Putin’s invasion plans in chaos as record Covid cases devastate Russia – new date drawn up

War with Russia over Ukraine is '80% likely' says expert

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As of January 31, new daily Covid cases in Russia soared to 124,070, up from 121,228 a day earlier. The Russian Government’s coronavirus task force also reported 621 deaths in the last 24 hours on the same date. But the spike in cases has come at an awful time for the Kremlin. That is because Russia looks eager to launch an invasion of Ukraine, with reports that 100,000 Russian troops are piled up at the Ukraine-Russia border.

Brandon Weichert, author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower, told Express.co.uk said this may put Russia’s plans in tatters as it could push back an invasion date.

He said: ”In terms of preparation for the Russian military, we do know that the Russians have been sitting on the other side of the Ukraine border freezing their rear ends off for some period of time now.

“It is possible that COVID infects and propagates the troops which could impact their fighting capabilities.”

Mr Weichert believes Mr Putin has earmarked the week of February 20 for his invasion, but “failing that” he says the move could be delayed until May or June “when the weather is more conducive.”

Mr Weichert also suggested that the Russian army could be a weaker force due to the Covid spike, making its invasion look less threatening.

He told Express.co.uk: “If it’s February 20, given the propagation time for COVID-19, that could harm Russian warfighting capabilities if a large number of their troops deployed to Ukraine come down with the illness.”

But should Russia wait until the summer to launch an invasion, Mr Weichert said the warmer weather “might help to mitigate any risk of COVID”.

And Mr Weichert stressed that even if Russia is being hit by another Covid wave, it will not stop Mr Putin from ultimately invading.

He said: “The bottom line, though, is that I do not think COVID will directly prevent a Russian annexation of Eastern Ukraine.

“I remain convinced that the Putin regime has made the decision that now is the time to go for it and, whether it be this winter or summer, I’ve seen nothing yet that indicates they will bugger off from this course of action.”

But there is even the chance that the soaring Covid cases could speed up an invasion.

Mr Weichert said: “If anything, the rise of COVID in Russia might force Putin to put everything on the line now while Putin has his forces in place rather than wait for the disease to totally destabilize Russia’s domestic political and economic scene – especially now that Russia is making so much money off the high price of fossil fuels on the global market.”

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In fact, Mr Putin has been accused of deliberately withholding gas deliveries to Europe to bump up the price of gas.

And as Russia’s vast network of pipelines supplies around 40 percent of the EU’s natural gas, the Russian President has been accused of using gas as a geopolitical weapon.

Europe’s prices have soared to record highs in recent months, while Russia’s state-owned giant Gazprom has seen its profits soar.

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