According to officials in Kiev, Putin has started the countdown to war with Ukraine

During his combat shift, a Ukrainian service member of an air defense unit sets up a portable air defense system i...

The Wagner Group's mutiny, its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, its repercussions for Vladimir Putin, and the way the war in Ukraine is being fought are the center of attention in the Ukrainian capital.

The drama surrounding the Russian border has strengthened the belief in Kiev that Mr. Putin's tenure as Russian president is coming to an end.

Andriy Yermak, the closest advisor to President Zelensky, said, "I think the countdown has started.".

In Kyiv, he reflected on the year when Russia first invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

The world is now aware of what Ukraine has been experiencing since 2014, according to Mr. Yermak.

"This [Russia] is a country that sponsors terrorism, and its leader is a deficient individual who has lost touch with reality. The world must come to the conclusion that there is no chance of developing a genuine relationship with that nation. " .

Senior Ukrainian officials who spoke to the BBC in Kyiv all argued that President Putin would not be able to survive a disastrous loss of power.

They claimed that it all began when he made the disastrous choice to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of last year. They claimed that the Wagner rebellion and Mr. Prigozhin's criticism of the Kremlin's justifications for the war had eliminated Mr. Putin's chances of holding on.

One of them proclaimed that "the Putin regime cannot be saved. ".

It is crucial to keep in mind that anything Ukrainians, particularly those in power, say about their adversaries in Russia is said during a conflict that they correctly perceive as a fight for the survival of their country.

The Ukrainians have waged a cunning media campaign, and they are remarkably consistent in the messages they convey to their own people, their allies in the West, as well as their adversaries in Moscow.

In the evaluations they provide to journalists, wishful thinking must be a factor.

Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to take the time to learn their perspectives on the crisis that has engulfed their mortal enemy Vladimir Putin's presidency.

He is unquestionably up against the biggest threat to his authority since he took office in 2000.

Other top government officials in Kiev claim to be convinced that Mr. Putin is being opposed by covert but organized networks of disgruntled insiders.

Oleksiy Danilov, the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine's secretary, said to the BBC from his office: "Prigozhin is not the most senior. They may evolve into the new political elite.

Security personnel, government representatives, and oligarchs, according to Mr. Danilov, believe that Mr. Putin's decision to invade Ukraine fully in February of last year has been both a personal disaster for them and a danger to Russia.

When I asked Mr. Danilov, a man in his early sixties sporting his last name on a badge on his chest and dressed in a black military-style outfit, if he had evidence to support his theory, he tensely reacted for a brief period.

He was adamant, "I'm not speculating. "We are aware of the identities and pasts of these individuals. " .

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky
According to Mykhailo Podolyak, the Wagner mutiny did not last long enough to have an impact on the fighting.

There are "several groups of people who want to take power in Russia," according to Mykhailo Podolyak, another trusted adviser to President Zelensky.

He asserted that a near power vacuum was replacing the authoritarian, top-down system that Mr. Putin had built.

Further speculating that President Putin would be forced to fire both his Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in the event of yet another military defeat, another senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity went further.

One of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner mutineers' main demands was that the two men be fired.

The official predicted that Prigozhin would achieve his goals. His political career is still active. In exile in Belarus, he won't remain. "  .

Regarding Ukraine's offensive, Mr. Podolyak claimed that the Wagner mutiny did not last long enough to have an impact on the fighting along a front that stretched 1,800 kilometers, making it the longest warfront since 1945.

Even the most detached observer of the conflict can see that Ukraine is fighting valiantly but is suffering losses of personnel and equipment, including NATO-supplied armor.

The official, who requested anonymity, raised his hand and pinched the air with his finger and thumb, about half an inch apart, when I questioned him about recent tactical successes in the east, including a few small villages.

Although he expressed hope that this might change, his message was that progress has been painful, slow, and limited.

Map showing areas of Russian control in Ukraine

Senior Ukrainians continue to try their hardest to control expectations for the summer offensive. They think some of their Western allies, as well as their supporters in the media, have gotten overly enthusiastic about the Ukrainian army and its NATO-provided equipment.

Some Ukrainian officials acknowledged the worry that keeps Western leaders up at night: that if President Putin's regime were to publicly fall, his potential successors would struggle for control in the nation with the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, which could put real people in danger.

The Nato summit, which will be held in Lithuania the following month, will undoubtedly place that topic high on the agenda.

The summit should provide President Zelensky and his advisors with a clear and unambiguous path toward joining NATO. They think that putting up an iron wall in Moscow would be the best solution to the unrest in Russia.

However, the unpredictability surrounding President Putin and his government, nearly a year and a half into a disastrous war, and following the Wagner drama, may increase the anxiety of those Nato countries who would prefer the war to end at the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield.

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