Putin exits plane after arriving in Belarus
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Vladimir Putin took the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to his ex-mistress’s strip club in St Petersburg. The Russian leader treated his guests at The Leningrad Centre as he faces a revolt in public opinion over his continuing invasion of Ukraine.
Putin also gifted his guests with a white and gold “ring of power” to mark the event, reports on the Project Media website and the Kommersant newspaper claim.
The strip club is majority-owned by Putin’s alleged ex-mistress Svetlana Krivonogikh, 47, now one of Russia’s wealthiest women.
Putin has been trying to secure his alliance with ex-Soviet counterparts in a series of summits since the start of his invasion of Ukraine.
In November, Putin travelled to Armenia for a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).
The Moscow-led group of ex-Soviet states met in Armenia’s capital Yerevan.
Vladimir Putin was expecting to project Russia’s power at the meeting but it looked as if Moscow’s recent lack of interest in his partners caused some cracks in the alliance.
At the end of the summit, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan clashed with the Russian leader over Putin’s reluctance to come to his aid in a conflict against Azerbaijan.
Tensions rose in September between Armenia and Azerbaijan and two sides say more than 200 soldiers died in the conflict.
Mr Pashinyan told his counterparts at the summit: “It is depressing that Armenia’s membership in the CSTO did not deter Azerbaijan from aggressive actions.
“Right up to today we have not managed to reach a decision on a CSTO response to Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia. These facts do grave harm to the image of the CSTO both inside our country and outside its borders, and I consider this the main failure of Armenia’s chairmanship of the CSTO.”
Putin’s popularity is also dropping at home, with more people coming out against his war on Ukraine.
Experts now claim the conflict come soon come to an end as Kyiv continues to make progress on the battlefield.
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Former United States Army General Ben Hodges told the BBC: “Things will move slower over the winter but…by January, Ukraine could be in a position to begin the final phase of the campaign which is the liberation of Crimea.
“When I see the determination of the Ukrainian people and soldiers, and the rapidly improving logistical situation for Ukraine, I see no other outcome but a Russian defeat.
“The Russian pull-out from Kherson has partly led me to this conclusion, firstly as a psychological boost for the Ukrainian people, secondly as a profound embarrassment for the Kremlin, and thirdly by handing Ukraine’s forces a key operational advantage – all approaches into Crimea are now within range of Ukrainian weapon systems.”
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