whispers in the halls
Some Kremlin insiders reportedly fear Putin will use nukes in Ukraine
Some Kremlin insiders have begun surreptitiously expressing concerns about the mounting costs of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin could order the use of nuclear weapons to achieve his war goals, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
Bloomberg based its report on information provided by 10 anonymous "people with direct knowledge of the situation."
Russia's setbacks in Ukraine have given Russian elites plenty of reasons to doubt the wisdom of invading. Last month, a pro-Kremlin tabloid posted an article that claimed 9,861 Russian soldiers had died in Ukraine, more than the United States lost in the entire Iraq War. The tabloid stealth-edited out the casualty figures a few hours later. Also, Russian forces recently launched a new offensive in eastern Ukraine after abandoning their costly attempt to capture the capital city of Kyiv.
Per Bloomberg, "support for Putin's war remains deep across much of Russia's elite" despite stiffer-than-expected Ukrainian resistance. "[P]ublic backing" for the war also "remains strong," as Russian citizens have seen the ruble's value rebound after an initial plunge caused by Western sanctions.
Because of Putin's "total domination of the political system," Bloomberg notes, "alternative views take root only in private," with critics of the war unwilling or unable to challenge Putin publicly.
Putin said during a televised address last month that Russians who side with the West over him are "scum and traitors" who should be removed from Russian society.