowardly attacks… targeting innocent civilians on their way to work and school in the morning traffic,’ Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the European Union’s executive arm told the Commission’s daily news briefing.

He described the strikes as a contravention of international humanitarian law and said Russia’s political and military leadership would be held accountable for these and other war crimes.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said he’d spoken to Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to condemn the ‘horrific and indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine’. 

Ukrainian social media networks were flooded with videos of defiance in the wake of the attacks, as people in bomb shelters and in the Kyiv subway network sung the national anthem and other patriotic songs even as bombs fell.

Summing up the mood, Ukraine’s defence ministry tweeted: ‘So, russkies, you really think you can compensate for your impotence on the battlefield with missile strikes on peaceful cities?

‘You just don’t get it do you – your terrorist strikes only make us stronger. We are coming after you.’

Widespread power outages were reported after the Russian salvo, with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal saying 11 ‘key infrastructure facilities’ were hit without giving further details. Some cities were also reported to have water shortages.

Within Russia, the strikes were cheered by hawks. Ramzan Kadyrov, the staunchly pro-Kremlin leader of Russia’s Chechnya region who had demanded in recent days that military commanders be sacked, hailed Monday’s attacks: ‘Now I am 100% satisfied with how the special military operation is being conducted.’

‘We warned you Zelensky, that Russia hasn’t even got started yet, so stop complaining … and run! Run away without looking back to the West,’ he wrote.

Russia has faced major setbacks on the battlefield since the start of September, with Ukrainian forces bursting through front lines and recapturing territory. Putin responded to the losses by ordering a mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of reservists, proclaiming the annexation of occupied territory and threatening repeatedly to use nuclear weapons.

Russian officials had predicted retaliation of the highest order after the bridge attack. Alexander Baskin, a Russian senator, confidently suggested that the Kremlin’s response would be ‘adequate, conscious and possibly asymmetric’, the Mirror reported.

He added: ‘This was a declaration of war without rules.’

A red-faced Putin on Sunday blamed Ukrainian special forces for the explosion which severely damaged the key link to the Russian mainland.

The livid president said the blast at Kerch Bridge was designed to destroy ‘critically important civilian infrastructure’. He declared that the attack was a terrorist incident.

Speaking before today’s Russian attacks, Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army, said Putin could order the indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities and could even ‘go nuclear’.

However, the Kremlin has played down fears from Western observers that it could use nuclear weapons, saying it is ‘completely incorrect’ that it was considering using them in response.

Russian governors predicted today’s revenge missile attacks after the destruction of the bridge on Saturday morning, which was considered to be one of Putin’s pet projects.

The bridge has been a symbol of Russian power in Crimea since its annexation of the peninsula in 2014.

The bridge, which spans 19km from Crimea to the Russian mainland, has been used as one of the main supply routes for Russian troops since the illegal invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, allowing Putin to resupply and back up forces occupying Kherson and other southern regions of Ukraine.

Its destruction in a huge blast in the early hours of Saturday morning was a huge blow to the Russian war effort and was a slap in the face for the Russian president.

The 12 mile long bridge over the Kerch strait links Crimea to the Russian mainland and is a major artery for Putin’s forces that control most of southern Ukraine’s Kherson region and for the Russian naval port of Sevastopol.

It was damaged in an explosion early Saturday morning which saw chunks of the bridge fall into the sea and a large fire break out.

The incident prompted gleeful messages from Ukrainian officials – though no claim of responsibility – and video footage of the bridge appeared to show a mysterious wave crest underneath the structure moments before the blast, prompting speculation that a Ukrainian-piloted boat or drone was likely behind it.

Cornered like a rat, Vladimir Putin is more dangerous than ever, warns Russia expert and author PROFESSOR MARK GALEOTTI 

The horrifying attacks on Ukraine yesterday – which Vladimir Putin claims were ‘retaliation’ for Ukraine’s successful attack on the Kerch bridge – are a sign that the Russian president is, if not yet desperate, getting nearer to it.

They represent a highly significant psychological shift for the beleaguered leader. He is no longer trying to win the war: now he is simply trying not to visibly lose it.

Previously he could have defined victory however he wanted. But by annexing Ukrainian regions, he has upped the already high stakes. If he cedes so-called ‘Russian’ territory, he will become the Tsar who gave away Russian land instead of the strongman who restored the empire.

And by ordering partial mobilisation on September 21 he ensured the war now touches every Russian family. Putin has made the catastrophic mistake of calling his own bluff.

Previously he could have defined victory however he wanted. But by annexing Ukrainian regions, Putin has upped the already high stakes

Previously he could have defined victory however he wanted. But by annexing Ukrainian regions, Putin has upped the already high stakes

He realises he is fighting for his political life and, as we have seen before, he is ready to sacrifice countless lives at the altar of his own ambition. In 2000 he let 118 men die on the stricken Kursk submarine rather than accept help from the West to rescue them.

Now he is prepared to accept appallingly high casualties among the ill-trained conscripts he has sent to Ukraine.

The Russian army has been revealed as shoddy, incompetent and ill equipped. Money that should have been spent on maintenance was siphoned off. Meanwhile the Ukrainian army, equipped with 21st century weaponry by the West, and highly skilled partly thanks to British training, has inspired awe with its indomitable spirit.

Battlefield failure reflects badly on Putin personally because he has built himself up as a warrior president despite having no military experience. Some years ago, I met a group of Russian officers who, after alcohol had lubricated tongues, were scathing about Putin’s military pretensions. ‘I wouldn’t want a virgin telling me what to do on my wedding night,’ one said.

Meanwhile the Ukrainian army, equipped with 21st century weaponry by the West, and highly skilled partly thanks to British training, has inspired awe with its indomitable spirit

Meanwhile the Ukrainian army, equipped with 21st century weaponry by the West, and highly skilled partly thanks to British training, has inspired awe with its indomitable spirit

These sentiments are becoming more widespread in Russia. Putin is coming under increasing flak from nationalists demanding stronger measures in Ukraine. He is still a rational actor, for now. But anger, self-preservation, and political pressure could alter this.

There are nightmare scenarios that he has so far kept locked away. Now, cornered like the rat he once famously chased as a boy in a St Petersburg basement, he is unlocking them. The missile strikes yesterday were calculated to sow terror – Putin knows the only way he’s going to win is if he breaks Ukrainian resistance, or the West’s will to continue supporting Kyiv. We must brace ourselves for attacks nearer home.

He could unleash his cyber warfare trolls to disrupt the banking system for example. There could be more economic mischief making, interrupting global food and energy supplies. I believe that blowing up the Nordstream gas pipe was a warning: ‘Look what I can do.’ Undersea internet cables are among other likely targets. And we will see more attempts to disrupt politics, such as the forthcoming American mid-term elections. Putin hasn’t yet attacked supply lines bringing weapons into Ukraine for fear of Nato retaliation.

Now, cornered like the rat he once famously chased as a boy in a St Petersburg basement, he is unlocking them

But there may be more covert operations in Europe – as when Russian agents blew up an arms depot near Prague in 2014.

I believe that his nuclear threats are largely bluster. But if Ukrainians mount future attacks on Crimea, Putin could feel that he has nothing to lose, as losing the peninsula would finish him.

As a KGB officer in East Germany in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, Putin brandished a pistol at crowds surging into KGB headquarters, successfully bluffing that there were more armed troops inside. Now, he is running out of bluffs, and options.

And that is worrying for us all.

Mark Galeotti is honorary professor at the University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the author of 24 books on Russia, including a biography of Vladimir Putin.

The day death rained from the sky: In a compelling dispatch from Ukraine, IAN BIRRELL recalls the terror unleashed by Putin’s ‘furious barrage’ of 84 missiles, which were cruelly dropped on cities as innocent commuters rushed to work

The first blast erupted after 8am, sounding alarmingly loud and perilously close to my hotel. Then came a couple more, a long pause, then another burst of hideously familiar bangs, thumps and thuds.

These were the staccato sounds of war, a series of cruel explosions in the midst of a bustling city filled with commuters on their way to work.

A shocked man rushed past in the street, saying he had just passed a nearby building that had several floors missing.

Gaping holes appeared in roads and roofs, a bus was blasted apart, innocent people suddenly met their deaths.

For this was the Monday morning rush hour from hell as Vladimir Putin unleashed a furious barrage of missiles that rained down on cars, homes, offices and stations  across Ukraine.

KYIV: A medical worker runs past a car which has been blown up after a Russian attack on the capital

KYIV: A medical worker runs past a car which has been blown up after a Russian attack on the capital

KYIV: A rescuer helps an injured woman at the site of shelling, which Vladimir Putin said he ordered in response to 'terrorist' attacks on Russia

KYIV: A rescuer helps an injured woman at the site of shelling, which Vladimir Putin said he ordered in response to ‘terrorist’ attacks on Russia

KYIV: Cars burn after Russian military strikes on cities across Ukraine as Putin takes revenge for the Crimea bridge blast

KYIV: Cars burn after Russian military strikes on cities across Ukraine as Putin takes revenge for the Crimea bridge blast

KYIV: Smoke rises over the city after a Russian missile strike on a day where Putin sought revenge

KYIV: Smoke rises over the city after a Russian missile strike on a day where Putin sought revenge

Harrowing images showed emergency workers trying to escort local residents and dogs

Harrowing images showed emergency workers trying to escort local residents and dogs

We must face fact that Nato may go to war with Russia 

Analysis by General Sir Richard Shirreff

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has failed. As Kyiv steadily takes back swathes of land in strategic southern Kherson and in the north east, Putin is resorting to desperate measures to save himself.

Following the destruction of the Kerch bridge to the Crimean peninsula – which Russia claims was Ukrainian ‘terrorism’ – yesterday saw Moscow launch brutal missile attacks against civilian targets, most fatally in the centre of Kyiv.

Meanwhile, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev gloated that this was just ‘the first episode’, signalling that the intensification of attacks could be the start of a further escalation in the war by the Kremlin.

Yet Putin will need a lot more manpower if he is to take on Ukraine’s military counteroffensive – and it may not be as simple as he would like the West to believe.

Bombardments like the ones seen this week will not bring Ukraine to its knees. They are simply not enough to change the battlefield dynamic and ensure that Russia is in the ascendant.

Russia's response came following the destruction of the Kerch bridge to the Crimean peninsula

Russia’s response came following the destruction of the Kerch bridge to the Crimean peninsula 

Nor does Putin have the artillery war chest to escalate the war with strikes alone. Rather, his aim is to destroy civilian morale. But as this week has shown, the opposite is the case: even as Ukraine’s cities suffer, the people’s morale is stronger than ever.

Ramping up the war will require mobilisation on an even larger scale and, even if Putin is able to force hordes of untrained men into a makeshift army, they will have scarcely any kit or weapons.

In a speech on September 21, Putin announced the mobilisation of 300,000 troops – Russia’s first since the Second World War.

The Kremlin would draft into uniform just ‘those who served in the armed forces and have certain military specialties’, he declared.

Even then, intelligence by Britain’s Ministry of Defence found that those soldiers would be provided with only ‘low-level initial training’, since the majority of military commanders had already been deployed to Ukraine. So conscription on an even larger scale would be chaos. Already we are seeing waves of recruits sent to the front line in trainers, because boots (like everything else in the Russian military) are in short supply. As the Ukrainian winter sets in, many of these unlucky conscripts might freeze to death before they see battle, contributing to a collapse in morale.

The toll of casualties will be immense and though we know Russians are prepared to endure pain, they are also not afraid of revolution.

Following the first mobilisation, Moscow’s local media has said as many as 700,000 civilians have fled.

KYIV: Firefighters attempt to put out blazes as a car burns following the missile strikes, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues

KYIV: Firefighters attempt to put out blazes as a car burns following the missile strikes, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues

This exodus would get worse should Putin escalate the war.

He is setting the conditions to make an enemy of his entire people. Now more than ever, the West has to ensure Ukraine has all the support it needs to fight. We must double down.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky and his citizens will not blink in the face of this onslaught, and neither should we. We have to be prepared to ramp up our support to ensure that Moscow’s brutal assault is seen to fail spectacularly.

Putin and his media cronies are attempting to intimidate us by threatening to use nuclear weapons.

He has to understand that, if he ever resorted to this genocidal tactic, the response of the West would be unprecedented. Even Russia could not withstand such pain.

Nato leaders, and in particular US President Joe Biden, have to use every available channel to make the Kremlin grasp this.

In public, Mr Biden does not need to spell out his intentions. But the message has to be sent, and it has to be unmistakable.

Even then, I fear Putin is deranged enough to carry out his nuclear threats. I have been warning for years that we must prepare for the prospect of war with Russia.

So far, instead of investing in our armed forces, successive UK defence reviews have drained our strength – and strength is the only standpoint that Putin understands.

Britain’s leaders will need great courage and the support of our whole population. Although Ukraine is fighting back, a war between Nato countries and Russia remains a very real possibility.

General Sir Richard Shirreff is the former deputy supreme allied commander Europe

Launched from aircraft, drones and naval vessels, the lethal strikes exploded in a hail of terror as commuters headed to work in cities from Lviv in the west through to the second city of Kharkiv, 600 miles east beside the Russian border.

A second wave was fired later in the day as the Kremlin continued its diabolical slaughter, leaving sirens wailing and fearful citizens rushing back down to basements.

Ukraine claimed 84 missiles were launched, with 43 shot down. At least 14 people were confirmed dead and 97 wounded in attacks that damaged 117 buildings. These included six deaths and 51 injuries in Kyiv as the capital, home to three million people before the war, was hit for the first time since June.

‘Russia is trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,’ said President Volodymyr Zelensky. ‘We are dealing with terrorists. They want panic and chaos. Today the whole world once again saw the true face of a terrorist state that is killing our people. Not only on the battlefield but also in peaceful cities.’

The strikes on more than 20 places mark a significant escalation of the eight-month war. Russia targeted civilian infrastructure by hitting electricity, heating and transport facilities and disrupting power and water supplies.

Putin admitted this was revenge for his latest humiliation in the disastrous invasion of Ukraine: the weekend attack on his beloved 12-mile road and rail bridge that links Russia to Crimea, the peninsular he annexed illegally in 2014.

Addressing a hastily arranged televised meeting of his security council, the Kremlin strongman accused Kyiv of carrying out ‘terrorist acts’ and pledged a ‘severe response’.

Attacking on such scale was intended to spread alarm and panic, smashing the sense of normality that has been slowly been returning to most cities away from the front as Russian forces retreat. Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of Putin and a former president, insisted Russia remained set on ‘the full dismantling of the political regime in Ukraine’.

So once again I found myself witnessing the callous actions of an evil dictator, who is facing mounting criticism from hardline allies after launching a catastrophic war based on the most absurd pretext.

Kyiv was hit seven times, with six cars bursting into flames as parks and even a playground were attacked. ‘It was very scary – glass was pouring down from above,’ said one man. ‘People were falling to the ground, crying and praying.’

The emergency services said more than 30 fires broke out.

One strike damaged the Klitschko pedestrian and bicycle bridge, a popular tourist spot on the banks of the Dnipro River that was opened only in May 2019.

In Sloviansk, close to the fighting on the Donbas frontline, several residents died in a strike on a house, including a young woman violinist whose body was hurled into a neighbour’s garden.

Officials in Dnipro – an industrial city of a million people in central Ukraine – said ten missiles were fired at the area, with four destroyed in the air. At least four people were killed, 19 injured and 80,000 left without electricity. Yet the sense of shock over such atrocities was fused with an unbowed spirit of defiance.

Putin claimed his missiles hit communications, energy and military facilities – but I found only the hideously-twisted wreckage of a bus and residential blocks with shattered windows. 

Two construction workers died in these attacks. The bus driver, doing his daily job of ferrying men and women to work, was rushed to hospital with terrible wounds. 

And there was the sadly-familiar sound of weary citizens sweeping up broken glass.

A stunned girl, perhaps eight years old, stared morosely through the hole in the side of her home that once held glass. Three jars of jam had somehow stayed intact.

In a broken tower block, 70-year-old Sofia showed me where she had been sleeping behind a curtain separating her bed from the living room when the windows exploded, leaving the smashed frame on her sofa surrounded by shards of glass.

‘I had to take drops to calm myself after seeing such things on television but when it happens to you, it is impossible to describe the horror,’ said the pensioner, a retired transport manager.

Her terror increased when she could not escape her flat after the blast jammed the front door. ‘What have we done to Putin that he does these awful things to us?,’ asked Sofia. ‘Why can’t the world stop him when so many people have died?’

Maxsym, 45, a truck driver before the war, was shaking and seemed on the brink of tears as he explained how he had come home for a short break from the front for his wife’s birthday. A bunch of pink roses sat on the floor of his home.

Daria, a 17-year-old college student, had been sleeping alone in her flat after her parents left for work. ‘I feel only hatred toward the people doing this,’ she told me. ‘How can this be happening in the 21st century?’ Her parents Iryna, a caterer, and Oleksandr, a builder, had come back home and looked utterly distraught as they stood in their bedroom surrounded by glass. 

They plan on moving to a safer place in nearby countryside amid fears of more attacks. Ordinary people living ordinary lives who suddenly saw their homes blown apart and all their family certainties bust in an instant – like so many Ukrainians I have met.  

Yet this distraught couple said the same words as Sofia, boiling the kettle for a cup of tea amid the chaos. So did Maxysm, preparing to go back to the front line with his limp to join his brother in uniform.

‘We will stand strong,’ said Iryna, 44. ‘We will fight back. There is a lot of anger and resistance.’

These determined words were echoed by Borys Filatov, the mayor of Dnipro, who declared last night: ‘There is no fear – only hatred and the desire to fight.’ 

Yet as darkness fell last night, bombs continued to explode as streets emptied again across the battered country. ‘We’re sitting in the basement, there are explosions above us, the windows are shaking,’ said Oksana, a mother of two young children, texting from Kremenchuk in central Ukraine.

Defiance: Daria, a 17-year-old college student, had been sleeping alone in her flat after her parents Iryna and Oleksandr went to work. They came back to their bedroom surrounded by glass

Defiance: Daria, a 17-year-old college student, had been sleeping alone in her flat after her parents Iryna and Oleksandr went to work. They came back to their bedroom surrounded by glass

CCTV footage captured the moment that the Klitschko footbridge in Kyiv was hit by a missile in Kyiv yesterday

CCTV footage captured the moment that the Klitschko footbridge in Kyiv was hit by a missile in Kyiv yesterday

A member of the Ukrainian military helps with search and rescue operations after Russian missile strikes on Kyiv today

A member of the Ukrainian military helps with search and rescue operations after Russian missile strikes on Kyiv today

KYIV: Cars burn on the streets of the Ukrainian capital on Monday morning after multiple missiles struck the city - the first time in months that it has been hit as Putin exacts revenge for strikes on the Kerch Bridge

KYIV: Cars burn on the streets of the Ukrainian capital on Monday morning after multiple missiles struck the city – the first time in months that it has been hit as Putin exacts revenge for strikes on the Kerch Bridge

KYIV: Firefighters extinguish a burning vehicle as a dead body lies on the street (bottom right) following Russian missile strikes that targeted civilian areas and power stations

KYIV: Firefighters extinguish a burning vehicle as a dead body lies on the street (bottom right) following Russian missile strikes that targeted civilian areas and power stations

Alarmingly, these strikes reflect the trademark of Sergey Surovikin, a bloodstained general infamous for his ruthlessness, who Putin has just appointed to lead his war effort amid rumbling discontent about its conduct.

Surovikin, who has been jailed for killing protesters and for illegal firearms trading, is a notorious butcher who oversaw the destruction of Aleppo in Syria and was involved in the crushing of Chechen cities.

Yet as one Ukrainian journalist told me, the Nazi blitz on British cities only strengthened citizen resolve.

Igor Lachenkov, a prominent blogger from Dnipro, said: ‘The Russians spent a huge amount of missiles attacking civilians which does not help them in terms of military advance but will only make Ukrainians even more angry. Russians can’t fight – they know only how to terrorise others.’

Additional reporting by Kate Baklitskaya

China is a huge threat to ALL of us: GCHQ boss warns superpower is planning ‘global technological dominance’ with state-of-the-art satellite system – while building its own digital currency to insulate itself from sanctions if it decides to invade Taiwan

Britain faces a ‘sliding doors moment in history’ with China, whose plans for global technological dominance pose a ‘huge threat to us all’, the head of GCHQ warns today.

Sir Jeremy Fleming fears the hostile state is using key technologies to spread its influence around the world – even using surveillance from space.

In a speech today, the intelligence chief raises the prospect that China is building a satellite system capable of tracking individuals around the world. 

Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China still poses the greater long-term threat to global security, according to Sir Jeremy.

He believes the Chinese Communist Party is learning lessons from Russia’s ‘staggering’ losses in Ukraine, and is seeking to build a centralised digital currency to insulate itself from international sanctions if China invades Taiwan.

Sir Jeremy Fleming fears China is using key technologies to spread its influence around the world – even using surveillance from space

Sir Jeremy Fleming fears China is using key technologies to spread its influence around the world – even using surveillance from space

In the RUSI Annual Security Lecture, Sir Jeremy will set out how China is exporting technologies around the world to spy on other countries, gain influence and sway votes and policies in its favour.

He believes China’s BeiDou satellite navigation system, which works similarly to GPS, is being developed as both a means to track people and as a secret weapon to incapacitate satellites used by rival Western nations. 

BeiDou, which provides navigation to aircraft, submarines, missiles and commercial services, has already been built into Chinese exports to more than 120 countries worldwide.

He will say: ‘Many believe that China is building a powerful anti-satellite capability, with a doctrine of denying other nations access to space in the event of a conflict. And there are fears the technology could be used to track individuals.’

In a speech today, the intelligence chief raises the prospect that China is building a satellite system capable of tracking individuals around the world

In a speech today, the intelligence chief raises the prospect that China is building a satellite system capable of tracking individuals around the world

China’s ‘great strength combined with fear is driving [it] into actions that could represent a huge threat to us all’, he will say. 

Referring to a pivotal point in world events, he adds: ‘At GCHQ it is our privilege and duty to see the sliding door moments of history. This feels like one of those moments. Our future strategic technology advantage rests on what we as a community do next.’

He fears China is seeking to create ‘client economies and governments’ by selling technology cheaply to other countries in order to leverage influence. 

In the UK, the Government has already ordered telecoms equipment from Chinese tech giant Huawei to be stripped out of the UK’s 5G network due to national security concerns, but it won’t happen until 2027.

Today Sir Jeremy will warn other countries they are ‘mortgaging their future’ if they buy Chinese tech with ‘hidden costs’. 

While the UK and its allies seek science and tech advancement to enable prosperity, the Communist Party wields it as a ‘tool to gain advantage through control of their markets, of those in their sphere of influence and of their own citizens. 

In the UK, the Government has already ordered telecoms equipment from Chinese tech giant Huawei to be stripped out of the UK’s 5G network due to national security concerns, but it won’t happen until 2027

In the UK, the Government has already ordered telecoms equipment from Chinese tech giant Huawei to be stripped out of the UK’s 5G network due to national security concerns, but it won’t happen until 2027

They see opportunities to control the Chinese people rather than looking for ways to support and unleash their citizens’ potential… But underlying that belief is a sense of fear.

‘Fear of its own citizens, of freedom of speech, free trade, open technological standards and alliances – the whole open, democratic order and the international rules-based system.’

Sir Jeremy will also deliver an excoriating verdict on Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, saying: ‘Far from the inevitable Russian military victory that their propaganda machine spouted, it’s clear that Ukraine’s courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide. 

They [Russia] are feeling the extent of the dreadful human cost of his war of choice.’



Source link