Putin loses grip on reality Leader paranoid and risking death in blaze of glory

Ukraine: Dan Wootton slams ‘Hitler-lite’ Vladimir Putin for invasion

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The Russian President made an address in the early hours of Thursday morning announcing an invasion on his neighbouring country. He declared his intention to “de-militarise” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Sherelle Jacobs, columnist for the Telegraph, suggested his pronouncement sounded as if it had been expelled from another century.

She said: “It was a bizarre invocation of the 19th-century Russian imperial trinity, Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and narodnost (noble people).”

This helped to establish Ms Jacobs’s view that Putin’s “grip on reality is slipping”.

Describing the invasion as a “shock-and-awe-assault”, Ms Jacobs adds: “Putin is clearly a leader who has deeply internalised his country’s historic wounds.

“The fear is that he has recklessly decided he would rather risk defeat in a blaze of glory than endure a sickly demise – both for himself and his country.”

Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, who lived in Russia at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse, went one step further, declaring, upon news of the invasion: “Vladimir Putin turns out to be stark staring mad.”

He added in a post on Twitter: “Aggressive war is a crime. Nothing excuses it.”

Claims of madness do not discount from discussions of Putin’s intentions.

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Some have suggested the Nazi narrative was being used to justify an attack.

But Mr Hitchens described this as a “crude and useless as an explanation of events”.

For Ms Jacobs, the Russian President’s legacy might have more to do with it.

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She said: “One cannot discount the prospect that Putin’s attack on Ukraine is a scramble to shore up a legacy – both for himself and Russia – and at the same time save his own skin.

“Russia is a dying country with a resplendent history.

“Once a vast empire, it is now a peripheral, ageing, middle-income nation, comparable to Africa in its over-reliance on natural resources.”

She added: “At the same time, one way or another, the end of 69-year-old Putin’s mediocre reign is approaching.”

Reports on Thursday evening suggested only around half of Russia’s battalion tactical groups near Ukraine have so far been committed to attack.

Ukrainian morale is believed to be low.

This is unsurprising, given reports of its military being “outgunned and outnumbered across land, sea and air”.

Larisa Brown, defence editor at the Times, said this could be destroyed by Russian forces “within 72 hours”.

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