In seeking “payback” for Moscow’s losses, top army officials are reportedly imploring the Russian leader to replace his “special military operation” tagline with a cry of all-out war, which would permit the Kremlin to drum up the mass-mobilisation of its population.
Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists, but Kyiv and western leaders say this a false pretext for an unprovoked war of Russian aggression.
“The military are outraged that the blitz on Kyiv failed,” a source close to Russian military chiefs told The Telegraph.
“People in the army are seeking payback for failures of the past, and they want to go further in Ukraine.”
If Putin were to declare war on his neighbour, Moscow would be able to draft in more conscripts – which could also be kept for longer than the usual year-long term – impose martial law and make bids for increased support from it’s international allies, such as Belarus.
It follows warnings from the West that Putin could use Russia’s Victory Day celebrations on the 9 May to set the stage for a “greater call to arms.”
Defence secretary Ben Wallace lent his voice to warnings that the annual parade could be used to declare war.
He told LBC that Putin having “failed” in most of his objectives in the war with Ukraine may declare war on the “world’s Nazis”.
He said: “I would not be surprised . . . that he is probably going to declare on May Day that ‘we are now at war with the world’s Nazis and we need to mass mobilise the Russian people’.”
He continued: “Putin, having failed in nearly all objectives, may seek to consolidate what he’s got . . . and just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country. We have to help Ukrainians effectively get the limpet off the rock and keep the momentum pushing them back.”
His comments arrived in the wake of the announcement that Britain is sending around 8,000 of its troops to take part in exercises across eastern Europe.
The historic move, which will also see dozens of tanks deployed to countries ranging from Finland to North Macedonia this summer, will mark the largest deployment in Europe since the Cold War.
The thousands of British troops will be joined by tens of thousands of troops from Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force alliance, which includes Finland and Sweden.
The plans have been in the works for a long time, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but it had been enhanced in response in light of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Mr Wallace said: “The security of Europe has never been more important. These exercises will see our troops join forces with allies and partners across Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force in a show of solidarity and strength in one of the largest shared deployments since the Cold War.”