One of Vladimir Putin‘s top military chiefs was reportedly arrested this week as the Russian president moved to “purify” his ranks of apparent traitors.
General Roman Gavrilov, the deputy head of the national guard, was arrested in a reported purge of military and intelligence chiefs by the FSB state security service, according to sources cited by Bellingcat, the investigative journalism group.
Read Also: ‘Putin Chose This War, And Now He And His Country Will Bear The Consequences’ – Biden Announces New Sanctions On Russia For Invading Ukraine
Russian forces have come up against stiff Ukrainian resistance since Moscow launched the invasion on 24 February.
The US claims that at least 7,000 Russian troops have been killed so far.
Ukraine president’s Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier this week his forces had suffered an estimated 1,300 casualties.
Read Also: “He Has No Idea What’s Coming” – Biden Threatens To Punish Putin Over Ukraine Invasion
The losses and slow pace of the invasion are said to have angered Mr Putin, who lashed out at “traitors” this week in televised remarks.
“Russian people are able to distinguish between true patriots and scum and traitors, and simply spit them out like a fly that flew into their mouths,” he told an online meeting of his cabinet.
Read Also: ‘Beijing Will Pay A Price If It Supports Russia’s War In Ukraine’ – Biden Warns China’s Xi As Both Leaders Prepare To Meet
“I am convinced that a natural and necessary self-purification of society will strengthen our country,” he added.
James Heappey, the UK Armed Forces minister, said Mr Putin’s language was “fanatical” and “hugely dangerous”.
“There’s a desperation that might make him consider a course of action we would view as very dangerous indeed,” Mr Heappey told The Telegraph on Thursday.
“I’m deeply concerned about where his state of mind is at and how desperate he may become.”
Developments with the Kremlin were evidence of “real discord” at the top of Russia’s high command, he added.
Russia expanded its missile strikes to Lviv in the west of Ukraine as British intelligence suggested Mr Putin’s invasion had made only “minimal progress” this week.
Speaking to broadcasters on Friday morning, Mr Heappey said early morning attack on the city that has swelled with people sheltering from elsewhere in Ukraine showed Russia was broadening its strikes.
Andriy Sadovyi, Lviv’s mayor, said several missiles hit a facility for repairing military planes near the city’s international airport and also damaged a bus repair site.
Shelling around the capital of Kyiv also continued as the number of refugees estimated to have fled exceeded 3.4 million.
Photo Credit: Getty