VLADIMIR Putin’s panicked cronies are secretly reaching out to the West to try and bring Russia’s disastrous war in Ukraine to an end, intelligence chiefs have alleged.
Russia’s elite are increasingly despairing about the sanctions imposed on the country in the wake of Vlad’s bloody invasion and are trying to negotiate for peace, a senior Kremlin official is reported to have claimed.
A key ally of Putin has reportedly reached out to the West in secret peace talksCredit: AP
Russian soldiers are still bogged down in fighting in southern and eastern UkraineCredit: Getty
Fierce fighting continues around Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – despite international outrageCredit: Reuters
A document believed to have been circulated around Western intelligence agencies and supposedly seen by The Mirror said: “A representative of Putin’s inner circle sent a signal about the desire to negotiate.
“The mood of the Kremlin elite is panic.”
Putin’s backstabbing official isn’t named in the document but has been described as a “pillar of the regime” in Russia.
Ukraine believes high-ranking Kremlin officials are attempting to reach out to Western intelligence agencies behind Putin’s back, a Kyiv diplomatic source told The Mirror.
“It is often the case as happened in the closing stages of the Second World War that officials on a side concerned about their future make approaches to ensure it,” they said.
They added that many of the Russian elite have enjoyed the freedom of living in the West and are worried about losing it, but are too scared of what Putin might do to them to speak out.
Any leading official who criticised the war would put themselves and their families in extreme danger if they were named.
A number of top officials have even fallen ill or died in mysterious circumstances in recent months.
Last month, one of Putin’s key rivals was reportedly poisoned in an attempted assassination.
Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian security council, has been described in some circles as the only person that Putin truly trusts.
The war is now into its seventh month, and troops remain bogged down across the south and east of Ukraine.
Fears are growing of a disaster at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia after Russian troops were accused of turning it into a military base.
Last week, tensions flared as rockets landed just 10 metres from the nuclear plant.
The mood of the Kremlin elite is panic
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that any Russian soldier who either shoots at the nuclear plant or shelters there will be seen as a “special target”.
He said that his country had proposed peace talks to Putin’s leadership for months with no progress.
“So we have to defend ourselves, we have to answer every form of terror, every instance of shelling – the fierce shelling which does not let up for a single day,” he said.
Kyiv has insisted that Crimea – which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014 – be returned to Ukraine before any peace deal can be reached.
Russia has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing at the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia plant in the south of Ukraine.
It insists it took control of the plant to prevent any radioactive material from leaking during fighting in the region.
Fighting in Kherson remains fierce, with Russia battling to consolidate territoryCredit: Reuters
At the same time, Russian troops are struggling to make significant gains in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Luhansk.
These two regions form Donbas, a region with a Russian minority population and a key target of Moscow, after its original plan to quickly take over the whole of Ukraine fell apart within weeks.
Today, the UK Ministry of Defence warned that the head of the so-called pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic is trying to force through a referendum to make the Donbas part of Russia.
“The Kremlin will likely see the military’s failure to occupy the entirety of Donetsk Oblast thus far as a setback for its maximalist objectives in Ukraine,” it said.
It comes as calls grow for European countries to ban Russian tourist visas in response to the war in Ukraine.
European Union countries including the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland and Latvia, as well as Ukraine, have called for limits or blocking of short-term Schengen visas for Russians.
This follows frustrations with ordinary Russians for their failure to effectively resist the war being waged in their name, with some actively supporting it while abroad.
Estonia’s President Kaja Kallas sparked a furious response last week from Putin’s crony Dmitry Medvedev when she wrote on Twitter that for Russians, “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right”.
She later said: “It shows that this is the Achilles’ heel. This is something that they are really afraid of, so it is effective.”
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