What is playing for time for Putin?

Vladimir V. Putin Addressed the September 30 Battle of Kiev: The Russians Are Counting the Anglo-Saxons in the Cold War

Sept. 30: Putin signed documents claiming Russia is annexing four regions from Ukraine, but world powers refuse to recognize it. Ukraine applied for “accelerated” NATO membership.

Once the process is officially over, Moscow will recognize two of the three Russian-backed republics in eastern Europe as Russian territories, including Luhansk and DONETSK.

Putin, however, attempted to claim that the referendums reflected the will of “millions” of people, despite reports from the ground suggesting that voting took place essentially – and in some cases, literally – at gunpoint.

“I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me. For everyone to remember. The people living in Luhansk are becoming citizens. The Russian president stated during the annexation ceremony that it would be forever.

The Russian president sees the annexation as a way for him to fix something that happened after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Putin said in his speech that restoring Russia to a major global power would protect the Russian speaking world from the continued threat posed by Western forces.

Russia will go ahead with its plans to fly its flag over 100,000 square km of Ukrainian territory despite condemnation from the international community.

The Russian leader spoke in the chandeliered St. George’s Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace — the same place where he declared in March 2014 that the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea was part of Russia.

Hundreds of Russian members of Parliament and regional governors sat in the audience for Mr. Putin’s speech, as well as many of his cabinet ministers and the four Russian-imposed leaders of the occupied Ukrainian regions.

As Russia reels from its military failure in Lyman, the Kremlin has sought to use its propaganda channels to amplify President Vladimir V. Putin’s core argument — emphasized in his bellicose speech on Friday — that in Ukraine, Russia is at war with the collective West, whom he calls “Anglo-Saxons.”

He reeled off a litany of Western military actions stretching over centuries — from the British Opium War in China in the 19th century to Allied firebombings of Germany and the Vietnam and Korean Wars.

He said the United States was the only country to have used nuclear weapons. They created a precedent, said Mr. Putin.

Putin’s Battle of Lyman: On Russia’s Final Days of Operation and Dec. 5 In Ukraine, And The End Of Lyman-Like Wars In Ukraine

Russia launched another barrage of strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy grid Dec. 5, knocking out electricity and water for many residents. Five days later, Russian attacks left over a million people without power in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa.

There will be a celebration on Red Square. The decree will be official next week according to the spokesman for the Kremlin.

There were referendums held in occupied territory in defiance of international law. Much of the provinces’ civilian populations has fled fighting since the war began in February, and people who did vote sometimes did so at gunpoint.

If Russia were to cement its hold over the two eastern regions, it could allow the Kremlin to declare a victory at a time when it is facing criticism for not doing enough to stop the gains of Ukrainian forces.

Many Russians who had not experienced the war had been brought to tears by the tumult and protests that followed Mr. Putin’s order for the military to be drafted. Many men have been drafted who were supposed to be ineligible based on factors like age or disability.

Mr. Putin is going to give a speech that will bevoluminous. He is likely to downplay his military’s struggles in Ukraine and rising domestic dissent. He is likely to ignore the denunciations of the discredited referendums held in occupied Ukraine on joining Russia.

Russia’s retreat from Lyman, which sits on a riverbank that has served as a natural division between the Russian and Ukrainian front lines, came after weeks of fierce fighting.

A day earlier, two powerful Putin supporters railed against the Kremlin and called for using harsher fighting methods because Lyman had fallen just as Moscow was declaring that the illegally annexed region it lies in would be Russian forever.

In an unusually candid article published Sunday, the prominent Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that in the last few days of their occupation, Russian forces in Lyman had been plagued by desertion, poor planning and the delayed arrival of reserves.

On Russia’s flagship Sunday political show, “News of the Week,” on Channel 1, the fall of Lyman wasn’t even mentioned until after more than an hour of laudatory coverage of Russia’s growth from 85 to 89 regions in an annexation most of the world views as illegal.

The War with the West: A Cold War Between Russia and the West? Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Dugin, Alexander Baunov, Vlasov

But the soldiers interviewed on the Sunday broadcast said they had been forced to retreat because they were fighting not only with Ukrainians, but with NATO soldiers.

These are not toys anymore. They are a part of a NATO and army onslaught, the deputy commander of one Russian battalion told the war correspondent. The soldier insisted that his unit had been intercepting discussions by Romanian and Polish soldiers, not Ukrainians, on their radios.

The broadcast was intended to convince Russians who have doubts about the war or feel angry over the plans to call in 300,000 people that the West is bent on destroying Russia.

The father of a prominent nationalist commentator, who died in a car bomb, believes that Russia is fighting a broader campaign and repeated this idea in an interview.

But to apply the special case of negotiation — with few parameters and a narrow range of outcomes — to a complex, fluid and much wider geopolitical rivalry is a category error. The risks of Russian nuclear escalation may rise, but there is no special category of actions the West could take that would automatically set it off. Russia has no red lines: It only has, at each moment, a range of options and perceptions of their relative risks and benefits. Through its diplomacy the West should aim to shape these perceptions so that Russia can choose the option that it prefers.

Mr. Dugin, like Mr. Putin, has accused Western countries of damaging the Nord Stream gas pipelines, which ruptured after underwater explosions last month in what both European and Russian leaders have called an act of sabotage.

He said that the West accuses them of blowing up the gas line. “We must understand the geopolitical confrontation, the war, our war with the West on the scale and extent on which it is unfolding. In other words, we must join this battle with a mortal enemy who does not hesitate to use any means, including exploding gas pipelines.”

The nonstop messaging campaign may be working, at least for now. Alexander Baunov is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who is from Russia.

“There is anger; there is fear; there is an idea to hide and flee, but it is not necessarily against Putin,” he said in a phone interview. The anger is towards the West or Ukrainians, even among those that are avoiding it.

The army is degraded in quality and capability. The composition of Russia’s military force in Ukraine — as much of its prewar active duty personnel has been wounded or killed and its best equipment destroyed or captured — has radically altered over the course of the war. The Russian military leadership is unlikely to know with confidence how this undisciplined composite force will react when confronted with cold, exhausting combat conditions or rumors of Ukrainian assaults. According to recent experience these troops could abandon their positions in panic as they did in the Kharkiv region in September.

Sept. 28: There are officials in occupied parts of the country that want the regions to join the Russian Federation. Putin’s approval rating fell 6 points to 77% in a poll by the Levada Center. The U.S. Defense Department said there would be more assistance for Ukraine.

In support of Ukraine joining NATO, the leaders of nine European nations made a statement. And Pope Francis made a strong plea for Putin to end the war.

You can find past recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more of NPR’s coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR’s State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.

The tragedy of Zaporizhzua, a village killed in the 1991 border conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

On the mountain-flanked steppes of southwestern Kyrgyzstan, the result in just one remote village has been devastating: homes reduced to rubble, a burned-out school and a gut-wrenching stench emanating from the rotting carcasses of 24,000 dead chickens.

All fell victim last month to the worst violence to hit the area since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union — a brief but bloody border conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, both members of a Russia-led military alliance dedicated to preserving peace but which did nothing to halt the mayhem.

Bociurkiw is a global affairs analyst. He was a spokesman for the Organization for Security and cooperation in Europe, then a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He contributes to CNN Opinion. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

A series of explosions, including along a key bridge connecting Russia to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, have put into question Russia’s ability to defend its own strategic infrastructure.

There were strikes when people were heading to work and kids were going to school. 10 minutes before it was struck, my friend in Kyiv texted me that she had just exited the bridge.

The area surrounding my office in Odesa was silent in between air raid sirens after reports of missiles and drones being shot down. (Normally at this time of the day, nearby restaurants would be heaving with customers, and chatter of plans for upcoming weddings and parties).

Zaporizhzua, a southeastern city close to the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, was struck by multiple attacks on apartment buildings while people slept on Monday. Many people were injured and at least 17 were killed.

The cause of this action was, in fact, Putin’s carpet bombing of Ukrainian infrastructure. This is all part of Putin’s misguided, and likely futile, effort to hammer the nation into submission – a hail of rockets designed to knock out electricity, water, and other critical civilian infrastructure as winter looms.

During the early days of the war in the capital, some media outlets moved their operations to underground bomb shelters. In one metro station serving as a shelter, large numbers of people took cover on platforms as a small group sang patriotic Ukrainian songs.

Indeed, millions of people in cities across Ukraine will be spending most of the day in bomb shelters, at the urging of officials, while businesses have been asked to shift work online as much as possible.

Just as many regions of Ukraine were starting to roar back to life, and with countless asylum seekers returning home, the attacks risk causing another blow to business confidence.

These attacks began at the outset of the war and have only increased in scope and virulence since Ukrainian forces last month attacked a bridge – one particularly close to Putin’s heart – between mainland Russia and Crimea, which the Russians annexed in 2014.

dictators tend to hardwiring newly claimed territory with expensive infrastructure projects. In 2018, Putin personally opened the Kerch bridge – Europe’s longest – by driving a truck across it. The world’s longest sea crossing bridge was built after the British and Portuguese territories were reclaimed from Beijing. The road bridge opened after two years of delays.

The impact of Putin’s attack on Ukraine’s defence strategy: What will we learn from urgent phone diplomacy? What will Washington and India need to do next?

The reaction among Ukrainians to the explosion was instantaneous: humorous memes lit up social media channels like a Christmas tree. They shared their joy via text message.

Sitting still was never an option for Putin, he was consumed by pride and self-interest. He responded by unleashing even more death and destruction with a force that would most likely be used by a former KGB officer.

Facing increasing ridicule at home, as well as on state-controlled television, has placed Putin on thin ice.

Faced with growing setbacks, the Kremlin appointed a new overall commander of Russia’s invasion. But there is little sign that Gen. Sergey Surovikin can lead his forces back onto the front foot before the end of the year, given the pace and cost of the Ukrainian counter-offensives.

It’s important that Washington and others use urgent phone diplomacy to urge China and India to resist using more deadly weapons, as these countries already have some leverage over Putin.

It is important that the West shows unity and resolve against a man who tends to exploit divisions and probes for weakness. Western governments should know that sanctions have little or no effect on Putin’s actions. They need to continue to arm Ukrainians and provide urgent training, even if it means sending military experts closer to the battlefield to speed up the integration of high technology weapons.

It is necessary for high tech defense systems to protect the country. With winter just around the corner, the need to protect heating systems is urgent.

The Belarusian strongman and the Belarus-Ukraine Joint Group of Trusts as a Counterattack in the Ukraine War

The time has also come for the West to further isolate Russia with trade and travel restrictions – but for that to have sufficient impact, Turkey and Gulf states, which receive many Russian tourists, need to be pressured to come on board.

Russia massed tens of thousands of troops in Belarus before its February invasion and used Belarusian territory as a staging ground for its initial, unsuccessful assault on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. Moscow continues to have hundreds of troops in Belarus who are involved in missiles and bombing raids. Their numbers are now expected to increase sharply.

Mr. Lukashenko told military and security officials in Minsk that this would not be just a few hundred troops.

In rambling remarks reported by the state news agency Belta, Mr. Lukashenko said that work had already started on the formation of what he called a “joint regional group of troops” to counter “possible aggression against our country” by NATO and Ukraine.

The Belarusian strongman, who has so far resisted pressure from Moscow to send in his own troops, accused Ukraine, which shares a long border with Belarus, of planning attacks from the south, without citing evidence.

The establishment of a joint force with Russia will reinforce the view in Ukraine that Belarus is clearly a “co-aggressor,” a label that Mr. Lukashenko has rejected but which took on new force on Monday after a barrage of Russian missile attacks on Kyiv and elsewhere, some of them launched from Belarusian territory, according to Ukrainian officials.

The state media in Minsk reported that Mr. Lukashenko told his team to prepare for the deployment of nuclear weapons in Poland.

Lukashenko is reliant on Moscow for his survival after almost 28 years in power, and the Russian government is trying to convince him to get involved in the Ukraine war.

As Ukrainian forces push back Russian units, the Russian response has expanded as they intensify their missile attacks.

The Russian Road to War with Ukraine: The Third, Fourth or Fifth War the UK Has Come and Its Coming, and How the Kremlin Has Helped

It is not for the first time the war is getting close to a new phase. Keir Giles is a senior consulting fellow at the Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia programme and said that this is the third, fourth or fifth war they have been observing.

It means that, as winter approaches, the stakes of the war have been raised once more. “There’s no doubt Russia would like to keep it up,” Giles said. But the Ukrainian successes of recent weeks have sent a direct message to the Kremlin, too. “They are able to do things that take us by surprise, so let’s get used to it,” Giles said.

Oleksii Hromov, a senior Ukrainian military official, said last week that his forces have regained some 120 settlements in the region in the last few months. Ukraine said Wednesday that it has liberated more settlements in Kherson.

Russia will help evacuate residents of occupied Kherson to other areas as the fight for the region continues. The head of the Moscow-backed administration in Kherson appealed to the Kremlin for help moving residents out of harm’s way in the latest sign that Russian forces were struggling in the face of Ukrainian advances.

The counter-offensives have shifted the war’s focus and dispelled the suggestion that Russia and the West could not defeat the rebels in eastern Ukraine.

“The Russians are playing for the whistle – (hoping to) avoid a collapse in their frontline before the winter sets in,” Samir Puri, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the author of “Russia’s Road to War with Ukraine,” told CNN.

“If they can get to Christmas with the frontline looking roughly as it is, that’s a huge success for the Russians given how botched this has been since February.”

Ukrainian troops are focused primarily on pushing Russian forces eastwards, having crossed the Oskil River in late September, with Moscow likely preparing to defend the cities of Starobilsk and Svatove in the Luhansk region, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Landing a major blow in Donbas would send another powerful signal, and Ukraine will be eager to improve on its gains before temperatures plummet on the battlefield, and the full impact of rising energy prices is felt around Europe.

“There are so many reasons why there is an incentive for Ukraine to get things done quickly,” Giles said. “The winter energy crisis in Europe, and energy infrastructure and power being destroyed in Ukraine itself, is always going to be a test of resilience for Ukraine and its Western backers.”

Ukraine’s national electricity company, Ukrenergo, says it has stabilized the power supply to Kyiv and central regions of Ukraine after much of the country’s electricity supply was disrupted by Russian missile attacks on Monday and Tuesday. The Ukrainian Prime Minister has urged people to reduce energy use during peak hours and warned of a lot of work to be done to fix damaged equipment.

Experts believe it remains unlikely that Russia’s aerial bombardment will form a recurrent pattern; while estimating the military reserves of either army is a murky endeavor, Western assessments suggest Moscow may not have the capacity to keep it up.

“We know – and Russian commanders on the ground know – that their supplies and munitions are running out,” Jeremy Fleming, a UK’s spy chief, said in a rare speech on Tuesday.

Russia may not have the options to disrupt Ukrainian counter-offensives because of its limited supply of precision weapons.

Justin Bronk, a military expert with the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), agreed with that assessment, telling CNN that, “Ukrainian interception success rates against Russian cruise missiles have risen significantly since the start of the invasion in February.”

The Russian don’t have the stock of precision munitions to sustain the kind of high-tempo missile assault into the future, this is why the barrage of missile strikes will be a feature reserved for shows of extreme outrage.

The impact of such an intervention in terms of pure manpower would be limited; Belarus has around 45,000 active duty troops, which would not significantly bolster Russia’s reserves. But it would threaten another assault on Ukraine’s northern flank below the Belarusian border.

Giles thinks the reopening of a northern front would be a challenge for Ukrainians. The new route would allow Russia to reenter the Kharkiv oblast that was regained from the Ukrainians, he said.

Volodymyr Zelensky was able to show his Western allies that their assistance can help win the war by flipping the story of the conflict over the past two months.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that Ukraine needed “more” systems to better halt missile attacks, ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

“These air defense systems are making a difference because many of the incoming missiles [this week] were actually shot down by the Ukrainian air defense systems provided by NATO Allies,” he said.

The IRIS-T that arrived this week from Germany is a badly needed modern system expected by the United States. , Bronk said.

Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine crisis: The challenge of mobilizing troops, military hardware and troops in the Kremlin, and the state of the crisis in the Middle East

That’s not to say mobilized forces will be of no use. If used as support roles, like drivers or refuelers, they could ease the burden on Russia’s exhausted professional army. Along the line of contact, along the cordon, along the man checkpoints and in the rear they could also fill out some of the extra units that were left over. They are not likely to become a fighting force. There are signs of discipline problems in Russian garrisons.

In that case, Mr. Putin could lash out more broadly against Ukraine. The attacks of the past week — particularly striking critical civilian infrastructure — could be expanded across Ukraine if missile supplies hold out, while Russia could directly target the Ukrainian leadership with strikes or special operations.

Some regional officials — including the mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin — appeared to be taking pains to offer reassurances. Mr. Sobyanin wrote on Telegram that there is no plan to limit the life of the city.

And despite the new power granted them by Mr. Putin, the regional governors of Kursk, Krasnodar and Voronezh said no entry or exit restrictions would be imposed.

But many Russians are sure to see a warning message in the martial law imposed in Ukraine, the first time that Moscow has declared martial law since World War II, analysts say.

“People are worried that they will soon close the borders, and the siloviki” — the strong men close to Mr. Putin in the Kremlin — “will do what they want,” Ms. Stanovaya said.

On Tuesday, the newly appointed commander of the Russian invasion, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, acknowledged that his army’s position in Kherson was “already quite difficult” and appeared to suggest that a tactical retreat might be necessary. General Surovikin said he was ready to make “difficult decisions” about military deployments, but did not say more about what those might be.

In a signal that the faltering invasion of Ukraine has eroded Moscow’s influence elsewhere, Russia has recently redeployed critical military hardware and troops from Syria, according to three senior officials based in the Middle East.

The Rise of Manifold Forces in the Age of Cold War: A Conversation with David A. Andelman at the New York Times and CBS News

David A. Andelman, a CNN contributor twice winner of the Deadline Club Award, is an author of a book called “A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen”. He formerly was a correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News in Europe and Asia. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

He wants to distract his nation from the obvious, which is that he is losing badly on the battlefield and fails to achieve even the scaled back objectives of his invasion.

In short, there is every incentive for Putin to prolong the conflict as long as possible to allow many of these forces in the West to kick in. A long, cold winter in Europe, persistent inflation and higher interest rates leading to a recession on both sides of the Atlantic could mean irresistible pressure on already skeptical leaders to dial back on financial and military support.

This ability to keep going depends on a host of variables – ranging from the availability of critical and affordable energy supplies for the coming winter, to the popular will across a broad range of nations with often conflicting priorities.

The European powers agreed on a plan in the early morning of Friday to control energy prices that have been going up after the embargoes on Russian imports and the Kremlin cutting natural gas supplies.

These include an emergency cap on the benchmark European gas trading hub – the Dutch Title Transfer Facility – and permission for EU gas companies to create a cartel to buy gas on the international market.

While French President Emmanuel Macron waxed euphoric leaving the summit, which he described as having “maintained European unity,” he conceded that there was only a “clear mandate” for the European Commission to start working on a gas cap mechanism.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is skeptical of price caps. Now energy ministers must work out details with a Germany concerned such caps would encourage higher consumption – a further burden on restricted supplies.

These divisions are all part of Putin’s fondest dream. The Kremlin views Europe as failing to agree on essentials and so Manifold forces can prove central to achieving success.

Some of these issues are already at odds with Germany and France. Though in an effort to reach some accommodation, Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have scheduled a conference call for Wednesday.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/25/opinions/putin-prolonge-war-ukraine-winter-andelman/index.html

Italy’s new prime minister has spoken out against Putin’s actions in the fight against the post-fascist ill-equipped West

And now a new government has taken power in Italy. Giorgia Meloni was sworn in Saturday as Italy’s first woman prime minister and has attempted to brush aside the post-fascist aura of her party. One of her far-right coalition partners meanwhile, has expressed deep appreciation for Putin.

In an audio tape obtained by La Presse, Berlusconi said he had returned Putin’s gesture with bottles of Lambrusco wine.

The other leading member of the ruling Italian coalition, Matteo Salvini, named Saturday as deputy prime minister, said during the campaign, “I would not want the sanctions [on Russia] to harm those who impose them more than those who are hit by them.”

Poland and Hungary, two countries with long-standing right-wing alliances that were united against liberal policies of the EU that seemed calculated to reduce their influence, have differing views about the situation in Ukraine. Poland was offended by the pro-Putin feelings of Hungary’s populist leader.

Kevin McCarthy, poised to become Speaker of the House if Republicans take control after next month’s elections, told an interviewer, “I think people are going to be sitting in a recession and they are not going to write a blank check.” They will not do it.

Meanwhile on Monday, the influential 30-member Congressional progressive caucus called on Biden to open talks with Russia on ending the conflict while its troops are still occupying vast stretches of the country and its missiles and drones are striking deep into the interior.

Hours later, caucus chair Mia Jacob, facing a firestorm of criticism, emailed reporters with a statement “clarifying” their remarks in support of Ukraine. Antony Blinken called Dmytro Kuleba to talk about renewing America’s support.

Indeed, while the US has proffered more than $60 billion in aid since Biden took office, when Congress authorized $40 billion for Ukraine last May, only Republicans voted against the latest aid package.

This support in terms of arms, materiel and now training for Ukrainian forces have been the underpinnings of their remarkable battlefield successes against a weakening, undersupplied and ill-prepared Russian military.

The west is putting pressure on Russia. Last Thursday, the State Department released a detailed report on the impact of sanctions and export controls strangling the Russian military-industrial complex.

Russian production of hypersonic missiles has all but ceased “due to the lack of necessary semi-conductors,” said the report. Plants producing anti-aircraft systems have shut down and aircraft are being cannibalized for spare parts. The Soviet era ended more than 30 years ago.

A day before this report, the US announced seizure of all property of a top Russian procurement agent Yury Orekhov and his agencies “responsible for procuring US-origin technologies for Russian end-users…including advanced semiconductors and microprocessors.”

The Department of Justice alleges that individuals and companies are trying to smuggle high-tech equipment into Russia in violation of sanctions.

War against Ukraine: The Czech Republic, the U.S., NATO and the exit of Putin’s puppet leader in the Donbass

Hardliners like Russian puppet leader in the Donbass, who voiced his desire to kill Ukrainians, still exist. If you don’t want to be convinced, we’ll kill you. We will either kill a million, five million, or all of you.

Now Poland is facing the repercussions from these attacks – and it’s not the only bordering country. The lack of attention to the Polish incident is due in part to the fact that Russian rockets knocked out power in neighboringMoldova, a NATO member.

Whatever the exact circumstances of the missile, one thing is clear. The Secretary General of NATO believes that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for its war against Ukraine.

His forces have planted mines in vast stretches of territory in Kherson from which they’ve recently withdrawn – much as the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia stretching back to the 1970s. Indeed, Cambodian de-mining experts have even been called in to assist with the herculean task facing Ukraine in 2022. At the same time, Russian armies have also left behind evidence of unspeakable atrocities and torture, also reminiscent of the Khmer Rouge.

A growing number of Russian soldiers have rebelled against what was asked of them, and refused to fight. Amid plummeting morale, the UK’s Defense Ministry believes Russian troops may be prepared to shoot retreating or deserting soldiers.

Indeed a hotline and Telegram channel, launched as a Ukrainian military intelligence project called “I want to live,” designed to assist Russian soldiers eager to defect, has taken off, reportedly booking some 3,500 calls in its first two months of activity.

Putin is becoming more isolated on the world stage. He was the only leader who didn’t attend the session of the G20, called the “G19.” Though Putin once lusted after a return to the G7 (known as the G8 before he was ousted after his seizure of Crimea), inclusion now seems but a distant dream. Russian officials banned 100 Canadians, including Jim Carrey, from entering the country, and they compared it to North Korea.

Above all, many of the best and brightest in virtually every field have now fled Russia. This includes writers, artists and journalists as well as some of the most creative technologists, scientists and engineers.

Mikhail Zygar, one of the top Russian journalists, who has been living in Berlin after fleeing in March, told me last week that like many of his countrymen, he may never be able to come back to his homeland.

The fate of Europe and the outlook for the future of nuclear power and energy security in the light of the G20 summit in Paris and the U.K

Rumbling in the background is the West’s attempt to diversify away from Russian oil and natural gas in an effort to deprive the country of material resources to pursue this war. “We have understood and learnt our lesson that it was an unhealthy and unsustainable dependency, and we want reliable and forward-looking connections,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission told the G20 on Tuesday.

Moreover, Putin’s dream that this conflict, along with the enormous burden it has proven to be on Western countries, would only drive further wedges into the Western alliance are proving unfulfilled. On Monday, word began circulating in aerospace circles that the long-stalled joint French-German project for a next-generation jet fighter at the heart of the Future Combat Air System – Europe’s largest weapons program – was beginning to move forward.

Above all, Putin still does not appear to have learned that revenge is not an appropriate way to act on or off the battlefield and in the final analysis is most likely to isolate and weaken Russia, perhaps irreversibly.

Many are looking to see if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will follow through on his threat of banning the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine after stepped up raids on churches accused of links with Moscow.

The European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen and the Prime Minister of Norway are going to Paris to dine with the French President.

Also in France, on Tuesday, the country is set to co-host a conference with Ukraine in support of Ukrainians through the winter, with a video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Birth of a Nation: The Russian Invasion of Bakhmut and Crimea after the First World War II: The Case of BRITTNEY GURER

After 10 months of negotiations, Russian authorities freed basketball player BRITTNEY GURER. Her release came in exchange for the U.S. handing over convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. She is with her husband in the U.S. Bout is back in Russia and is reported to have joined an ultranationalist party.

The measures targeting Russian oil revenue took effect. A price cap and embargo on most Russian oil imports are included in the report.

The church is being used as a Russian military base and has been hit by Ukrainian missiles. The city in southeastern Ukrainian’s Zaporizhzhia region was the site of long-range shelling by the Ukrainian forces.

Russian forces turned the city of Bakhmut into burned ruins, Zelenskyy said. Russia is trying to advance on the city in the eastern Donbas region.

There was a phone call between President Zelenskyy and President Biden on December 11th, in which they spoke about the Russian invasion.

At the time, Putin said his military was embarking on a “special military operation” and that it would last a few weeks.

Russia’s life was fundamentally upended by the war, rupturing a post-Soviet period of democratic reforms and financial integration with the West.

War against Ukraine has left Russia isolated and struggling with more tumultaneous-aheavy-ahead: “war-against-ukraine-has-left-russia-isol

Since February, the government passed laws that outlaw criticism of the military or leadership. Nearly 20,000 people have been detained for demonstrating against the war — 45% of them women — according to a leading independent monitoring group.

Lengthy prison sentences have been meted out to high profile opposition voices on charges of “discrediting” the Russian army by questioning its conduct or strategy.

Every week organizations and individuals are added to a growing list of “non-desirable organizations” intended to damage their reputation in the Russian public.

The most important human rights group in Russia was forced to stop its activities because of alleged violations of foreign agents law.

The state has also vastly expanded Russia’s already restrictive anti-LGBT laws, arguing the war in Ukraine reflects a wider attack on “traditional values.”

For now, repressions remain targeted. Some of the new laws are not enforced. But few doubt the measures are intended to crush wider dissent — should the moment arise.

The new “fake news” laws forced leading independent media outlets to shut down or relocate overseas, as well as a number of vibrant, online investigative startups.

Restrictions extend to internet users as well. American social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook were banned in March. Roskomnadzor, the Kremlin’s internet regulator, has blocked more than 100,000 websites since the start of the conflict.

Technical workarounds such as VPNs and Telegram still offer access to Russians seeking independent sources of information. Old Russians like the state media propaganda, with angry talk shows spreading conspiracies.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2022/12/31/1145981036/war-against-ukraine-has-left-russia-isolated-and-struggling-with-more-tumult-ahe

The Russian Exodus from the First Russian Invasion of the Soviet Union: How Far Has Russia Come Since Putin’s First Battle?

Thousands of perceived government opponents — many of them political activists, civil society workers and journalists — left in the war’s early days amid concerns of persecution.

Yet Putin’s order to mobilize 300,000 additional troops in September prompted the largest outflow: Hundreds of thousands of Russian men fled to border states including Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Georgia in an attempt to avoid the draft.

Meanwhile, some countries that have absorbed the Russian exodus predict their economies will grow, even as the swelling presence of Russians remains a sensitive issue to former Soviet republics in particular.

In the initial days of the invasion, Russia’s ruble currency cratered and its banking and trading markets looked shaky. Hundreds of global brands, such as McDonald’s and ExxonMobil, reduced, suspended or closed their operations in Russia.

President Putin thinks Europe will blink first in relation to sanctions and pull back on its support for Ukraine because Europeans are angry about rising energy costs. He announced a ban on oil exports to countries that adhere to the price cap, which is likely to make the pain worse in Europe.

The economic damage has already put an end to Putin’s two-decades strong reputation for providing “stability” — once a key basis for his support among Russians who remember the chaotic years that followed the collapse of the USSR.

When it comes to Russia’s military campaign, there’s no outward change in the government’s tone. Russia’s Defense Ministry has daily briefings about everything on the ground. Putin, too, repeatedly assures that everything is “going according to plan.”

Yet the sheer length of the war — with no immediate Russian victory in sight — suggests Russia vastly underestimated Ukrainians’ willingness to resist.

The true number of Russian losses – officially at just under 6,000 men – remains a highly taboo subject at home. Western estimates place those figures much higher.

Indeed, Russia’s invasion has — thus far — backfired in its primary aims: NATO looks set to expand towards Russia’s borders, with the addition of long-neutral states Finland and Sweden.

Longtime allies in CENTRAL ASIA have criticizedRUSSIA’s actions out of concern for their own sovereignty, an example of how farRUSSIA has come in the last 50 years. India and China have eagerly purchased discounted Russian oil, but have stopped short of full-throated support for Russia’s military campaign.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2022/12/31/1145981036/war-against-ukraine-has-left-russia-isolated-and-struggling-with-more-tumult-ahe

The Russian War in Ukraine: A Test of the U.S. Position in the Light of Danilov’s “Red Lines”

The state of the nation address was supposed to happen in April, but was repeatedly delayed and will not happen until next year. Putin’s annual “direct line” — a media event in which Putin fields questions from ordinary Russians — was canceled outright.

An annual December “big press conference” – a semi-staged affair that allows the Russian leader to handle fawning questions from mostly pro-Kremlin media – was similarly tabled until 2023.

The Kremlin has given no reason for the delays. Many suspect it might be that, after 10 months of war and no sign of victory in sight, the Russian leader has finally run out of good news to share.

America has done this before. The Soviet Union accepted an outcome that favored the West during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was the most dangerous nuclear confrontation so far. America might not have accepted an inferior compromise, which would have weakened its security and credibility, were it not for “red lines” thinking.

America should focus on three things. First, it should no longer declare that there are measures it will refrain from taking, and weapons systems it will not provide, to support Ukraine. You have to make an unforced concession to signal restraint. It encourages Russia to look for evidence that leads to further limits on U.S. actions.

Following Danilov’s comments, a Ukrainian military spokesperson said Wednesday that there a signs Russia is preparing for a renewed offensive in southern Ukraine.

In an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, the Secretary of theUkrainian National Security and Defense Council said these would be defining months in the war.

The Ukrainian Defense Intelligence said that February and March will be very active as the country is on the edge of a phase of hostilities.

Military representatives from the two countries will plan their use of troops based on their previous experience of armed conflicts, according to the ministry.

Russia’s War on Ukraine: How Do We Get Here? Ana Bogdanovich, Head of State of the Union for the MH17 Investigation

The Ukrainian President traveled to Europe, meeting leaders in several countries, and making a call for fighter jets to be sent to his country.

The war in Ukraine received very little attention in the State of the Union speech by President Biden, as Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova attended for the second consecutive year.

There’s “strong indication” Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the go-ahead to supply anti-aircraft weapons to separatists in Ukraine, according to the international team investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014.

An analyst, consultant, and journalist, who is focused on Eastern and Central European affairs, is Cristian Gherasim. Follow him on the social networking website, #Crstn. The views expressed in this commentary are of his own. CNN has more opinion.

In this situation, Ana said thatMoldova has never experienced it before. “A never-ending string of hardships hit this country in a manner no one could predict: a war next door, the energy shortage and now rockets falling near our homes.”

The trips she makes from the Romanian capital of Bucharest, where Ana has been living for the past decade, to Moldova, have only gotten more frequent since power blackouts and energy shortages hit the small country of 2.6 million people.

As Russia continues its war on Ukraine, Ana is concerned for her parents, as well as worried about where the next missile might come from.

Last month, President Maia Sandu said that border police had found missile debris near the village of Larga. It was not the first such incident – Moldovan police also found missile debris in December – and it left many to wonder what will happen if the next time luck runs out and a stray rocket hits closer to home.

For this scenario not to happen, Moldova needs outside help and constant military support to keep it from being perceived by Russia as an easy target. The country, one of the poorest in Europe, has almost entirely outdated military equipment according to Moldova’s defense minister.

Seizing Odesa could have allowed Russia’s army to connect with that territory where some 1,500 Russian troops are stationed—turning the tiny sliver of land into a new Donbas, this time much closer to the doorstep of NATO and the EU.

It goes without saying that for one of the poorest countries in Europe, sheltering so many refugees likely won’t be sustainable for a long period of time without assistance. Russia hopes that Moldova will crack under the pressure of refugees, and that it will cause further upheaval in Eastern Europe.

During his visit to Chisinau in the spring, the UN Secretary General said thatMoldova is by far the country that has received the most refugees, as proportion of its own population. He mentioned that the country finds itself on the “front line of preservation, peace and stability in the world.” What does that mean?

Secondly, since Ukrainian refugees have been largely allowed to move freely in Europe, those who did choose to stay in Moldova are usually those having a harder time integrating anywhere else. Ukraine andMoldova share a lot of similarities. If Moldova refused or was unable to take in so many refugees, the rest of Europe would have to integrate them.

Moldova’s woes have to do with internal factors as well. The current pro-EU government is faced with long term issues such as the country’s corruption and oligarchic system. The Council of Europe has pointed out the judicial deficiencies in Moldova, as well as the fact that the judiciary system is under scrutiny after a dispute over the top prosecutor job.

It’s not the only country that is losing people. The number of people inMoldova has decreased by more than 12% since 1991, as the population decline in other parts of Europe has.

All pales compared to Moldova’s current energy problem. The country is dependent on both Russia and Ukraine for energy, which presents it with the most difficult situation since it declared independence from the Soviet Union.

Sandu, plain spoken and charismatic, is leading a charm offensive, and met with Western leaders to bring attention to Moldova’s plight. She knows that there would be nothing worse for Moldova than to be forgotten and ignored on the world stage.

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