The US should define Russia’s red lines
Ukraine’s Nuclear Explosions during the Nov. 24 Crisis: Breaking Russia’s Strategy and Preparing for a World Economic Revolution
Editor’s Note: Michael Bociurkiw (@WorldAffairsPro) is a global affairs analyst. He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former spokesperson for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He contributes to CNN Opinion. His own opinions are expressed in this commentary. 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.
As Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine approaches the 10-month mark — on Nov. 24 — here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week.
The strikes occurred as people headed to work and while kids were being dropped off at schools. A friend of mine from Kyiv told me that the bridge she was on had just been struck.
As of midday local time, the area around my office in Odesa remained eerily quiet in between air raid sirens, with reports that three missiles and five kamikaze drones were 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).
Less than 24 hours earlier Zaporizhzhia was hit by numerous strikes on apartment buildings, which mostly took place while people slept. At least 17 people were killed and several dozens injured.
“Today the enemy carried out another massive attack on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine,” Halushchenko said in a post on Facebook. There is damage to generation facilities and power grids.
Some Kyiv media outlets temporarily moved their operations to underground bomb shelters in scenes reminiscent of the early days of the war. In a metro station serving as a shelter, large numbers of people took cover from a small group of people singing patriotic songs on the platforms.
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.
For Putin, the symbolic significance of the bridge connecting mainland Russia andCrimea cannot be overstated. That the attack took place a day after his 70th birthday (the timing prompted creative social media denizens to create a split-screen video of Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Happy Birthday, Mr President”) can be taken as an added blow to an aging autocrat whose ability to withstand shame and humiliation is probably nil.
dictators like to hardwire newly claimed territory with expensive, record breaking infrastructure projects. Putin opened the bridge by driving a truck across it. That same year, one of the first things Chinese President Xi Jinping did after Beijing reclaimed Macau and Hong Kong was to connect the former Portuguese and British territories with the world’s longest sea crossing bridge. The $20 billion, 34-mile road bridge opened after about two years of delays.
When Vladimir Putin became a KGB operative, the explosion left a little more than a foot in the cold water: Implications for Russia and the West
The hilarious meme about the explosion lit up social media channels like a Christmas tree. Many shared their sense of jubilation via text messages.
For Putin, consumed by pride and self-interest, sitting still was never an option. He responded in the only way he knows how, by unleashing more death and destruction, with the force that probably comes natural to a former KGB operative.
It was also an act of desperation, and Putin had been placed on thin ice because of the increased criticism at home.
Russia made portentous but vague threats before the invasion of Ukraine which made the Western support for the country a huge roadblock.
What is crucially important now is for Washington and other allies to use urgent telephone diplomacy to urge China and India – which presumably still have some leverage over Putin – to resist the urge to use even more deadly weapons.
While Russia is more invested in subordinating Ukraine than it was in deploying missiles to Cuba, the logic is the same. In 1962, America persuaded the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, that removing nuclear weapons from Cuba was, however unpalatable, a better choice than deploying them. The West should try to convince Mr. Putin that withdrawing his forces from the country is less risky than fighting. He will be likely to do so if he understands that a long war threatens his regime — whose preservation seems to be the only thing he values more highly than a subordinated Ukraine — by fatally weakening domestic cohesion or by escalating out of control.
Furthermore, high tech defense systems are needed to protect Kyiv and crucial energy infrastructure around the country. With winter just around the corner, the need to protect heating systems is urgent.
Russian Air Forces and Counterattacks in Ukraine: The Status and Prospects for US and Russian-Embedded Forces in the Cold War
Turkey and gulf states which receive many Russian tourists need to be pressured into joining the West in further isolating Russia with travel and trade restrictions.
Russia’s air campaign seemed to be straight from the norm when it invaded last February. Russia sent waves of pilots in advanced fighter jets to bomb Ukraine. The near universal assumption was Russia’s powerful air force would quickly overwhelm Ukraine’s much smaller force and establish air superiority.
The Russians have a propensity to mix their missiles and this can lead to much worse havoc for the civilians in Ukraine than if they stick with their tactic of using swarms of missiles.
Experts think that there is no likelihood of a recurrent pattern of aerial bombardment by Russia, while estimating either army’s military reserves is not easy. Western assessment suggests that Moscow may not have the capacity to keep up.
Some of that inventory was dispatched this week. But Russia has recently resorted to using much older and less precise KH-22 missiles (originally made as an anti-ship weapon), of which it still has large inventories, according to Western officials. They are designed to take out aircraft carriers. A KH-22 was responsible for the dozens of casualties at a shopping mall in Kremenchuk in June.
We can see the impact of western-supplied fire-and-forget shoulder-launched anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. We have seen the impact of select use of medium-range anti-ship missiles. We have seen some use of offensive cyber capabilities by the Russians.
He told CNN’s Richard Quest that this was the “first time from the beginning of the war” that Russia has “dramatically targeted” energy infrastructure.
Work was continuing on improving Ukrainian air defenses, and the Defense Department was trying to get Soviet-era capabilities so that countries were ready and could donate them and help move those capabilities.
According to preliminary data, 54 of 69 cruise missiles fired at Ukranian were shot down by the defense forces. Klitschko said 16 missiles were destroyed by Ukraine’s air defenses over Kyiv.
It’s more difficult to calculate how much Shahed drones will be eliminated because so many are being used. Zelensky said that he got a message about the use of Iranian Shaheds every 10 minutes. But he also said the bulk of them were being shot down.
Ukraine’s allies understand the need. The US will be looking for air defense options to help the Ukrainians after Russia attacked the population, General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Ukraine’s wish-list – circulated at Wednesday’s meeting – included missiles for their existing systems and a “transition to Western-origin layered air defense system” as well as “early warning capabilities.”
Speaking after the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, he said such a system would not “control all the airspace over Ukraine, but they are designed to control priority targets that Ukraine needs to protect. What you’re looking at really is short-range low-altitude systems and then medium-range medium altitude and then long-range and high altitude systems, and it’s a mix of all of these.”
Western systems are beginning to trickle in. The first of two units of the US National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System is expected soon, as a new era of air defense starts, said the Ukrainian Defense Minister on Tuesday.
But these are hardly off-the-shelf-items. The IRIS-T had to be manufactured for Ukraine. Western governments don’t have much inventories of such systems. Ukraine is a large country under missile attack from three directions.
Resolving the Ukraine crisis: a new phase in the war and the consequences for the Russian economy and the security of the region, said a senior military commander
Ukraine’s senior military commander, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, tweeted Tuesday his thanks to Poland as “brothers in arms” for training an air defense battalion that had destroyed nine of 11 Shaheeds.
He said that Poland had provided Ukraine with equipment to destroy drones. Last month there were reports that the Polish government had bought advanced Israeli equipment (Israel has a policy of not selling “advanced defensive technology” to Kyiv) and was then transferring it to Ukraine.
The war is in a new phase not for the first time. “This is now the third, fourth, possibly fifth different war that we’ve been observing,” said Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia Programme.
“We are on the edge of a very active phase of hostilities, February and March will be very active,” Andriy Yusov, representative of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence, said on national television.
“What seemed a distant prospect for anything that could be convincingly described as a Ukraine victory is now very much more plausible,” Giles said. Russia’s response is likely to escalate further.
The attacks on Monday and more strikes throughout the week showed that Russian President Putin was angry after a series of setbacks in the war.
Russian forces in Ukraine’s counter-offensive: “Goodbye, sorry, but I will try to take care of business”
Ukrainian troops flew the country’s flag over a building in the southern Kherson region last month. The counter-offensive by the Ukrainians has liberated hundreds of settlements.
Russia said Thursday its forces would help evacuate residents of occupied Kherson to other areas, as Ukraine’s offensive continued to make gains in the region. The announcement came shortly after 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 indication that Russian forces were struggling in the face of Ukrainian advances.
The counter-offensives have shifted the war’s focus and corrected the perception thatUkraine lacked the ability to seize ground, which was built up during the summer.
The Russians are playing for the whistle and hope to avoid a collapse in their frontline before winter sets in, according to the senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
If they can get to Christmas with the frontline looking like it is, that will be a huge success for the Russians.
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).
There is a high likelihood of a major blow to the Ukrainian army in Donbas, which will send a powerful signal and increase the pressure on them to improve before the cold weather sets in.
There are many reasons why there is an incentive for theUkrainian government to do things quickly. The resilience of the Ukrainian people and the Western countries is always going to be tested by the winter energy crisis in Europe.
NATO leaders vowed to stand behind Ukraine no matter how long the war takes, but several European countries that relied heavily on Russian energy are facing a cost-of-living crisis that could endanger public support.
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. But Ukrainian Prime Minister has warned that “there is a lot of work to do” to fix damaged equipment, and asked Ukrainians to reduce their energy usage during peak hours.
Jeremy Fleming, the UK spy chief, said in a speech on Tuesday that Russian commanders on the ground know that their supplies are running out.
“Russia’s use of its limited supply of precision weapons in this role may deprive Putin of options to disrupt ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensives,” the ISW assessed.
There may be help for Putin on the way. There were fears that their military cooperation would increase with the announcement by Alexander Lukashenko that a joint regional group of troops would be deployed. Some analysts say the threat of Ukrainian involvement in recent days may be a hint at some level of involvement.
Giles said that reopening of the northern front was a new challenge for Ukranian. It would provide Russia a new route into the Kharkiv oblast (region), which has been recaptured by Ukraine, should Putin prioritize an effort to reclaim that territory, he said.
Zelensky hopes to drive those gains home with more supplies in the short-term. The leader has sought to highlight Ukraine’s success in intercepting Russian missiles, saying more than half of the missiles and drones launched at Ukraine in a second wave of strikes on Tuesday were brought down.
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.
The Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI) military expert told CNN that the Ukrainian intercept success rates against Russian cruise missiles had risen since the beginning of the invasion in February.
It’s hard to imagine any other country being permitted by the world to wage the kind of campaign Russia has in Ukraine (and in Syria before it); still less with an overt agenda of exterminating the Ukrainian people.
Petraeus: It could if all of Russia was successful in getting Putin’s attention. However, to date, the mobilizations have been partial, as Putin seems to fear how the country might respond to total mobilization. In fact, reportedly, more Russian men left the country than reported to the mobilization stations in response to the latest partial call-up of reserves.
The Ukrainians have warned for a while about the renewed Russian offensive, and have asked for powerful weaponry from Western allies to counter the threat.
American officials say there is little chance of a collapse in Russian forces that would allow the Ukrainians to take another large swath of territory similar to what happened last month. The city of Kherson is a prize in the war, and if Russian units were to break in the face of Ukrainian pressure, it could cause the city to fall.
The scale of Russian losses is not known. The institute said the advances were “impaling well dug-in defensive positions of Ukraine’s battle-hardened troops.” The Ukrainian military is thought to have overstated their Russian casualties estimates, but the relative increase in reported numbers suggest that the toll is rising. Ukrainian military said more than 800 Russian soldiers were wounded or killed over the course of 24 hours.
Russian forces are staging up to 80 assaults per day according to General Zaluzhnyi in the statement.
General Zaluzhnyi wrote about the situation at the front. He said that he told his U.S colleague that the Ukrainians were fighting back and that they had the courage to do so.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, the increase in troops in the east did not result in new ground for Russia.
“Russian forces would likely have had more success in such offensive operations if they had waited until enough mobilized personnel had arrived to amass a force large enough to overcome Ukrainian defenses,” the institute said in a statement on Thursday.
In the south, where Ukrainian troops are advancing toward the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, the Ukrainian military said Friday morning that its artillery battalions had fired more than 160 times at Russian positions over the past 24 hours, but it also reported Russian return fire into Ukrainian positions.
With Russian and Ukrainian forces apparently preparing for battle in Kherson, and conflicting signals over what may be coming, the remaining residents of the city have been stocking up on food and fuel to survive combat.
Cold War Instability in the Cold War and the Nuclear Arms of the United States: The Case Against a Russian Attack Against the State of Emergency
The US would provide a missile system to Ukraine during Zelensky’s visit to the White House, announced Biden at the time. It was the first system pledged to a country.
“Earlier, many experts, including those overseas, questioned the rationality of such a step which would lead to an escalation of the conflict and increase the risk of directly dragging the US army into combat,” Zakharova said at a briefing in Moscow.
The Patriot system is expensive and complicated and requires intensive training for the multiple people it takes to operate it, but could help the country guard against Russian attacks that have left millions without power.
The Pentagon press secretary was asked if the Russian warnings were “provocative”. Those comments would not have an effect on US aid to Ukranian.
“It’s ironic that officials from a country that brutally attacked its neighbor in an Illegal and Unprovoked Invasion would choose to use provocative words to describe their defensive systems that are meant to save lives and protect civilians,” she said.
He said that despite Russia’s threats, there has only been one detected change in Russia’s nuclear posture.
Russia’s defense ministry shared video of the installation of a “Yars”intercontinental missile in the Kaluga region for the commander of the Kozelsky missile formation.
The leaders of the US and other western nations must convey to Putin clearly and repeatedly that a nuclear attack on Russia would be catastrophic, according to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Appearing this week on Russian state TV, Commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Russian militia in the Donetsk region suggested Russia could not defeat the NATO alliance in a conventional war.
How does the U.S. Arms Behaving in the War on Crimea and In the trenches? A Case Study of a US Army Combating Russia
A larger crew is required to properly operate the missile batteries compared to smaller air defense systems. The training for the missiles can take many months and the United States will now be forced to carry it out under attack from Russia.
In an interview with The Economist published Thursday, Zelensky also rejected the idea recently suggested by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Ukraine seek to reclaim only land seized by Russia since February 2022 and not areas like Donbas and Crimea, which have been under Russian control since 2014.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the French news outlet France 24 this week, before the Patriot missile development, that the alliance still has two main objectives: provide aid to Ukraine and also make sure that NATO forces don’t become directly involved and escalate the war.
Old ammo. CNN’s Ellie Kaufman and Liebermann reported earlier this week on a US military official who says Russian forces have had to resort to 40-year-old artillery ammunition as their supplies of new ammo are “rapidly dwindling.”
The official spoke to reporters and said that when you load the bullets they cross your fingers that it will fire or explode.
Military aid has an effect. CNN reported last month that the US is running short on some of the weaponry it provides to Ukraine. Look for that story to be part of the US aid debate because Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives next month.
In the trenches. CNN’s Will Ripley filed a video report from trenches and fortifications being built along Ukraine’s border with Belarus, where there is growing concern about Russia once again assembling troops. The sewing machine repairman is a tank driver.
State of Ukraine: Highlights from the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s First Premiership Addressed at the Commons Liaison Committee
An official announcement is expected on a European Union cap on natural gas prices, the latest measure to tackle an energy crisis largely spurred by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes his first appearance as prime minister before the Commons Liaison Committee, where the Ukraine war and other global issues are discussed. Sunak met with members of the U.K.-led military force in Latvia on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will hold virtual talks sometime this month, according to Russian news reports.
And Ukrainians and Russians are heading into their first Christmas or Hanukkah festivities since the Kremlin launched its full-on invasion of Ukraine in late February.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Dec. 13 it made an agreement with Ukraine’s government to send nuclear safety and security experts to each of the country’s nuclear power plants.
An American was released from Russian-controlled territory in a prisoner exchange. Suedi Murekezi told ABC News he spent weeks in a basement, where he was tortured, and months in a prison in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.
The EU approved funding for Ukraine and harsher penalties against Russia. The aid package followed pledges earlier in the week from dozens of countries and global institutions to support more than $1 billion in winter relief funds for Ukraine, helping the country with power, heat, food and medical supplies.
Past recaps can be found 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.
Keir Giles is a research analyst with the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House in the UK. He is the author of a book. And what it means for you. The views expressed in this commentary are of his own. Read CNN’s opinion.
Russia and its supporters will make this a massive and dangerous escalation. That’s nonsense, but it’s highly effective nonsense.
Russia has a freedom to behave as it sees fit, without fear of being interfered with by the global community, because of its UN Security Council veto and fear of nuclear propaganda.
The support for the Ukrainian cause outside Europe and the United States is less than in Europe and the United States. To strengthen that support, as the second year of this terrible and unnecessary conflict begins, it is useful to examine why it is in the interest of the United States and other democracies to expend so much wealth, and to take so great a risk in confronting a nuclear power.
Meanwhile, Russia will continue to look for sources of replacement weapons as it scrapes the barrel for repurposed or adapted missiles to launch at Ukraine. And Iran may not be the only country willing to supply Russia in the future.
That shows how aggressive powers can be around the world. Nuclear weapons give you the power to wage genocidal wars against your neighbors because other nations won’t intervene.
If that’s not the message the US and the West want other aggressor states around the world to receive, then supply of Patriot should be followed by far more direct and assertive means of dissuading Moscow.
The State of the State and the Crisis in Kyiv, Ukraine, after the First Day of the US-Russian War on Nuclear Power Systems
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Friday that it is “wise to be prepared for a long war” in Ukraine, adding that Kyiv’s allies will remain together for the duration.
Russia’s foreign ministry condemned what it called the “monstrous crimes” of the “regime in Kyiv,” after US President Joe Biden promised more military support to Ukraine during Zelensky’s summit at the White House on Wednesday.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that no matter how much military support the West provides to the Ukrainian government, “they will achieve nothing.”
“As the leadership of our country has stated, the tasks set within the framework of the special military operation will be fulfilled, taking into account the situation on the ground and the actual realities,” Zakharova added, referring to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Zelensky gave a historic speech from the US Capitol expressing gratitude for American aid in fighting Russian aggression since the war began.
Peskov added that “there were no real calls for peace.” But during his address to the US Congress on Wednesday, Zelensky did stress that “we need peace,” reiterating the 10-point plan devised by Ukraine.
Peskov told journalists, however, that Wednesday’s meeting showed the US is waging a proxy war of “indirect fighting” against Russia down “to the last Ukrainian.”
Authorities have been cautioning for days that Russia was preparing to launch an all-out assault on the power grid to close out 2022, plummeting the country into darkness as Ukrainians attempt to ring in the New Year and celebrate the Christmas holidays, which for the country’s Orthodox Christians falls on January 7.
Elsewhere in the capital, Halyna Hladka stocked up on water as soon as the sirens sounded and quickly made breakfast for her family so they would have something to eat. After nearly two hours, they heard the sounds of explosions. It seemed that they were close to our area but it turned out to be air defense. “Not a single attack will cancel the fact that we will celebrate the new year with the family.”
After the sirens gave the all clear, life in the capital went back to normal, Hryn said: “In the elevator I met my neighbors with their child who were in hurry to get to the cinema for the new Avatar movie on time.” Parents took their children to school and people went to work, while others continued with holiday plans in defiance.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Defense Minister Dmytro Kuleba: “No neutrality” will not negotiate with Putin
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters Thursday that Moscow won’t negotiate with the Ukrainian president on the basis of a peace plan which calls for Russia to withdraw from all of Ukrainian territory.
The conflict will end in a negotiated resolution when Putin acknowledges the war is unsustainable on the battlefield and at home, says retired US General David Petraeus in an opinion article.
The Minister said that Odesa, Kyiv and Lviv were most affected by the crisis because the electricity is turned off in order to reduce the risk of damage to the grid.
The two people that were pulled from the house on Thursday were a 14-year-old girl and her father. In attacks on Kyiv homes, an industrial facility, and a playground were damaged.
Two people have been killed in the northeastern region of Ukraine. The head of the region’s military administration said critical infrastructure was the target of four rockets that hit the city.
It was characterized as “senseless barbarism.” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said those were the only words that came to mind watching Moscow launch a fresh wave of attacks on Ukrainian cities ahead of the New Year, adding there could be “no neutrality” in the face of such aggression.
The term “special military operation” was what Putin said his forces were embarking on.
War Against Ukraine Has Left Russia Isolated And Struturing With More Tumult Ahedrica Heshev: The Impact of Foreign Agents, Human Rights, and Social Media
Yet the war has also fundamentally upended Russian life — rupturing a post-Soviet period in which the country pursued, if not always democratic reforms, then at least financial integration and dialogue with the West.
The military or leadership has been found to have been banned by the Draconian laws that were passed in February. Nearly 20,000 people have been detained for demonstrating against the war — 45% of them women — according to a leading independent monitoring group.
High profile opposition voices have been meted out lengthy prison sentences for questioning the conduct of the Russian army.
The repressions extend elsewhere: organizations and individuals are added weekly to a growing list of “foreign agents” and “non-desirable” organizations intended to damage their reputation among the Russian public.
Even the most revered human rights group of Russia, which was due to receive a peace prize in 2022, was forced to stop activities over alleged violations of the 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. Should the moment occur, few doubt the measures are intended to crush wider dissent.
Leading independent media outlets and a handful of vibrant, online investigative startups were forced to shut down or relocate abroad when confronted with new “fake news” laws that criminalized contradicting the official government line.
Restrictions extend to internet users as well. American social media giants were banned in March. Since the beginning of the conflict, the Russian internet regulator has blocked over 100,000 websites.
Russians are still able to access independent sources of information using technical workarounds. But state media propaganda now blankets the airwaves favored by older Russians, with angry TV talk shows spreading conspiracies.
The Russian Exodus: What Has Moscow Learned in the First Two Decades of the Cold War? And What Has Putin Done About It?
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.
The largest outflow of Russian men was triggered by the order to mobilize 300,000 additional troops in September.
Putin argued it was good riddance, part of a “self-cleansing” of Russian society from traitors and spies. Russian officials have suggested that people who have left the country of their passport should be stripped of their citizenship. There are concerns whether Russia can thrive without its best and brightest.
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.
Helped by Russian price controls, the ruble regained value. New names and Russian ownership eventually led to McDonald’s and other brands being reborn. By year’s end, the government reported the economy had declined by 2.5%, far less than most economists predicted.
The West continues to try and crimp Russian energy profits, by capping the amount countries will pay for Russian oil and limiting seaborne oil imports. The efforts are cutting into profits.
President Putin thinks Europe will blink first when it comes to sanctions because of the anger they feel at home over rising energy costs. He announced a five-month ban on oil exports to countries that abide by the price cap, a move likely to make the pain more acute 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.
The government’s tone is unchanging when it comes to Russia’s military campaign. Russia’s Defense Ministry provides daily briefings recounting endless successes 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.
It has lost the gains it made in the province. And it has had to withdraw its only forces west of the Dnipro River in Kherson province because the Ukrainians made the vital bridge connections to those forces impassable, took out the headquarters and logistics sites supporting those forces, and isolated them from the rest of the Russian elements east of the river.
Moscow has been unable to establish full control of the lands it claims as its own after it illegally annexed four territories of Ukraine following unrecognized referendums.
The true number of Russian losses – officially at just under 6,000 men – remains a highly taboo subject at home. Estimates from western sources place the figures much higher.
Putin’s Russia-Analysis: Defeasible and Violent Action During Cold War and the Russian-Soviet War
Petraeus notes that the NATO alliance was achieved by Russian President Vladimir Putin even though he set out to Make Russia Great Again with his invasion of Ukraine.
In the old days, it would have been unthinkable for allies in Central Asia to criticize Russia out of concern for their own sovereignty. India and China have eagerly purchased discounted Russian oil, but have stopped short of full-throated support for Russia’s military campaign.
A state of the nation address, originally scheduled for April, was repeatedly delayed and won’t happen until next year. The “direct line” was canceled because Putin didn’t want to answer questions from ordinary Russians.
The December big press conference that allows the Russian leader to handle questions from mostly pro-Kremlin media was tabled until 2023.
The US military thought it would take as long as until May for the Russians to be able to regenerate power for a sustained offensive, but Russian leaders wanted action sooner. A senior US military official told CNN that the US now thinks it’s probable that Russian forces are moving before they’re ready.
America has done this before. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the most dangerous nuclear confrontation so far, the Soviet Union’s position shifted in a matter of days, ultimately accepting an outcome that favored the West. The US might have accepted an inferior compromise that weakened its security and credibility if red lines had been in use.
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Lynne Tracy Arrives in Moscow, after a Russian invasion of Soledar by Ukraine on Monday
The U.S. and Germany each announced they would send tanks to Ukraine, after months of resistance to the Ukrainian government’s repeated requests. Germany also said other countries, like Poland, can give Ukraine their German-made Leopard 2 tanks.
Biden affirmed the new commitment in a telephone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday. Germany will also send Ukraine new fighting vehicles, along with a Patriot missile battery to protect against Russian air attacks.
Those systems had been at the top of Zelensky’s wish list because it will allow his military to target Russian missiles flying at a higher altitude than they were able to target previously.
The United Kingdom will be used as a training ground for the use of the country’s tanks by the Ukrainian troops.
The International Monetary Fund releases its latest World Economic Outlook (Tuesday morning in Singapore, Monday night ET). The Russia-Ukraine war is a factor in causing economic downturn in some countries according to the International Monetary Fund.
A group of European Commission leaders is expected to visit Ukraine on Thursday and European Union leaders plan to hold a summit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy the following day.
Ukraine’s military acknowledged the Russian takeover of Soledar, retreating from the eastern town after a tough battle. Russian forces continued to bomb the areas around Bakmut in eastern Ukraine.
New U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy arrived in Moscow, at a time of strong tensions between the two governments over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Monday, Tracy was reportedly heckled by protesters as she entered the Russian Foreign Ministry to present her credentials.
The ambassadors of Russia to the Baltic states were told to leave after the Kremlin said it was expelling the ambassador of one of them.
Following Danilov’s comments, a Ukrainian military spokesperson said Wednesday that there a signs Russia is preparing for a renewed offensive in southern Ukraine.
“These will be defining months in the war,” Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told Sky News in an interview broadcast Tuesday.
Air War Between the United States and Ukraine: Where Do We Stand? What Do We Know? Why Do We Need Pilots? How Do We See Them?
Military representatives from the two countries will be practicing their use of troops together over the course of a week according to the ministry.
Yet one thing makes this battle distinctive from all previous air wars of the past century: pilots are rare. And this goes very much against the traditional perception of air combat.
“Top Gun: Maverick is Oscar-nominated this year for Best Picture. And here we are, watching an air war happening. And it looks very different from anything that we see in Top Gun,” said Kelly Grieco, with the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank.
“There are [piloted] aircraft that are still flying at times. Grieco, who keeps close tabs on the air war, said that there are a small number of sorties compared to past wars.
He knows them well and is familiar with them. Gersten flew combat missions as an F-16 pilot early in his career, and later commanded U.S. drone operations in the Middle East. He saw drones assume a prominent role in the U.S. air campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. pilots played a large role in those conflicts, as did the US alone.
We are, however, seeing some glimpses and hints of what the future of warfare might look like. The US will double in range from 70-80 kilometers to 150 kilometers when it provides precision munitions to Ukranian, so the Ukrainian will be able to use drones to identify Russian headquarters and other targets.
Chell said that they were contacted by an American aid group that couldn’t get their ambulances into besieged cities and wanted to use our drones.
“When I ask about F-16, I never heard about a problem with the spare parts or the supply chain. The answer was normally, ‘Oleksii, you know, it’s a very long period of training courses for your pilots.'” But President Biden has been clear. The U.S. is sending air defenses, but not fighter jets — which would put more vulnerable pilots and expensive planes in the sky.
The future of warfare in Ukraine is not the same as the past, nor is the future: CNN’s Peter Bergen and Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise Europe tour, meeting leaders in London, Paris and Brussels, and reiterating his call for allies to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
For the second year in a row, Oksana Markarova attended the State of the Union speech but this time there wasn’t as much attention given to the war in Ukraine.
There is strong indications that the Russian President gave the go-ahead to supply anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels in Ukraine.
“It’s unlikely Russian forces will be particularly better organized and so unlikely they’ll be particularly more successful, though they do seem willing to send more troops into the meat grinder,” a senior British official told CNN.
A senior Ukrainian diplomat told CNN that they had the manpower to take only one or two small cities. It was overwhelming compared to the sense of panic that they were trying to build.
The US Defense Secretary said that the US wasn’t seeing Russiamassing its aircraft ahead of an aerial operation.
Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America, and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. CNN has more opinion on it.
Petraeus is a person. I believe that with a few exceptions, Ukraine is not the future of warfare. In large measure, it is what we would have seen had the Cold War turned hot in the mid-1980s – with largely Cold War weapons systems (albeit with some modernization).
Petraeus: The Biden Administration has led NATO and the western world very impressively in responding to the Russian incursion with huge quantities of weaponry, material, and economic assistance. And also guiding the effort to impose economic, financial and personal sanctions and export controls on Russia. I am careful to point out that I am not a member of a political party and was very critical of the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.
The Petraeus: It is not Russia. Russia has, after all, lost the Battles of Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv; failed to take the rest of Ukraine’s southern coast (not even getting through Mykolaiv, much less to the major port at Odesa).
So, the situation is essentially a stalemate at present, albeit with Russia making costly attacks in several areas, and with both sides building up forces for offensive operations expected in the late winter (likely the Russians) and spring/summer (the Ukrainians).
What the Future of War between Advanced Powers would be: Measuring Putin’s Standing Order Against War and Destroying NATO
Perhaps most notably, of course, we see a war taking place, for the first time, in a context that includes the widespread presence of smart phones, internet connectivity, and social media and other internet sites.
But, again, these are just hints of what the future of war between advanced powers would be. In such a conflict, the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems would be incomparably more capable; precision munitions would have vastly greater range, speed and explosive power.
There would be vastly more capable robotic systems operating not only in the air, but also at sea, on the ground, and in cyberspace.
I recall an adage back in the Cold War days that stated, “If it can be seen, it can be hit; if it can be hit, it can be killed.” We didn’t have the capabilities needed to operate that adage in those days. In the future, however, just about everything – certainly every platform, base and headquarters – will be seen and thus be susceptible to being hit and destroyed (unless there are substantial defenses and hardening of those assets).
Imagining all this underscores, of course, that we must take innumerable actions to transform our forces and systems. We must deter future conflict by ensuring that there are no questions about our capabilities or our willingness to employ them – and also by doing everything possible to ensure that competition among great powers does not turn into conflict among them.
NATO’s unity and staying power has confounded skeptics, largely due to Biden’s leadership. But political conditions in Washington and allied nations are not static and could shape Putin’s thinking.
Petraeus: All of the above and more. The list is long, including poor campaign design; wholly inadequate training (what were they doing for all those months they were deployed on the northern, eastern, and southern borders of Ukraine?); poor command, control, and communications; inadequate discipline (and a culture that condones war crimes and abuse of local populations); poor equipment (exemplified by turrets blowing off of tanks when fires ignite in them); insufficient logistic capabilities; inability to achieve combined arms effects (to employ all ground and air capabilities effectively together); inadequate organizational architecture; lack of a professional noncommissioned officer corps; a top-down command system that does not promote initiative at lower levels and pervasive corruption that undermines every aspect of their military – and the supporting military-industrial complex.
Petraeus: Not at all. Russia still has enormous military capacity and is certainly still a nuclear superpower, as well as a country with enormous energy, mineral and agricultural blessings. Germany and Turkey have a population of 80 million and 70 million, respectively.
Russian Warfare in the Era of the Cold Cold War: The Instant Contribution of the United States to the Ukraine War (and More)
And it is still led by a kleptocratic dictator who embraces innumerable grievances and extreme revanchist views that severely undermine his decision-making.
Bergen: You know the observation sometimes attributed to Stalin: “Quantity has a quality all its own.” Russia has a far bigger population than Ukraine: Will that make a critical difference to the Ukraine war over the long term?
Nonetheless, it is estimated that as many as 300,000 new recruits and mobilized reservists are being sent to the frontlines, with up to 100,000-150,000 more on the way. And that is not trivial – because quantity does, indeed, matter.
Thus, Ukrainians know what they are fighting for, while it is not clear that the same is true of many of the Russian soldiers, a disproportionate number of whom are from ethnic and sectarian minorities in the Russian Federation.
In fact, the Ukrainians have also shown exceptional abilities to “McGyver” solutions for a variety of problems – whether adapting Western missiles for use on MiG-29 fighter aircraft, repairing battle-damaged armored vehicles left on the battlefield by the Russians (remember the Ukrainians’ “tractor army”), or jamming Russian communications.
To get back to fighting, the Ukrainians learned how to use new weapons systems more rapidly than anyone anticipated, and they also want to get back to the fight as quickly as possible.
To be sure, there have been times when I have felt that we should have decided to provide various capabilities (e.g., HIMARS, longer-range precision munitions, tanks, etc.) sooner than we have.
Eventually, for example, Ukraine is going to have to transition from eastern bloc aircraft (e.g., MiG-29s) to western ones (e.g., F-16s). There just aren’t any more MiGs to provide to them, and they reportedly have more pilots than aircraft at this point.
So, we might as well begin the process of transition, noting that it will take a number of months, regardless, to train pilots and maintenance personnel. All that said, again, I think the Administration has done a very impressive job and proven to be the indispensable nation in this particular situation – with important ramifications for other situations around the world.
The first open-source war in Ukraine: Zelensky’s voice in the Wagner Group of the Soviets vs the media of the Ukrainian government
Bergen: The quasi-private Wagner Group is the force that Putin sends into the meat grinder of the toughest battles. Many of the convicts are using mercenaries as a tactic.
Petraeus: What Russia has done with what are, in essence, mercenaries, as you note, is somewhat innovative – but also essentially inhumane, as it entails throwing soldiers (many of them former convicts) into battle as cannon fodder, and with little, if any, concern for their survival.
These are not the practices that help develop units with a sense of trust in their leaders and soldiers on the left and right.
What lessons would be learned by the Ukrainian people if the Chinese were to launch an attack on Taiwan over a 120-mile body of water rather than a land border? Does the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea navy, reshape how the Chinese might think about this question?
If the target of the operation has a population who is willing to fight for its survival with major powers supporting it, and with sanctions and export controls in place, then it should be considered a success.
Is this the first open-source war? The war in Ukraine is being fought in part on social media by Zelensky; commercial overhead satellites capture Russian battle groups moving around in real-time, and the social media accounts of Russian mercenaries in the Wagner Group document what they are doing.
A picture of Petraeus. Yes, I think it is. The first war in which social media has been available and used so widely is the one we are in. It’s the result of unprecedented transparency and an extraordinary amount of information being provided through so-called open sources.
Petraasus: There will be several new features this year, most significantly the additional capabilities on the Ukrainian side: Western tanks and infantry fighting vehicles; longer-range and larger precision munitions for the US-provided HIMARS (high mobility artillery rocket systems) that will enable precise strikes out to 150 kilometers (twice the range of the current precision munition); additional air defense systems of various types; augmented air defenses and additional wheeled armored vehicles, as well as enormous quantities of additional ammunition of all types.
The End of the War: How the US and the Western Alliance Can Together Ensure the Security of the Cold War, and in the Warsaw Pact
You asked a rhetorical question at the beginning of the Iraq War, “How this ends?” The war in Ukraine is about to end.
Also when Ukraine reaches the limits of its ability to withstand missile and drone strikes, getting a Marshall-like plan (developed by the US and G7) to help rebuild the country, and gaining an ironclad security guarantee (either NATO membership or, if that is not possible, a US-led coalition guarantee).
US and Western leaders are working together to show unity and strength to ensure that NATO is in the fight until Moscow is defeated.
“Russia has lost – they’ve lost strategically, operationally, and tactically,” the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said on Tuesday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Wednesday that “Putin must realize that he cannot win” as he explained the rationale for rushing arms and ammunition to Ukrainian forces. Smith told Anderson that the US was applying pressure on Moscow in order to affect Putin.
The Western offensive will intensify as Vice President Kamala Harris heads to the conference this week. President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Poland and the former Warsaw Pact state will bolster his legacy as the most effective leader of the Western alliance since the end of the Cold War.
Reply to “Comment on ‘There’s not a War Between the EU and the US” by D. Gaetz, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, O.J. Hill, C.
In the US House for instance, some members of the new Republican majority are skittish. Gaetz demanded an end to aid to Ukraine and the US to immediately demand for a peace deal with all warring parties. It is a bipartisan majority in both the House and the Senate. But it’s not certain Biden can guarantee massive multi-billion dollar aid packages for Ukraine in perpetuity. And US aid might be in serious doubt if ex-President Donald Trump or another Republican wins the 2024 election.
The outside world knows that Putin isn’t contemplating an exit from the war because of the lack of a diplomatic framework for truce talks.
While testifying at a Senate Committee hearing on Wednesday, Hill said that Putin was determined and there were no signs that he was losing his determination.
Even before the flight of a Chinese espionage balloon across the US, there was no chance of China leaning on Putin for an end to the war.
Even if Beijing gets embarrassed at Putin in Ukraine as it did last year when the two sides made a no limits partnership, it might be an advantage for the US to see Russia as it builds up its power in Asia.
Sherman said that the US was concerned about the increasing ties between China and Russia, though admitted that the US was not in a position to take action at this time.
The chancellor said the most important decision would be to say that we will do our best and that we are willing to do it as long as necessary.
“I’m absolutely sure that Putin never expected that there would be that united Europe, and that there would be that united world. He never thought that the partnership would work out well.
He said that he really appreciates his government’s strong alliance with the US and added that they just do it together.
Security Conference in Kiev, Ukraine: The threat of a “war of aggression” on Europe’s soil by Russia and Central Powers of the Kremlin
“Many of them are not able to deliver the most modern things, but that does not mean we won’t support them as well,” he said. “And as you know, there is also a big number of older tanks which we will deliver.”
Confronted on concerns over dwindling ammunition stockpiles, Scholz stressed the need for a “permanent production of the most important weapons,” including ammunition.
The conference is more important than ever, according to German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.
“From the beginning, the security conference has always been a place of understanding and dialogue. What is new is that this is now taking place at the same time as a war of aggression is being waged on European soil by Russia against Ukraine,” Pistorius said. That raises the stakes even higher for the conference.
Rather than press Ukraine to undertake offensive operations, the administration and Democratic and Republican congressional allies must impress upon the American public the extraordinary high stakes for America in the outcome of a war fought so many thousands of miles from our shores.
The administration thinks that the State of the Union pledge to supportUkraine is still valid, according to The Post. According to the report, an administration official said they were only concerned with the amount of conflict and not the amount of assistance.
This is not a good idea. Despite the remarkable success of the Ukrainian military thus far, pushing Ukraine to mount a premature offensive could have catastrophic results. It will take time for Ukraine to receive the deliveries of advanced Western tanks, for example. Before Ukraine has a maintenance infrastructure in place, the deployment of those tanks could result in unacceptable losses and wasted resources.