Putin grimaces and grips desk as Zolotov reports

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Ukraine’s military claims it has broken through Russia’s first line of defence in the occupied Kherson region. Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive in the six-month war was reported by an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday night, although Russia branded the operation a “failure”. Mr Zelensky warned Putin’s troops to leave Ukraine, saying: “If they want to survive, it is time … to flee”.

More than 47,000 Russians have been killed in the war since it began in February, according to Ukraine’s military.

In recent weeks, Putin launched a new military recruitment drive and signed a decree to beef up Russian army numbers.

As the Russian President continues his war efforts, a leading military expert has mapped out two possible scenarios where he may finally stop sending soldiers to fight in Ukraine.

One scenario would be if the West ramped up its economic sanctions against Russia, according to Dr John Callahan, a former diplomat and State Department spokesperson.

Asked what could make Putin stop the war, he told Express.co.uk: “If the oil sanctions were really locked down and complete.

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“Their economy really would just collapse, that would make them stop.”

He added: “I think that winter is going to suck for them. It may suck in Europe too.

“But unlike Europe, they do not really have any recourse. And with more and more casualties…”

Dr John Callahan, who works as a military adviser and a dean at New England College, has been conducting his own research into the war in Ukraine and analysing the conflict for Express.co.uk.

The expert claimed the second scenario in which Putin could halt the war would be if Ukraine gained a large area of Russian-occupied territory.

He said: “It is super hard to predict. It is like predicting the end of the Cold War, what were the indicators?

“If the Ukrainians somehow manage a real territorial gain, if they somehow got back in the Donbas or took Crimea back on their own, that might make Russia stop.

“But otherwise, it is sort of like, how many people have to die to make the Russians finally realise that they are done? It is really difficult to tell.”

Crimea is Ukraine’s southern peninsula, which was illegally invaded and annexed by Russia in 2014 and has served as a major staging post for Russian troops during the current war.

However, Ukraine has ramped up attacks in the peninsula in recent weeks, including strikes on Russia’s Saki Air Base and Russia’s naval base at Sevastopol.

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The other area Dr Callahan referred to, the Donbas, is the name given to Ukraine’s eastern former industrial heartland, comprising the large regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

The territory, which is home to millions of Russian-speaking people, is seen as a key target for Putin in the war.

Dr Callahan claimed that there may be a retreat of Russian forces to the Donbas as Putin “runs out of manpower” amid Russia’s climbing death toll.

He said: “You start adding up the numbers and they really do not have the manpower to continue a huge frontal offensive.

“And that is why they don’t. They focus on the Donbas where they think they can get some superiority.”

He added: “It appears that their ability to produce high-tech gear is diminished.

“It is still there but those assembly lines are not much different from the assembly lines that we have in the UK and in the US. They are producing a couple of vehicles a month.”

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