VLADIMIR Putin would happily sacrifice 20 million soldiers to ensure he could win in Ukraine and secure his future in the Kremlin, a former insider said.
The chilling warning comes as fears of the war in Ukraine turning nuclear continue to grow as Russia's defence minister said a "dirty bomb" could be detonated in Ukraine.
Exiled former diplomat Boris Bondarev warned Putin would sacrifice millions of lives to win in Ukraine.
"He is not smart, he is just lucky. Now I think his luck is over," Mr Bondarev told Sky News.
"You should have no doubt about it, he may sacrifice 10 or 20 million Russians just to win this war just to slaughter all Ukrainians because it's a matter of principle.
"It's a matter of political survival to him. You have to understand that, if he loses the war, it will be the end for him."
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Bondarev added: "After losing the war, he will have to explain to his elites and his population why it is so and he may find some problems in explaining this.
"And after that there may be opposition who will try to depose him or he will try to purge his subordinates to find some people who could be blamed for all these problems."
Meanwhile, Russian war boss Sergei Shoigu warned that the brutal warzone is risking "uncontrolled escalation" as Putin's forces continue to be pushed back across the frontline.
Shoigu suggested that Ukraine could actually be the one to detonate a "dirty bomb" – an explosive laced with radioactive material.
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And while not a true nuclear weapon, the consequences of using such a device could be catastrophic.
But it has been Russia wildly swinging the nuclear sabre during the war – and the latest allegation could be another diversion tactic.
Putin's forces like to spread as much chaos and misinformation as possible to cover their own tracks.
And so Shoigu's warning sparks fears over what the Russians may be planning as they are beaten back across the frontline.
As expected, Russia presented no evidence for their claims.
Shoigu issued the warning in a telephone call with his British opposite number Ben Wallace.
You should have no doubt about it, he may sacrifice 10 or 20 million Russians just to win this war
It came after the UK MoD boss revealed last week a Russian fighter jet fired a missile near an RAF spy plane over the Black Sea.
Shoigu also had conversations with the French and Turkish defence bosses.
"They discussed the situation in Ukraine which is rapidly deteriorating. It is trending towards further uncontrolled escalation," said a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry.
The dangerous move was put down to a "malfunction" – but only serves to further inflame tensions between the West and Russia.
Putin's war in Ukraine is not going well – and he is also facing problems at home amid growing discontent and yet another of his fighter planes crashing into a civilian area.
Kremlin forces are currently attempting to evacuate the key region of Kherson as they may be plotting to blow up a key dam.
The dam would unleash an 18million ton wall of water – flooding 80 towns and villages to slow the march of the Ukrainians.
Liberating the region – which has been illegally annexed by Mad Vlad – would be a major victory for Ukraine and a further humiliation for Russia.
And it could open the door to a fresh offensive towards Crimea – with some believing the Russian army could even collapse before the end of 2022.
But elsewhere it is feared Putin could launch a new assault towards Kyiv across the border from Belarus.
Vlad would be trying to open a new front in a bid to slow the storming Ukrainian advances in the wartorn country's east and south.
Russia's desperate bid to turn their failing war around has also seen them launch a massive assault on civilian infrastructure.
Missiles and drones are being used to rain down on power stations as the weather gets colder and days get darker.
Yesterday, Putin's strikes left nearly 1.5million Ukrainians in darkness.
It is believed Russia hopes by doing so they may be able to make Kyiv lose hope and give up the defence on their homeland.
Kremlin officials claimed on Saturday they had prevented an attempt by Ukraine to break through its line of control in Kherson.
Kyiv has imposed an information blackout from the Kherson front to prepare for the final push.
And in a rare admission of problems on the battlefield, Russian commander "General Armageddon" Sergei Surovikin said the situation in Kherson was "already difficult".
He chillingly warned Russia was "not ruling out difficult decisions" there.
Putin's commanders believed they could roll over Ukraine in a matter of days – but now the war has been raging for eight months.
They convinced Russia troops they would be greeted with cheers and waving flags as "liberators", instead, they were faced with Kalashnikovs and Molotov cocktails as invaders.
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Vlad's war has become a slow and brutal quagmire – one which has seen the Russians change tactics, moving from attempts at surgical strikes to savage, indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
With further defeats on the horizon, a seemingly hopeless mass mobilisation, and a resurgent Ukraine storming towards their new "territory" – fears are growing the war could escalate once again.
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