Updated: 19:42 BST, 6 September 2023
The Kremlin is hoping that a second Trump presidency would see support for Kyiv dwindle, with the Ukrainian counteroffensive relying heavily on sustained Western backing.
Trump has pledged to immediately end the war in Ukraine if re-elected, threatening to cut off military aid and convince Kyiv to sacrifice territory in the east – something Ukraine has vowed it will not do.
While progress in Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been slower than hoped, the official said, Putin’s ‘gamble’ on Trump re-entering the Oval office in November next year is a risky one as the Russian ranks continue to be eroded.
‘Russia thinks time is on its side, we think times is on our side,’ the official said.
‘It has been put that if you’re Putin you’re gambling that Donald Trump wins the next election. But that is quite a long way away.’
Vladimir Putin is ‘gambling’ on Donald Trump winning the 2024 US election and ending the superpower’s backing for Ukraine, according to Western officials
Ukrainian servicemen ride a tank near the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region, on August 25
Officials admitted that a major breakthrough by Ukrainian forces is unlikely to be made before winter, but encouraged observers to look at the bigger picture rather than ‘focusing on such tactical issues’.
‘Russia has lost either killed or wounded over 270,000 people and [destroyed] over a couple of thousand tanks, and if you add that to armoured fighting vehicles [it is] over 4,000 fighting vehicles.
‘There has been an enormous drain on Russia, and particularly its army and its combat effectiveness,’ the official said.
‘And then in the broadest base, you’re seeing Russia under economic pressure and under diplomatic pressure.’
Trump is not the only Republican candidate who has aimed to secure votes by reducing spending on Ukraine.
Another frontrunner in the race for the presidency, Vivek Ramaswamy, has been accused of being soft on the Kremlin.
The 38-year-old tycoon’s position on the war – if he were to win the race – would be to freeze the battle lines in Ukraine, allowing Russia keep the Donbas region.
Texas Governor Ron De Santis has also been vocal about diverting funds from Ukraine to focus on tackling illegal migration from Mexico.
Trump has pledged to immediately end the war in Ukraine if re-elected, threatening to cut off military aid and convince Kyiv to sacrifice territory in the east
Another frontrunner in the race for the presidency, Vivek Ramaswamy , has been accused of being soft on the Kremlin
Meanwhile Trump’s former Vice President, Mike Pence, slammed his plans to ‘end the war in a day’, reasserting his support for Kyiv.
‘I think it ends by giving the Ukrainians what they need to win,’ he said in July.
‘I mean, there’s some talk, my former running mate likes to talk about solving it in a day. The only way you’d solve this war in a day is if you gave Vladimir Putin what he wanted.’
It comes as the first British Challenger II tank was put out of action near Zaporizhzhia by Putin’s forces earlier this week.
Some Western politicians have warned that ‘war fatigue’ could take hold if progress continues to be slow, however steady progress has been indicated by recent gains.
Putin has seen some of his top commanders killed and his most advanced military hardware fail during his stuttering invasion.
A prominent US think-tank has claimed that nearly 50 of Vladimir Putin‘s elite soldiers were killed in one day in another battlefield coup for Ukraine.
A laser-guided Swedish-supplied RBS-70 portable air-defence system gunned down the helicopter from a field near the village of Robotyne
A new video shows the aircraft ablaze in a field with black smoke billowing into the sky. A helicopter lands close to the wreckage, and appears to inspect the damage before flying off
Ukraine’s troops are thought to have pinned down some of Russia’s elite soldiers in Donetsk, stopping them from redeploying to a key part of the front line, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said.
Some 49 soldiers of the 7th VDV Division were killed in one day of fighting near the village of Staromayorske, with Russian commanders reportedly not overseeing the retrieval of bodies, the US think-tank said, citing a Russian military blogger who posted an audio recording purportedly from a Russian soldier.