Russia and Putin withering amid three assassination plots, US expert claims

A US expert claims Russia is "withering" before our eyes, slamming the country's invasion of Ukraine as "pathetic" amid the assassination attempts against three pro-Russian officials in the last fortnight alone.

The former US Defence Secretary, James Mattis, hit out at the "immoral" and "operationally stupid" war started by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine at the Seoul Forum 2022 on Friday (July 1).

He said: “We have a saying in America, we say that nations with allies thrive, nations without allies wither and we’re watching Russia wither before our eyes right now.

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“The tragedy of our time is that Putin is a creature straight out of Dostoevsky. He goes to bed every night angry, he goes to bed every night fearful, he goes to bed every night thinking that Russia is surrounded by nightmares and this has guided him."

Mr Mattis' comments were made after Russia made the announcement that it would be leaving Ukraine's Snake Island, in what has been dubbed a major setback for Vladimir Putin.

Russia said it had pulled its forces from Snake Island – situated 120km from Ukraine's southern cost – as a "goodwill gesture" – in a bid to allow Kyiv to export agricultural products.

The announcement came after Ukraine carried out several raids on Russian forces on Snake Island, a move that was celebrated as a victory for the invaded nation.

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In a statement, the defence ministry said: “On June 30, as a gesture of goodwill, the Russian armed forces completed their tasks on Snake Island and withdrew a garrison stationed there."

In response, Valeriy Zaluzhny, the Ukraine military’s commander-in-chief, said: “I thank the defenders of Odessa region who took maximum measures to liberate a strategically important part of our territory. Unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes, the occupiers left Snake Island.”

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According to CNN, assassination attempts have also been carried out against three pro-Russian officials in the last fortnight, suggesting a growing resistance movement in southern Ukraine.

All three incidents allegedly took place in the town of Kherson, an area which is strategically important to Russia due to its access to the Black Sea coast and the Crimean peninsula.

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The first attack was carried out on June 16 against the pro-Russian head of Kherson's prison service, Eugeniy Sobolev, when an explosion damaged a vehicle. Sobolev survived.

On June 24, Dmitry Savluchenko, the pro-Russian official in charge of the Department of Youth and Sports for the Kherson region, was killed in another car explosion.

And earlier this week, another car belonging to a third pro-Russian official was targeted in the town, although the unnamed target survived.

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