Putin's key move showing Russia leader 'feeling less strong than we think' over Ukraine

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Vladimir Putin has been fuelling fears of a new conflict in eastern Europe with his persistently hostile stance and refusal to remove thousands of soldiers from the border with Ukraine. US President Joe Biden agreed to a meeting in principle with Russia’s leader as long as no invasion is launched this week. NYU History professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat said Putin agreeing to the summit would be tantamount to conceding he is not confident as expected in Russia’s chances to win in case of war.

Speaking to Sky News, Prof Ben-Ghiat said: “These autocrats, they don’t really negotiate.

“That’s why he was against the summit. What they do is they create a crisis and then they use the crisis to extract concessions so that’s what’s going on now.

“But this will be a measure – if he agrees to some kind of summit that he’s feeling less strong internally than we think.”

Asked whether the Russian leader could ultimately seek to launch a military attack on Ukraine, the academic said an invasion could not be ruled out.

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She continued: “There could be some kind of military action.

“You don’t amass such a huge force omg the border and then just retreat.

“Again, he would need to have significant concessions.”

Russia denies any plan to attack its neighbour but has threatened unspecified “military-technical” action unless it receives sweeping security guarantees, including a promise that Ukraine will never join NATO.

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“Speak straight.”

After verbally stumbling, the official duly said he supported independence.

Shelling has intensified since last week along a long-simmering frontline between the rebels and Ukrainian forces.

On Friday the rebels started bussing tens of thousands of civilians to Russia, accusing Kiev of planning an attack, which Ukraine denies as propaganda.



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