‘End of Putin’: Despot may have ‘ladder kicked from under him’ as nuclear threats backfire

But he has been warned his threats over the use of nuclear weapons could spectacularly backfire on him, as his own military might even lead to his downfall.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired British Army officer who served from 1977 to 2006, wrote for The Telegraph: “Deterring those who are responsible for carrying out Putin’s orders, and who themselves want to survive, is now critical and could literally save the world if an attack order is disobeyed.

“Refusal by his subordinates to implement instructions for a nuclear strike would also spell the end for Putin. He knows that and will not issue the order unless he is confident it will be executed, hence the need for American messaging to hit home.”

Colonel Kemp warned “Putin’s end may anyway come sooner rather than later” as many political and military elites in Russia are now starting to see “they are backing the wrong horse” – particularly following his partial mobilisation plans.

During recent weeks, several of Putin’s overseas allies appear to have distanced themselves from Moscow, including India, whose president warned him: “Today’s era is not of war.”

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a huge warning when he ordered Putin to return all “occupied” land – including Crimea.

Putin was even forced to acknowledge that Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping – who has been relatively tight-lipped over Russia’s war in Ukraine – had concerns following a meeting between the pair.

Colonel Kemp added: “Just as Washington’s communications with Russia’s senior leadership is vital for staving off escalation, so is Western diplomacy among Moscow’s allies, persuading them to toughen their own stance against Putin’s nuclear menacing.

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“The message here is not for Putin, since he is hoist by his own petard and cannot climb down unless Ukraine comes to terms, but for the political and military elites, who may be able to kick the ladder out from under him.”

The British Army Commander also warned of a “double-edged sword” as the end of Putin may not necessarily mean the end of the war in Ukraine or, at best, an improved situation.

He argued many in Moscow want to end the conflict through means of minimalizing the damage and humiliation to their own country.

But on the other hand, Colonel Kemp also believes there are others who are still fully behind Putin in that an escalation of violence may be what is required.

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Western powers have been quick to respond to Putin’s chilling nuclear threats made last week, with the US warning him of “catastrophic consequences” if he goes through with it.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned the US will “respond decisively” if the Russian leader carries out the nuke warning.

He told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ programme: “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.”

Mr Sullivan did not detail what the US response might be, but said the country has privately “spelled out in greater detail exactly what that would mean” to Moscow.

Last week, US President Joe Biden accused Putin of making “overt nuclear threats against Europe” during his speech at the United Nationals General Assembly in New York.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss also told CNN over the weekend: “We should not be listening to his sabre-rattling and his bogus threats.

“Instead, what we need to do is continue to put sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians.”