Russian leader Vladimir Putin could be unseated by his own generals, if Ukraine continues to make gains in its successful counter-offensives, according to the former head of the British army.
Speaking exclusively to GB News, General Lord Richard Dannatt said strategic losses and rapidly falling morale could open the real possibility of Putin's enforced removal.
But Lord Dannatt said it was vital that Western allies, particularly the United States continued to stay the course in supplying Ukraine with state-of-the-art weapons systems.
More than 10 months on from the Russian invasion, many thousands of Ukraine's citizens have been killed. Upwards of 14 million have been displaced.
At least 140,000 buildings have been destroyed in the relentless bombardment from Russian artillery, missiles, and drones.
But in recent months, against seemingly insurmountable odds, the Ukrainians have been pushing back, in a counter offensive which has made some key gains.
Arguably, the most significant was the recapture of the strategically important southern city of Kherson.
“Ukraine has done fantastically well.” Lord Dannatt said.
“It bore the onslaught on its own. But very quickly the West, NATO and particularly the United States has stood up.”
The General said that the UK, and politicians including Boris Johnson deserve significant credit as well. But he also warned that the West cannot afford to weaken its resolve now.
“Yes, it’s important that the European countries do remain committed. One or two are looking wobbly.
"It's important that European countries stay behind Ukraine, but really important that Uncle Sam stays behind Ukraine. That’s absolutely critical because the sophisticated weaponry that’s going in is the game changer.”
The former head of the British Army said he believed that if Ukraine could keep up that momentum in the months ahead, the Russian President could find it increasingly difficult to cling onto power.
“If they made a significant breakthrough, I could see a set of circumstances where the Russian military’s morale would collapse. When you’ve lost the will to win, when you’ve decided you’re defeated in your own head, then you will lose.
"And of course, if that was to happen, that’s a game changer. I think we could see a change of regime in the Kremlin. I think we could see Putin out.”
Both sides should be digging in for the Winter. But in the Donbas, Ukrainian forces are continuing to put intense pressure on Russian troops in the areas around Kreminna and Svatove. A major breakthrough there would be huge blow to Moscow.
As more Western weapons systems arrive there to help with those counter-offensives, in the UK thousands of Ukrainians have been continuing to receive military training by the British Army.
The General said that the UK, and politicians including Boris Johnson deserve significant credit. TOBY MELVILLE
Around 10,000 Ukrainians are being trained in the UK before returning home to take up the fight.
Talk of a peace summit in February may be premature and unlikely to produce much.
For any peace deal, the core demands of at least one party would need to change, and there is nothing to suggest any side seems willing to shift at present.
Defence analyst Lt Colonel Stuart Crawford believes that in the months ahead, it is vital that Ukraine keeps up its momentum.
Recapturing Crimea, he said, would essentially guarantee their victory.
“He or she who controls the Crimea, or holds the Crimea, basically controls the Black Sea and the entrance to the Sea of Azov. And that is the prize.
"And that’s why Crimea has been fought over so many times in the past. I think if the Ukrainians managed to take Crimea, and they’ll have to take it, because Putin, I don’t think is going to give it up, that might be the point at which they are prepared to negotiate for peace.”
In recent months, Russia has stepped up its strikes on key civilian infrastructure, heaping even more misery on Ukraine’s beleaguered population.
It is a grim pattern. The more military success Ukraine enjoys on the battlefield, the more its battered towns and cities will suffer the effects of increased Russian bombardment.
General Lord Richard Dannatt spoke exclusively to GB News Ben Birchall