Vladimir Putin is under pressure to “change the way the war is going” and according to the latest US intelligence reports the Russia leader has been in discussions with Kremlin officials to fire a tactical nuclear weapon.
US intelligence agencies have become increasingly concerned after the Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin publicly criticised Putin over his war, claimed CNN White House correspondent Natasha Bertrand.
She said that the Wagner chief is trying to have more control and responsibility over the war in Ukraine and US top brass are concerned Putin could be forced to deliver “something potentially drastic” to change the course of the war.
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Bertrand said, “The reason why the US intelligence community found this meeting so interesting, was because it says a lot about Prigozhin’s ambitions and also his standing within Putin’s inner circle.
“It’s not just anyone who can confront Putin directly on this kind of thing.
“Members of Putin’s inner circle don’t usually decent openly to his policies.
“But, it also says a lot about Prigozhin’s ambitions, because what we were told is that he has become more and more emboldened in terms of challenging the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu for influence.
Bertrand added, “And of course, he has been telling people that he wants more resources and more responsibility.
“And more everything really, for Wagner forces who are notoriously brutal who are operating in Ukraine at a very large scale, upwards of 5,000 mercenaries now operating in Ukraine.
“So, the Kremlin now is really walking this interesting tightrope, Putin in particular.
“Because it’s not only Prighozin who has confronted him, it’s also other senior Kremlin officials we’re told saying, look you need to change something about the way this war is going.
“US intelligence officials are really concerned about that, they’re watching how Putin responds because some of these officials are saying you need to do something more, you need to do something potentially drastic.”
However, the former US General James Clapper warned it is “not as improbable” as many believe over the prospect of a nuclear attack.
Clapper told CNN, “I am sure there have been lots of discussions amongst senior Russian officers about nuclear weapons and whether they should be used or not, or when.
“What’s missing from all this, or at least what is missing from the reporting that is available accessible to us, is what actually would the objective be on the part of the Russians to use nuclear weapons.
“What would they try to do beyond what they are trying to do already? Which is using conventional weapons, gradually destroying the civilian infrastructure of Ukraine.
“I still feel the prospect for the use of nuclear weapons is unlikely but not as improbable as it was before February 24.”