Putin crisis as ultra-nationalist Russians aim ire at leader over Ukraine humiliation

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Putin’s closest allies in Russia are ramping up their criticism of Russian military failures in Ukraine as Kyiv’s troops rapidly take back occupied territories. The Russian leader first suffered criticism among his close circles of oligarchs, military and veteran groups, in March, when Russian forces failed to conquer the Ukrainian capital.

Putin has yet to comment publicly on the battlefield setback suffered by his forces this month.

But as Ukrainian officials say 9,000 sq km (3,400 sq miles) have been retaken, about the size of the island of Cyprus, Putin’s allies are beginning to voice their concerns.

The Russian President was presiding over the grand opening of a Ferris wheel in a park in Moscow over the weekend at the very moment Russian troops were forced to run for their lives in Ukraine.

Blasting his fury directly at Putin, a pro-Kremlin blogger said: “You’re throwing a billion-ruble party. What is wrong with you? Not at the time of such horrible failure.”

Ukraine has also launched a major offensive to recapture territory in the south, where it aims to trap thousands of Russian troops cut off from supplies on the west bank of the Dnipro river, and retake Kherson, the only large city Russia has captured intact since the start of the war.

“Our assessments of the international situation coincide completely … there are no discrepancies at all,” he said. “We will continue to coordinate our actions including at the forthcoming UN General Assembly.”

Xi did not mention Ukraine in his public remarks.

China has refrained from condemning Russia’s operation against Ukraine or calling it an “invasion” in line with the Kremlin, which casts the war as “a special military operation”.

The last time Xi and Putin met in person, just weeks before the Feb 24 invasion, they declared a “no limits” partnership and inked a promise to collaborate more against the West.

Beijing is perturbed by the impact on the global economy and has been careful not to give material support to Russia that could trigger Western sanctions on China’s own economy.

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