Ukraine LIVE: How Putin's loyal defence minister can take top spot when he dies

Vladimir Putin ‘is a psychopath with no empathy’ claims Browder

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Reports have claimed Putin is suffering from cancer, Parkinson’s and other illnesses, despite his spokesman saying the leaders health is “excellent”.

Dr Sarah Whitmore, an expert in Russian domestic politics at Oxford Brookes University, told The Mirror Initially Mikhail Mishustin, the Prime Minister, would automatically assume power if Putin died in office.

She then said defence minister Sergei Shoigu could be named as Putin’s successor.

She said: “If Putin were to suddenly die from an illness then people would have to be told and there has to be a sort of succession organised.

“According to the constitution, the Prime Minister takes over and then an election needs to be organised within three months.

“It is very likely the regime around Putin would choose a suitable trustworthy successor to suit their interests.

“Someone we know like Shoigu, he’s been touted as a potential successor and seen as a popular and acceptable face.

“Or it could be someone we don’t know like how Putin came in – he was a nobody at the time.

“Who may even be more hardline. Where there seem to be expressions of discontent, it has tended to be critical that Putin isn’t going sufficiently hard in Ukraine and that he has been too gentle.”

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Putin’s defence minister tipped as successor

Putin’s defence minister tipped as successor should he die in office (Image: GETTY)

Dylan Donnelly

Putin flaunts thermonuclear missiles as terrifying weapons roll through Red Square

Russia will flaunt its thermonuclear missiles in its Victory Day parade in a grim warning to the West.

This year, Putin’s Russia will show off the thermonuclear RS-24 Yars ballistic missile, which experts believe can can carry up to 10 warheads.

The missile was driven past rows of armed guards on a 16-wheeler vehicle during rehearsals on Saturday. 

The intercontinental weapon, which weighs 49.6 tonnes, can travel up to 24,500km/hr and is capable of hitting targets up to 12,000km away.

The missiles effective range means it could strike London or New York within minutes according to experts.

Dylan Donnelly

Joe Biden’s ‘dream to see Putin fall’ could tilt conflict into ‘total, endless war’

America’s dream of “seeing Putin fall” and the US-UK’s mounting war efforts could tilt the conflict in Ukraine into a full-blown war, warns a former ambassador.

Speaking to French broadcaster LCI, France’s former ambassador to the UN and the US Gérard Araud warns: “I think obviously it would be a dream for the Americans to see Putin fall.”

With military support, both the US and UK are hoping to help Ukrainians defend themselves against Russian forces and safeguard their territory while also getting back the lost regions of Crimea and part of Donbas.

Mr Araud continued: “So if we’re aiming for that, it means a total war, a war that won’t end.

“So, we can ask ourselves – again, and this is not the first time in history – we can ask ourselves whether our Anglo-Saxon friends, as they are called – the British and the Americans – are not moving upmarket, if I may say so, in their war aims.”

Dylan Donnelly

Desperate Putin plots national call-up as panicked Russian civilians to be forced into war

Russian civilians are expected to be called up in a mass mobilisation of armed forces as Vladimir Putin becomes increasingly desperate in the face of humiliating losses in Ukraine.

Civilians in Moscow reacted to the reports with panic, telling Sky News that they were “very afraid” of being called up. 

Sky News diplomatic editor Dominic Waghorn interviewed ordinary Russians on the streets of Moscow about the speculation.

One Russian man responded: “I’m very afraid, I obviously don’t want it to happen.”

Another said: “If you’re interested in whether I would like to go, no, I don’t want to.”

A third added: “As a law-abiding citizen, I wouldn’t have a choice, so it’s not my choice.”

Dylan Donnelly

Lavrov looks worried as he appears for first time since Putin forced into apology

Sergei Lavrov has been seen for the first time since Vladimir Putin reportedly issued a grovelling apology to Israel over the Russian Foreign Minister’s Hitler comments.

Mr Lavrov on Friday attended a flower-laying ceremony in commemoration of former Soviet Union Foreign Ministry officials who died during World War Two.

It is the first time the Russian Foreign Minister has broken cover in nearly a week since claiming that Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins.

Dylan Donnelly

‘Just appalling’ Hungary wants EU money before agreeing to bloc oil ban on Russia

Hungary has issued a warning that it cannot accept the EU’s planned ban on Russian oil as it would amount to an “atomic bomb” for its economy, threatening to scupper the bloc’s sixth sanctions package against Moscow.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban reiterated earlier statements from Hungarian officials that Hungary would not support a new round of proposed EU sanctions against Russia if they included a ban on Russian oil exports.

Mr Orban said that while his government is willing to negotiate on any EU proposals that are in Hungary’s interests, the country’s geography and existing energy infrastructure make a shutdown of Russian oil unfeasible.

Belgian politician Guy Verhofstadt tweeted: “Orbán wants EU taxpayer’s money to agree an EU oil ban against Russia. Just appalling.

“His blackmail makes the EU dysfunctional, a gift for the murderers in the Kremlin. Time for reform, time to end unanimity in EUCO.”

Dylan Donnelly

‘Psychopath’ Putin could ‘kill a million’ as Russian leader’s ‘only fear’ exposed

Bill Browder, the American-British financier and one of Putin’s most wanted, slammed the Russian dictator, branding him a psychopath.

Mr Browder said: “I was never close to him, I never met him actually. But I think that he is never been in mental good health, I believe he’s a psychopath.

“The closest person I could compare him to is the fictional character Hannibal Lecter. The only thing different between Putin and Hannibal Lecter is that Putin isn’t a cannibal.

“But everything else is the same. His heartbeat doesn’t start going faster when someone is being killed right in front of him.

“He could kill 100, 1000, 10,000 or a million and it wouldn’t affect his feelings at all.

“He has no feelings of empathy whatsoever, he’s a cold-blooded killer and the only thing he feels is fear for his own safety.”

Dylan Donnelly

‘We will not comply’ – Wikipedia hits back at Putin’s censorious crackdown

Wikipedia has hit back at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to censor the site and move to a domestically made version of the site.

The news comes following a discussion between Putin and Maxim Dreval, the CEO of the state-sponsored Znanie Foundation, a group tasked with improving Russia’s civil society. 

Speaking with Mr Dreval, Putin said: “Objective, useful, thought-through, but also beautifully and masterfully presented information is in high demand because it is impossible to use Wikipedia alone.”

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, a Wikipedia foundation spokesperson said the group will not comply with Putin’s coercion.

The spokesperson said: “Russian-language Wikipedia is a crucial second draft of history, written by and for Russian speakers around the world who volunteer their time to make reliable, neutral information available to all.

“Volunteers who write and maintain Wikipedia apply standards of neutrality, verifiability, and reliable secondary sources to ensure articles are based in fact.

“Access to good information is even more important during times of crisis.

“The Wikimedia Foundation will continue to defend the ability of volunteers to contribute knowledge on Wikipedia.”

Dylan Donnelly

ICYMI: Putin loses MORE key men – 11 Russian snipers captured by Ukraine as war plot crumbles

Putin’s army has been rocked by the loss of more key personnel after 11 Russian snipers who fired at Ukrainian positions were captured by rival forces in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

The Ukraine Security Service reportedly captured 11 Russian snipers who had fired on their positions.

Independent Ukrainian media service Hromadske Int tweeted: “Security Service informed of daily special operations throughout Ukraine.

“During such an operation in Kharkiv Oblast, 11 Russian snipers were captured who fired on Ukrainian positions, @ServiceSsu reported.

“In total 140 enemy groups were eliminated & 4,000 collaborators exposed.”

Dylan Donnelly

Putin’s key ally Lukashenko says using nukes in Ukraine would be ‘unacceptable’

Vladimir Putin has seen key Belarussian ally Alexander Lukashenko say nuclear weapons being used in Ukraine is an “unacceptable” scenario.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Mr Lukashenko suggested the use of nuclear weapons is too close to home.

He said: “It would be unacceptable because it’s right next to us.

“We are not across the ocean like the United States.

“It is also unacceptable because it might knock our terrestrial ball flying off the orbit to who knows where.

“Whether or not Russia is capable of that — is a question you need to ask the Russian leadership.”

Dylan Donnelly

How Putin’s loyal defence minister could take over if health rumours are true

Vladimir Putin’s health has reportedly spiralled in recent weeks, with his defence minister tipped to take over should the Russian leader die.

Reports have claimed Putin is suffering from cancer, Parkinson’s and other illnesses, despite his spokesman saying the leaders health is “excellent”.

Dr Sarah Whitmore, an expert in Russian domestic politics at Oxford Brookes University, told The Mirror Initially Mikhail Mishustin, the Prime Minister, would automatically assume power if Putin died in office.

She then said defence minister Sergei Shoigu could be named as Putin’s successor.

She said: “If Putin were to suddenly die from an illness then people would have to be told and there has to be a sort of succession organised.

“According to the constitution, the Prime Minister takes over and then an election needs to be organised within three months.

“It is very likely the regime around Putin would choose a suitable trustworthy successor to suit their interests.

“Someone we know like Shoigu, he’s been touted as a potential successor and seen as a popular and acceptable face.

“Or it could be someone we don’t know like how Putin came in – he was a nobody at the time.

“Who may even be more hardline. Where there seem to be expressions of discontent, it has tended to be critical that Putin isn’t going sufficiently hard in Ukraine and that he has been too gentle.”

Dylan Donnelly

Good morning

My name is Dylan Donnelly, bringing you the latest on the Ukraine invasion, Russia, NATO and Vladimir Putin.

Feel free to get in touch at dylan.donnelly@reachplc.com

Harry Byrne

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