David is looking at the other side of the world

Vladimir V. Putin’s unified vision of Russia as a strategy to stabilize the position of the Ukrainian peninsula in the presence of troops and mercenaries

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signed decrees on Friday to declare four Ukrainian regions part of Russia as the Kremlin seeks to solidify its tenuous hold over Ukrainian territory through a widely denounced illegal annexation.

The Kremlin reflected the disarray of its forces on the ground, where territory was rapidly changing hands, acknowledging that it did not yet know what new borders Russia would claim in southern Ukraine. “In terms of the borders, we’re going to continue to consult with the population of these regions,” Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters on Monday.

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.

“One wish for all Ukrainians,” he said. This year will be the year of return. The return of our people. Soldiers — to their families. Prisoners — to their homes. Immigrants are going to their country of origin. The return of our lands. And the temporarily occupied will be free of charge in the future.

The Russian president framed the annexation as an attempt to fix what he sees as a great historical mistake that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Senior US and European officials say that Putin’s aims haven’t changed since he launched his invasion a year ago. Russia has recently made gains in the east despite humiliating setbacks for his military and an apparent power struggle with a mercenary group. Putin’s troops appear poised to take the city of Bakhmut, the first significant Russian military victory in months.

Russia will now go ahead with the plan to fly its flag over 100,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory, even as the international community condemns it.

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.

The Battle of Stalingrad and the war in Ukraine were both referred to in Putin’s speech as the moment when the strength of the Soviet Union shifted against Germany.

He showed the range of military actions by the Western world over the centuries, from the British Opium War in China in the 19th century to the Vietnam and Korean Wars.

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

Two military bases in Russia were struck by the Ukrainians. The New York Times reported that drones launched from Ukrainian territory to attack Russia demonstrated Ukraine’s willingness to take the fight deep into Russia and capabilities to attack at a distance.

The Kremlin’s Fourth Decretary: Confirming the Ukraine War With The Russian Embassy and a “Rate and Future”

There is a celebration on Red Square. Next week will be the time for official approval of the decree, according to the spokesman for the Kremlin.

The moves follow staged referendums held in occupied territory during a war 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.

The two eastern regions are considered to be Mr. Putin’s primary prize and cementing Russia’s hold could allow him to declare a victory at a time when hawks in Russia criticize Russian forces for not doing enough.

In spite of his recent army drive, Putin won’t reverse his battlefield losses any time soon or afford to pay a political tab.

Despite Russia’s military setbacks, President Putin is doubling down to convince his people that he needs to support the government on this, so that they won’t rebel against him.

“The people made their choice,” said Putin during the signing ceremony. “And that choice won’t be betrayed” by Russia, he said.

Given the success of Ukraine’s military in recent months, the ongoing solidarity in NATO’s stance, and the unequivocal nature of Kyiv’s desire to regain and maintain control of its pre-2014 borders, there is little sign that negotiations can bring about an end to the war in its current phase.

Outside the Kremlin, preparations were under way for an evening concert and rally with banners saying Russia and the newly integrated territories are “together forever.”

The movement capped a week in which the Kremlin orchestrated referendums in Russian-occupied territories in order to convince the people of the benefits of joining Russia.

This justification for Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine is absurd on its face and has been rejected by overwhelming majorities in the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice.

The decision was framed by Putin as historical justice in the aftermath of the break up of the Soviet Union that left Russian speakers separated from their homeland.

Once again, Western powers accused Russia this month of using the guise of staged votes to justify its annexation of Ukraine’s territory — often at the barrel of a gun.

Now that Russia’s parliament and constitutional court has formally approved the territories becoming part of the Russian Federation, it’s expected that their approval will be a foregone conclusion.

The Russian annexation of the Baltic states unfolded as the Russian government tries to boost its military strength in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Russian officials said that the newly incorporated territories would get protections under Russia’s nuclear umbrella.

President Zelensky said all along that this would be resolved through diplomacy. We will be ready when Russia demonstrates that it has any seriousness of purpose in engaging in such diplomacy. It’s a pity that every sign points in the opposite direction.

Russian media quoted the FSB as saying that the total exodus was even higher. The number of military age men who have left the country since they were drafted is 261,000, an increase of 165,000 over the first six years of the war.

Western analysts have noted Russia has grumbled consistently about these deliveries, but been relatively muted in its practical response to the crossing of what, as recently as January, might have been considered “red lines.”

The current attack on military details by the Kremlin’s propagandists is similar to what the milblogger discourse was last week. General statements of progress were the focus of the Kremlin narrative. The Kremlin had never openly recognized a major failure in the war prior to its devastating loss in Kharkiv Oblast, which prompted the partial reserve mobilization.”

He used the same playbook annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and now, like then, threatens potential nuclear strikes should Ukraine, backed by its Western allies, try to take the annexed territories back.

Biden tried to avoid a confrontation with Russia over the Ukrainian conflict, even though Putin said the conflict was a confrontation with the West. Russians are winning and this leads Putin to the same corner that Kennedy warned against in the past, where the Russian President could face a choice between humiliation or use of a nuclear weapon.

Detection of Explosive Shock Waves from the Seabed and Russia’s Response to European Security and Russian-Polish Forces

Both Danish and Swedish seismologists recorded explosive shockwaves from close to the seabed: the first, at around 2 a.m. local time, hitting 2.3 magnitude, then again, at around 7 p.m., registering 2.1.

Within hours, roiling patches of water were discovered, Danes and Germans sent warships to secure them, and Norway increased security around its oil and gas facilities.

Russia denies responsibility and says it has launched its own investigation. The signs point to Russia having the expertise to do this type of damage, because it can easily lay bombs by these pipes in the water, said John Brennan, former CIA chief.

Russian naval vessels were seen by European security officials in the area in the days prior, Western intelligence sources have said. NATO’s North Atlantic Council has described the damage as a “deliberate, reckless and irresponsible act of sabotage.”

The second and thirdNord Streams were shut down by Putin as Europe raced to replenish gas reserves ahead of winter, while dialling back demands for Russian supplies and searching for replacement providers.

Putin’s invasion of Crimea: He threatened to annex the country, but Putin renounced his stance against the Kremlin

This war is also not some mere territorial dispute he’s likely to give up lightly. It’s born from his belief that Ukraine is not a country and must be folded into Russia. His survival in power could also depend on not being seen to have lost. After the annexation of Crimea, which the West says is in for the long haul, Putin has been in a war with the Ukrainians.

Putin accused Zelensky of refusing to negotiate and said all conflicts end with some kind of negotiations.

Volker expects Putin to pitch France and Germany first “to say, we need to end this war, we’re going to protect our territories at all costs, using any means necessary, and you need to put pressure on the Ukrainians to settle.”

“We continue to monitor his nuclear capabilities, Kate, best we can. And what I can tell you today is that we just don’t see any indications that Mr. Putin has made a decision to use weapons of mass destruction or even nuclear weapons. And we’ve seen nothing, Kate, that would give us cause to change our own deterrent posture,” Kirby said.

After weeks of fierce fighting Russia decided to retreat from the riverbank which had been used as a natural dividing line between Russia and the Ukrainians.

Two powerful Putin supporters railed against the Kremlin and called for using harsher fighting methods because they felt that there was no reason for the Russians to annex the south of the country.

The newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda published an article on Sunday which reported that in the last days of their occupation, Russian forces were plagued by desertion, poor planning, and a delayed arrival of reserves.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. Putin lost Lyman when he proclaimed that the area where he sits was now part of Russia.

The Russian War is Coming: Why Russia is Fighting the Cold War, And Why Do We Have to Run It Again? Commentary on Kadyrov and Dugin

On the Sunday broadcast, soldiers talked about how they had been forced to retreat because they were fighting with NATO soldiers.

The Institute for the Study of War said that the Russian information space was fundamentally changing due to battlefield setbacks and the lack of patriotism in Russian society. Kadyrov, a powerful man in the Russian power structure, has often been criticized by pro-war milbloggers who provide a detailed account of battlefield realities for Russian forces.

The broadcast seemed intended to convince Russians who have doubts about the war or feel anger over plans to call up as many as 300,000 civilians that any hardships they bear are to be blamed on a West that is bent on destroying Russia at all costs.

The idea that Russia is fighting a broader campaign was repeated in an interview with Aleksandr Dugin, a far-right thinker whose daughter, also a prominent nationalist commentator, was killed by a car bomb in August.

Victory will surely depend on the West maintaining a united front against Russia. Zelensky and his envoys in other countries warn Western leaders that the security of their own nations could be at stake if they don’t support the effort to push Putin back.

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 the West was accusing us of blowing up the gas line ourselves. We need to understand the scale and intensity of the war that we are having with the West. We must join this battle with an enemy that is going to use any and all means to destroy us.

The nonstop messaging campaign may be working, at least for now. A senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment forInternational Peace said that many Russians feel threatened by the West.

Russian President Putin is being criticized at home for taking risks by speaking out against his military operations in Ukraine, given the penalties they can face if they speak out.

Musk suggested in a poll that elections in areas annexed by Russia should be supervised by the UN. referendums that have been widely dismissed as a waste of time, money and effort are the reason for the land grab.

A majority of respondents on Twitter voted “No” in response to Musk’s poll. In a follow-up tweet, Musk appeared to blame these results on a “bot attack.”

In the early days of the war in Ukranian, Musk and one of his companies, SpaceX, provided Starlink internet terminals, which can be used anywhere with power and a clear view of the sky.

The Ukrainian officials did not like his musings after a months-long war left a trail of destruction.

Around 45% of Ukrainians distrusted Zelensky to lead them into war when Russian troops began tomass on their borders. He was rated higher because he failed to launch an effective fight against corruption in the judiciary and not keeping some of his campaign promises.

The defense Musk was using for his initial thread indicated that there was little chance of victory forUkraine, a country that has been quickly reclaimed of its territory in the northeast.

Musk wrote about foreign policy just a day after the car company announced lower-than-expected delivery and production numbers. It also comes amid his battle with the company over his attempt to back out of his $46 billion deal to buy it.

The War for Human Rights and Democracy: The Case of Mahsa Amini and the Kiev Manifesto at the London Synagogue

Editor’s Note: Frida Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. She is a weekly opinion contributor to CNN, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. Her views are her own in this commentary. You can also have a opinion on CNN.

Two groups of demonstrators came together in London on Sunday. One was waving Ukrainian flags; the other Iranian flags. They shouted “All together we will win” after they met.

Because they hold the moral high ground, the struggles of the Ukrainian and the Iranian people have inspired support around the globe among backers of democracy and human rights. Their brutality against fascists has gone to viral in this era of social media.

The bravery shown in these battles is almost unimaginable by most of us, and it is inspiring equally brave support in places like Afghanistan.

In Iran, the spark was the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month. Known as “Zhina,” she died in the custody of morality police who detained her for breaking the relentlessly, violently enforced rules requiring women to dress modestly.

In scenes of exhilarated defiance, Iranian women have danced around fires in the night, shedding the hijab – the headcover mandated by the regime – and tossing it into the flames.

Although the hijab is not the motivator of the peaceful uprising, men have joined them as the regime kills more and more protesters.

The Invasion of February, Russia: Mahsa Amini, the Russian Defense Forces, and the Syrian Government’s Armed Forces

After all, it was less than a decade ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military entered Syria’s long civil war, helping to save the dictator Bashar al-Assad (as Iran had).

As Washington warned that Zelensky was a “prime target for Russian aggression,” the Ukrainian president sent a message to his country and to the rest of the world, vowing to stay.

The invasion of February startedle in every way. To those who thought Moscow was sane enough to not attempt such a massive and foolhardy undertaking. To those who felt the Russian military would waltz across a land of 40 million people and switch to clean-up operations within 10 days. And to those who felt they had the technical and intelligence prowess to do more than just randomly bombard civilian areas with ageing artillery; that the Kremlin’s military had evolved from the 90s levelling of Grozny in Chechnya.

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.

Iran has already supplied Russia with hundreds of deadly drones, so much that they are making havoc on the lives of Ukrainians.

These are two regimes that, while very different in their ideologies, have much in common in their tactics of repression and their willingness to project power abroad.

In Iran, Niloofar hamedi is the first journalist to report on the case of Mahsa Amini. The profession of journalism in Russia is very dangerous. Condemning Putin is the same thing. After trying and failing to kill opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Putin’s people manufactured charges to keep him in a penal colony indefinitely.

For people in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, there’s more than passing interest in the admittedly low probability that the Iranian regime could fall. It would be transformative for their countries and their lives, heavily influenced by Tehran. Iran’s constitution calls for spreading the revolution.

“It’s hard to feel the pressure” of Russia when Vladimir Zelenskyy arrived in Ukraine and threatened to leave the country

The shock of war was different for everyone. Millions of Russians were destroyed by the events of Putin and the destruction of the country’s history.

Mr. Zlatev and his new business partner, a local osteopath, took their first crack at international arms dealing. Contract documents and other records obtained by The New York Times show that the deal relied on layers of middlemen and transit across seven countries. And it exists in a legal gray area, designed to skirt the arms-export rules of other countries.

The pair recently sent a letter to the Ministry of Defense in Ukraine. They outlined a plan to sell American, Bulgarian and Bosnian arms to Ukraine.

The U.S. emphasis has turned to supplying Ukraine with military and economic aid, support that has so far topped $110 billion. Biden had only a few words about the aid, and one brief allusion.

Many in Ukraine seem to accept his explanation, but they also say Zelenskyy’s government failed to prepare the country to defend itself. The actions of that person has made a lot of people angry.

A person with knowledge of Biden’s planning for a potential visit to Ukraine said that he only once expressed concern about the level of risk his visit could cause, rather than his own safety. Some officials were very worried about Biden and prepared a number of security contingency plans for the trip.

“He’s not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”

US officials have also said, however, that they have detected no sign that Russia is moving or readying any of its tactical nuclear weapons, which can be small enough to target soldier formations or big enough to destroy a city.

A Conversation with Biden about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Nuclear Age: The Cost of Chaos, the Trump Administration, and the World

Biden is trying to figure out what Putin is doing at the off ramp. “Where does he find a way out? Where is he when he loses face but has significant power within Russia? Biden said it was true.

It was the first time a US president had mentioned the risks of a missile crisis in over a decade and the anniversary of the 1959 Cuban Missile Crisis is just days away.

“Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war,” Kennedy said.

“To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy – or of a collective death-wish for the world.”

The entire strategic logic between maintaining nuclear weapons for self-defense is that they are too terrible to be used, and any nation that did would be writing their own death warrant.

At the event, Biden said there was nothing he could do to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.

Peter Bergen is a CNN national security analyst, a vice president at New America, and a professor at Arizona State University. Bergen is the author of “The Cost of Chaos: The Trump Administration and the World.” The views expressed in this commentary are his own. CNN has more opinion on it.

Why did Putin and Russia Win the War in Afghanistan? Commentary on Putin’s “Giant Myths” about the Russian Revolution and the First World War

His revisionist account defines his rationale for the war in Ukranian, even though he asserts that the war was fought to keep Russia as a part of the Soviet Union.

According to a new book, the Soviets planned to install a puppet government in Afghanistan and leave the country as soon as possible.

The US was initially reticent to escalate its support for the Afghan resistance due to fear of a larger conflict with the Soviet Union. The CIA was able to end the Soviets’ air superiority in Afghanistan with their anti-aircraft missiles by 1986, three years after they left the country.

All of this explains why western strategists see the next phase of the war as critical, as Russian forces prepare for an apparent spring offensive and Ukraine awaits the arrival of recently pledged western tanks that it hopes will turn the tide.

The satellite-guided HIMARS — short for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System — currently have a range of 80 kilometers. Despite repeated Ukrainian pleas, a long-range 300- kilometer HIMARS hasn’t yet been authorized. The Biden administration is concerned that the system could lead to war beyond the frontiers of Ukraine.

Putin is also surely aware that the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was hastened by the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan two years earlier.

Looking further back into the history books, he must also know that the Russian loss in the Russo-Japanese war in 1905 weakened the Romanov monarchy. Czar Nicholas II’s leadership during the First World War and the Russian Revolution precipitated each other. The Romanov family was killed by the Bolsheviks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin cast the campaign as a “special military operation” – not a war – and told citizens that they could, essentially, forget about the conflict in Ukraine. He promised draftees would not fight, and military operations would be left to the professionals. And Putin’s Ministry of Defense delivered platitudes about progress on the battlefield, talking points quickly parroted by Russian state television.

More than seven months into the war, the “genius” myth has unraveled. In the past 2 weeks, 200,000 Russian men have voted to flee Putin’s Partial Mobilization order. They are aware that the war is going badly for Russia, despite all the propagandists.

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.

Biden’s remarks to the American people and the nuclear Armageddon threat: How he’s going to have to leave the White House

Biden’s blunt assessment caught several senior US officials by surprise, largely due to that lack of any new intelligence to drive them and the grim language Biden deployed.

Biden’s remarks provide a window into a very real, very ongoing discussions inside his administration as they attempt to calibrate the response to that environment.

While most of what Biden says at the fundraisers is familiar, he has made comments previously that went beyond his remarks to larger audiences. Biden declared the Trump-aligned Republicans to be “semi-fascist” at a Maryland fundraiser, and said the views of the Catholic Church on abortion had changed.

His remarks are usually only slotted for 10 minutes but in the past he has stretched to half an hour or more, expounding on various topics. After the remarks, reporters are escorted out and Biden takes questions from the donors.

Biden’s comments about the prospect of nuclear Armageddon were not scripted and aides back in Washington first learned about his remarks through news reports and dispatches from the press pool in the room.

The President’s use of Armageddon was a good example of the fact that there is no escalation ladder when it comes to nuclear weapons. Any move in that direction sets off a cascading response that only has one outcome.

Several officials pointed out that US officials have been concerned about the threats and potential for use of nuclear weapons since the first days of the war.

One official characterized the speech as “insane,” and while that bolstered the US view of Russian weakness and isolation, it also further increased concern about Putin’s willingness to escalate beyond the level of a rational actor.

White House officials decided not to say anything publicly Thursday night, and there are no plans to address the remarks in isolation so far on Friday morning. It will be apparent if Biden wants to address it himself, when he leaves for Maryland later in the morning, according to one official.

There has been no change in US posture or specific intel that raises the threat level above where it has been.

There have been direct communications to Moscow in the last several weeks detailing the scale of the US response should Putin decide to go down that path. Those details remain closely held, and officials say that won’t change any time soon.

“First of all, we need to stop lying,” said Andrei Kartopolov, a former colonel-general in the Russian military and a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. “We brought this up many times before … But somehow it’s apparently not getting through to individual senior figures.”

Kartapolov complained that the Ministry of Defense was evading the truth about incidents such as Ukrainian cross-border strikes in Russian regions neighboring Ukraine.

Near the border with Ukranians, Valuyki is in the Belgorod region. In regards to striking Russian targets across the border, Kyiv adopts a neither-confirm-nor-deny stance.

The entire ministry of defense is not necessary to be cast a shadow over because incompetent commanders are responsible for the processes and gaps that exist today. “Indeed, many say that the Minister of Defense [Sergei Shoigu], who allowed this situation to happen, could, as an officer, shoot himself. But, you know, the word officer is an unfamiliar word for many.”

But after Russia’s retreat from the strategic Ukrainian city of Lyman, Kadyrov has been a lot less shy about naming names when it comes to blaming Russian commanders.

Kadyrov accused Lapin of moving his headquarters away from his subordinates and not giving his troops enough food and water.

“The Russian information space has significantly deviated from the narratives preferred by the Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) that things are generally under control,” ISW noted in its recent analysis.

When he was promoted to the rank of colonel general, Chechen leader Kadyrov argued for the use of less harsh methods. He said in one Telegram post that if he had his way, he would give the government extraordinary wartime powers in Russia.

“Yes, if it were my will, I would declare martial law throughout the country and use any weapon, because today we are at war with the whole NATO bloc,” Kadyrov said in a post that also seemed to echo Putin’s not-so-subtle threats that Russia might contemplate the use of nuclear weapons.

The Kyrgyzstan-Kuzmin Crisis: a crisis in a remote village recalled by the Prime Minister of Ukraine

It was a disaster that could have killed tens of millions of Americans and untold numbers of Soviet citizens if the deal hadn’t been made.

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.

Russian missiles damaged a glass-bottomed footbridge in Kyiv that is a popular tourist site, tore into intersections at rush hour and crashed down near a children’s playground on Monday. Power outages rolled across the country, in places cutting off water supplies and transport, in strikes that recalled the terror inflicted on civilians in the invasion’s early days but that had largely ebbed in recent months.

The Ukrainian military said that the majority of cruise missiles fired at Ukraine on Thursday were intercepted, with its defense forces shooting down 54 of 69, according to preliminary data. Klitschko said 16 missiles were destroyed by Ukraine’s air defenses over Kyiv.

The subway system in the city was out of commission for several hours on Monday. Rescue workers were trying to save people from the rubble, so the alert for air raids was lifted at midday.

In his speech Monday, the Prime Minister of Ukraine said that a total of 11 critical infrastructure facilities had been damaged.

In western Ukraine, Lviv Mayor Andrii Sadovyi said 90% of the city was without power, cautioning that the city’s waterworks could also to stop working with electricity down.

Putin’s carpet bombing of Kiev is a hammering of the nation into submission, not because it hurts the Ukrainian people

On Monday, Putin held an operational meeting of his security council, a day after he characterized the bridge blasts as a terrorist attack and claimed the Ukrainian special services were behind them.

To add to Putin’s sense of humiliation, the bridge explosion came amid a surging Ukrainian counteroffensive that has seized key pockets of Russian-controlled territory, including in regions Putin recently annexed.

The Russian-appointed head of annexed Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said he had “good news” Monday, claiming that Russia’s approaches to what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine “have changed.”

He said that if the actions to destroy the infrastructure had been taken every day, we would have defeated the regime in May.

Still, there remain hardliners like Pavel Gubarev, Russia’s puppet leader in Donetsk, who voiced his real intention toward Ukrainians: “We aren’t coming to kill you, but to convince you. But if you don’t want to be convinced, we’ll kill you. We have to either kill 1 million, 5 million, or all of you.

NATO leaders have vowed to stand behind Ukraine regardless of how long the war takes, but several European countries – particularly those that relied heavily on Russian energy – are staring down a crippling cost-of-living crisis which, without signs of Ukrainian progress on the battlefield, could endanger public support.

But the proximate reason for this action was in fact Putin’s utterly inhumane 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.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the attacks “another unacceptable escalation of the war and, as always, civilians are paying the highest price.”

CNN Opinion: Energy Crisis in Ukraine During the Breakdown of the Kerch Straggler Bridge during the War of Reciprocity

The office of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed to CNN that the G7 group of nations is going to hold an emergency meeting via video conference on Tuesday and Zelensky said on his account that he would address that meeting.

Michael Bociurkiw 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 writes for CNN Opinion. The opinions expressed are of his own. View more opinion at CNN.

Fears of retaliation by the Russian government were always present despite the exuberance of the explosion that struck the hugely strategic and symbolic Kerch Straight bridge over the weekend.

The strikes happened while people headed to work and kids were getting dropped off at school. A friend in Ukraine told me that she had just left the bridge when it was 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).

Just a few hours earlier, Zaporizhzhia was hit by multiple strikes on apartment buildings, mostly while people slept. At least 17 people were killed and several dozens injured.

Around 30% ofUkraine’s energy infrastructure was hit by missile attacks on Monday and Tuesday, according to Herman Halushchenko, the Energy Minister. The minister told CNN that this was the first time Russia has targeted an energy infrastructure during the war.

In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, which has seen more bombardments than Kyiv, residents shifted to war footing and stocked up on canned food, gas and drinking water. Yet they also entertained themselves at the Typsy Cherry, a local bar. The owner of the business told The Times that the mood was cheerful. “People drank, had fun and wondered when the electricity will resume.” (Power came back hours later.)

Businesses have been asked to shift work online and millions of people are expected to spend most of the day in bomb shelters, at the urging of officials.

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 symbolism of the only bridge linking mainland Russia and Crimea cannot be overstated. Adding insult to injury is that the attack occurred a day after his 70th birthday, and can be viewed as a blow to his ability to survive shame and humiliation.

Hardwiring newly claimed territory with expensive, record-breaking infrastructure projects seems to be a penchant of dictators. In November of 2018, Putin personally 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 road bridge took about two years to open.

The Response of Putin to the Ukranian Explosion: The Challenge for the Security and Security of the Democracy in the Era of Reunification

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

Putin has been placed on thin ice by increasing criticism at home and the desperation that he has shown.

The Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate at Ukranian Defense Ministry told a journalist in August that they had to enter the peninsula by the end of the year.

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.

The moral and ethical obligation of the world’s democracies to help a nation which is threatened by an authoritarian power was the first reason why the West responded immediately. The principle of national self- determination is at the core of American foreign policy. The US administrations have honored it imperfectly, as does the case with many guiding principles. It’s valuable when trying to find a way forward. In sending an armored column toward Kyiv and seeking to overthrow its government, Mr. Putin clearly violated that principle, and threatens to return Europe to the instability of previous eras, when nations frequently invaded each other and altered the continent’s borders by force.

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.

Joe Biden meets Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev: Predictions for the arrival of the United States air defense system, as seen by CNN

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.

President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday after a deluge of Russian missiles targeted cities across Ukraine, condemning the strikes and pledging continued US security assistance “including advanced air defense systems.”

“What is at stake here is more than just the success and survival of the nation of Ukraine,” Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. Biden is expected to say the war has ramifications for “the rules-based international order, fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the fundamental values of independence, democracy, freedom that matter so much to everyday American people,” Sullivan said.

A senior administration official said they had no announcements to make on that front, but they would continue to provide Ukrainians with air defense systems.

The US had not delivered NASAMS to Ukraine by the time of the Department of Defense briefing. At the time, Brig. Two of the eight systems are expected to arrive in the next two months, with the other six arriving at an yet-to- be determined date.

John Kirby said that Washington was looking favorably on the requests fromUkraine and that he was in touch with the government there almost every day. “We do the best we can in subsequent packages to meet those needs,” he told CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

“It’s clear that he’s feeling the pressure both at home and overseas, and how he reacts to that only he can say,” Kirby told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure: a critical window into Putin’s new strategy for the war on the battlefield (after the Crimea explosion on Monday, February 21)

The city dwellers, who spent months in the air raid shelters as a result of the war in the subways, have been affected by the attacks and are frightened of new strikes.

But the targets on Monday also had little military value and, if anything, served to reflect Putin’s need to find new targets because of his inability to inflict defeats on Ukraine on the battlefield.

The war could be affected by the two headline packages. The threat from Russia is its bombardment of energy infrastructure. It’s getting cold so much that some cities are going to go into darkness for 12 hours a day and sometimes longer.

The attack on civilians that killed at least 14 people, drove new attention to the fact that the US and its allies have already sent billions of dollars of arms and kits to Ukrainians in an effective war against Moscow.

Kirby was also unable to say whether Putin was definitively shifting his strategy from a losing battlefield war to a campaign to pummel civilian morale and inflict devastating damage on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, though he suggested it was a trend developing in recent days and had already been in the works.

It was likely something that they had been planning for a long time. Now that’s not to say that the explosion on the Crimea bridge might have accelerated some of their planning,” Kirby said.

Western concerns about Monday’s rush hour attacks in Ukraine could be a sign of a new pivot in the conflict.

A retired lieutenant. Col Alexander Vindman, former director for European Affairs on the National Security Council, said that by attacking targets designed to hurt Ukrainian morale and energy infrastructure, Putin was sending a message about how he will prosecute the war in the coming months.

It’s possible that modern equipment could increase the number of missiles downed and not kill innocent citizens or hurt Ukrainians.

The Kremlin, reticent so far to escalate the war beyond Ukraine, could also aim to directly disrupt or deter foreign military assistance to Kyiv. Such efforts may include attacks on NATO satellites, jamming them, or blinding them to render them temporarily or permanently inoperable. To inflict domestic costs on Kyiv’s supporters, Russia could also conduct cyberattacks against Europe or the United States, targeting critical infrastructure like energy, transportation and communications systems. The war then would no longer be confined to the borders of Ukraine.

The lesson of the horrible war is that everything Putin has done to ruin a nation he doesn’t believe in has made it stronger.

Olena Gnes, a mother of three who is documenting the war on YouTube, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper live from her basement in Ukraine on Monday that she was angry at the return of fear and violence to the lives of Ukrainians from a new round of Russian “terror.”

She said that this is just another threat to cause panic, scare you guys in other countries, or to show to his own people that he is still a bloody tyrant.

The knee-jerk reaction to these attacks — “strike back at the barbarian Russians” — must be held in check. This is the time for renewed pressure for a cease-fire.

In the age of nuclear weapons, all accepted modes of just war — self-defense, justice and punishment for wrongdoers, recovery of international borders; in essence, all notions of right and wrong — are irrelevant. It really doesn’t matter who was the aggressor, who the aggrieved, who committed crimes against civilians, who was merely acting in self-defense.

In an asymmetrical exchange of nuclear missiles in which hundreds of millions could die, it does not really matter who was right and who was wrong. No historians will survive to tell the story.

President Biden needs to dispatch his diplomats to Russia to give him time to find alternatives. An immediate cease-fire must occur, and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine must be pressured to agree.

The Last Day of World War II: Putin’s Visit to Kiev, the Case for the Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Reconsidering Your Support for Putin

State television reported on the suffering on Monday and also flaunted it. It showed plumes of smoke and carnage in central Kyiv, along with empty store shelves and a long-range forecast promising months of freezing temperatures there.

Many who used to be Putin’s greatest admirers have turned against him because of the Russian President’s invasion of Ukraine.

The daily images of bombed out schools, hospitals, playgrounds and apartment buildings, and the determined, so-far-largely-successful pushback by Ukraine, has prompted many – though not all – former fans to reconsider their admiration.

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the post-fascist Brothers of Italy and now slated to become prime minister, dispensed with her formerly warm words toward Putin and vowed to continue sending weapons to help Ukraine. Likewise, Matteo Salvini, who once called Putin “the best statesman on Earth” and used to sport a shirt with Putin’s face on it, now insists he supports Ukraine.

The source of their reconsideration may be found in a separate Pew poll that revealed favorable opinions of Putin and Russia among far-right members have collapsed since Russia invaded Ukraine. There is less trust in Putin to do good in world affairs now than there was a year ago.

Pro-Russia positions are so poisonous that the RN’s acting president, Jordan Bardella, threatened to sue anyone who suggests there are financial ties between the party and Russia. (Le Pen’s presidential campaign was partly financed by a mysterious multimillion dollar loan from Russia in 2014. Le Pen said French banks refused to give her a loan.)

The leadership of the Alternative for Germany party has tried to tone it down even as they mobilize opposition to Berlin’s policies because they believe that it will cause hardship for Germans, but some in the far right have expressed support for Russia.

A couple of weeks ago, CPAC, the conservative political action group, tweeted a cringeworthy message that framed the conflict along Putin’s preferred lines, calling on Democrats to “end the gift-giving to Ukraine” and focus on the US. The group deleted the post after saying that it didn’t go through proper vetting.

At the far-right America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) in February, days after Russian started bombing Ukraine, AFPAC founder and notorious White nationalist Nick Fuentes bellowed, “Can we get a round of applause for Russia!”

The leaders of the former Soviet republics are letting him down. Only one, the Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, has stood with the Kremlin.

There are a few prominent far-right figures still supporting Putin despite the fact that 70% of Americans want continued support for Ukraine.

Tucker Carlson is a useful voice for Putin propaganda, and clips from his nightly show are a mainstay in Russian state-controlled television. The spectacle caused a host at an even more right-wing network, Newsmax, to lambast him. Eric Bolling referred to Carlson as an “alleged American” for defending “our archenemy Russia and the sociopath Putin…”

The wide bombardment echoed the early days of Russia’s scattershot initial invasion in February, but also underlined that the conflict in Ukraine, which for months appeared to be descending into a slow and painful grind in the Donbas, has erupted once again as winter nears.

Not for the first time, the war is teetering towards an unpredictable new phase. “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.

As winter approaches, the stakes of the war have been raised again. “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 Kyiv’s forces have recaptured some 120 settlements since late September as they advance in the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Kherson regions. On Wednesday, Ukraine said it had liberated more five settlements in its slow but steady push in Kherson.

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 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.

Ukrainians have learned that they are stronger than was expected of them. Have those who have underestimated learned anything from it? Military aid has been enough to survive but not crush the enemy.

According to CNN, the senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies says that the Russians are trying to prevent a collapse in their frontline before the winter sets in.

If the Russians can get the frontline looking like it is, that will be a huge success.

Beyond that, it appears that Russia is massing replacement soldiers and additional units to launch an offensive to take the portions of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in the southeast, that they do not control – while also establishing defensive positions in depth in other areas that they control in the south.

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.

The economy in Ukraine continues to be hurt by war and missile assaults on power infrastructure, including 76 strikes on Friday. As winter bites, millions of Ukrainians are enduring long periods without heat, electricity and water. (However, indicative of the resiliency that Ukrainians have displayed since the start of the war, many say they are prepared to endure such hardship for another two to five years if it means defeating Russia).

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. Ukrainians are urged to reduce energy usage during peak hours and fix damaged equipment because of warnings by the Prime Minister.

Experts think it is unlikely that Russia will form a recurrent pattern of bombardments, while estimating military reserves of either army is a hard job, Western assessments believe Moscow does not have the capacity to keep 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.

The I SW said in its daily update on the conflict that the strikes “wasted some of Russia’s dwindling precision weapons against civilian targets, as opposed to militarily significant targets.”

Exactly how much weaponry and manpower each side has left in reserve will be crucial to determining how the momentum will shift in the coming weeks. Ukraine is urging its Western allies to provide better equipment to repel future attacks after it said it stopped 18 cruise missiles on Tuesday and dozens more on Monday.

“The barrage of missile strikes is going to be an occasional feature reserved for shows of extreme outrage, because the Russians don’t have the stocks of precision munitions to maintain that kind of high-tempo missile assault into the future,” Puri said.

Some help for Putin may be on the way, however. An announcement by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that Belarus and Russia will “deploy a joint regional group of troops” raised fears of deepened military cooperation between the close allies and that Belarusian troops could formally join Russia in its invasion. There have been alleged threats of Ukrainian involvement in recent days, and it could be a sign of things to come.

“The reopening of a northern front would be another new challenge for Ukraine,” Giles said. He said that it would give Russia a new route into the Kharkiv oblast, which has been regained by the Ukrainians.

The United States and other Western nations have been shipping tranches of arms, tanks and ammunition to Ukraine, steadily increasing what they are willing to provide in the hopes of changing the trajectory of the war. It’s not enough for Zelensky, who wants heavier weapons and fighter jets.

Ahead of a NATO defense ministers meeting, the NATO Secretary General said thatUkraine needed more systems to stop missile attacks.

Ukraine “badly needed” modern systems such as the IRIS-T that arrived this week from Germany and the NASAMS expected from the United States , Bronk said.

Putin can’t do what Putin wants: a key challenge for the Russian-Iran relations in the fight against the Iranian-Russian-American war

Petraeus: It could if Putin mobilized all of Russia successfully. As Putin fears how the country might respond to total mobilization, the calls have been partial so far. 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 partnership of convenience is between the two dictatorships, according to an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

There is a deep crisis in both countries. Russia and Iran are trying to cope with growing discontent over a war effort and unpopular draft while Iran is trying to quell street protests that pose the most serious challenge to the government.

“Even if President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy reached some conclusion that maybe we should, to stop the punishment, we should negotiate. I don’t think he can do that anymore because of the conviction of the Ukrainian people.”

Petraeus spoke at an annual conference in Sea Island, Ga., run by The Cipher Brief, which brings together members of the national security community — current and former — to stand back and look at the big picture on global security.

The conference heard from a top Ukrainian official, who said that the war needs to end with a Ukrainian victory on the battlefield.

Paul Kolbe, a former CIA officer who runs the Intelligence Project at Harvard, says that the Russian leader is not looking for a way out of the conflict. In fact, he says it’s the opposite. “Putin’s muscle memory when he runs into an obstacle is to escalate,” said Kolbe. There are still a lot of tricks that he can pull out to try and undermine the image of the West.

This annexation is a huge deal. Putin is effectively betting his presidency on staying in Ukraine, says Dmitri Alperovitch, who runs the think tank Silverado Policy Accelerator.

“That is essentially a metaphorical burning of bridges,” said Alperovitch. “What this means is that this war is likely to continue for many, many months, potentially many years, as long as he’s in power and as long as he has the resources to continue fighting.”

Part of the difficulty of making wartime assessments is that the war has gone through different phases, with one side and then the other having an advantage. The Ukrainians defeated the Russians in the battle for Kyiv, only to see Russia grind forward during the brutal fighting in the Donbas over the summer.

War is Coming: When Russia and the Middle East Reappreared in 2014-2014, and How Ukranian will respond to Moscow

At the Georgia conference, in a ballroom filled with experienced national security types, no one suggested the war was near an end. “Most wars end with some sort of negotiated solution, whether that comes out of stalemate or defeat, but I don’t see any prospects of talks in the near term,” said Paul Kolbe, the former CIA official.

This war began with a Russian invasion in 2014, he noted, and is now as intense as it’s ever been. Greg Myre is an NPR National Security Correspondent. Follow him @gregmyre1.

The mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, was the one who appeared to be taking pains to offer reassurances. Mr. Sobyanin wrote on his Telegram channel that there were no plans to change the normal rhythm of the city’s life.

The governors of the regions of Krasnodar and Kursk said no restrictions would be imposed despite the power that was granted to them.

Many Russians are sure to see a warning message in the martial law that was imposed by Russia in Ukraine, analysts say.

People worry that the borders will be closed and the strong men in the Kremlin will do what they want.

The question is when the blame will begin shifting from the military to Putin himself, particularly since he has seemed ill-prepared to change the leadership at very the top. The last change was the appointment of a new leader for the Russian forces on the Ukraine front, who was once in charge of the Russian bombardment of Syria.

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 side that generates the most capable, well-trained and well-equipped forces by then will make the most significant gains. My bet is on Ukranian in that area.

The War of Independence as a Campaign to End Aid for Ukraine: A Comment on Dean Obeidallah, aka Petraeus

Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. If you are following him, he will be communicating with you via his@Dean Obeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.

The person is Petraeus That is a big factor. Ukrainians sees the ongoing conflict as their War of Independence, and they have responded accordingly. President Zelensky has been positive about Ukrainians being called to service for their country as it fights for its survival.

The GOP Senate candidate in Ohio later flip-flopped, saying that he wanted “the Ukrainians to be successful.” The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the remark made by Vance is causing Ukrainian Americans who are lifelong Republicans to support Tim Ryan in the Senate race.

President Joe Biden criticized McCarthy and other Republicans who want to cut or end aid to the Ukraine, saying they didn’t understand. It’s a lot bigger than Ukraine — it’s Eastern Europe. It’s NATO. It’s real, serious, serious consequential outcomes.”

He knows that he has to sacrifice everything for his political gain, but the fact that he would suggest that America will no longer stand for freedom tells you that he is willing to do that.

Correspondence with Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars that Might Still Happen

A Republican who recently stated that if Republicans win the House next month they will get a lot of power and a lot of flexibility from McCarthy blamed the war with Russia on the Ukranian people.

Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham are two of the stars of Fox News who have been in touch with members of the Republican base to prepare them for an end to US assistance for Ukraine.

Last week, Ingraham ridiculed Vice President Mike Pence for referring to the United States as the “Serenad of Democracy” and suggested that our military is too worn out to help other countries. Jim Banks, who was also on that show, said that we don’t put America first by giving blank checks to fix other countries’ problems.

McCarthy may or may not get it as Biden suggested. There’s one person who absolutely gets it and that is the president of Russia, Mr. Putin. Few people will have greater cause for celebration if the GOP wins back control of the House.

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

He is trying to distract his nation from the view that he is losing badly on the battlefield and failing to reach even scaled back objectives of his invasion.

The European Union Prolonges War Against Russian Imports and Natural Gas Cuts: First Results From a High-Redshift Summit

It requires a host of variables to keep going, including the availability and affordability of energy for the coming winter, as well as the popular will across a broad range of nations with often conflicting priorities.

In the early hours of Friday, European Union powers agreed a plan to control energy prices that have been surging in the wake of sanctions on Russian imports and Russia’s cutting of natural gas supplies.

The Dutch Title Transfer Facility, a benchmark for European gas trading, has an emergency cap, as well as permission for gas companies in the EU to form a monopoly on international gas purchases.

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.

Still, divisions remain, with Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, skeptical of any price caps. Energy ministers must work out details with their German counterparts about how caps would encourage higher consumption, a burden on restricted supplies.

These divisions are all part of Putin’s fondest dream. Manifold forces in Europe could prove central to achieving success from the Kremlin’s viewpoint, which amounts to the continent failing to agree on essentials.

Germany and France are already at loggerheads on many of these issues. In order to make some headway,Macron has scheduled a conference call for Wednesday.

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

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the U.S. Secretary of State and the House Intelligence Caucus to End the Cold War

A new government took 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.

During a gathering of his party loyalists, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi described to them how Putin sent him bottles of alcohol and a sweet letter on his 86th birthday.

During the campaign, Matteo Salvini said that he would not want sanctions against Russia to hurt those who impose them more than those who are hurt.

At the same time, Poland and Hungary, longtime ultra-right-wing soulmates united against liberal policies of the EU that seemed calculated to reduce their influence, have now disagreed over Ukraine. Poland was offended by the pro-Putin sentiment of Hungary’s populist leader Viktor Orban.

Similar forces seem to be at work in Washington where House GOP 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 gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine. 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.

Mia Jacob, caucus chair, sent reporters a clarifying statement hours later after facing criticism. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to renew America’s support.

Thirty Years of Russian War: U.S. and the War Between Europe, the Middle East, NATO, and the West – The Case Against Russia

The pressure on Russia is being increased by the West. The State Department released a report on the effect of sanctions on the Russian military-industrial complex.

Russian production of hypersonic missiles ceased due to lack of semi-conductors, according to the report. Plants that make anti-aircraft systems have shut down and Russia has reverted to Soviet-era defense stocks for replenishment. Thirty years ago, the Soviet era ended.

The US seized the property of a top Russian procurement agent, Yury Orekhov and his agencies that are responsible for procuring US-origin technologies for Russian end- users.

The Justice Department charged people and companies for trying to bring high tech equipment into Russia in violation of sanctions.

Billboards around the city that once read “Ukraine is Russian forever” have reportedly been spray-painted over with the message: “Ukraine was Russia’s until November 11.”

Iran’s enemies and rivals in the Middle East, of NATO members, and of nations interested in restoring the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran are all paying attention to the strengthened relationship between Moscow and Tehran.

Since the Second World War, most countries had come to reject the idea of war between countries, and Yuval Noah Harari argued that if Russia were to win, the door would be open to invasions of one country by another.

At their summit in March last year, NATO leaders agreed to equip, arm and train Ukraine to NATO standards. It wouldn’t be a member of NATO, but the message to Moscow was that in the future it would look and fight like it did in the alliance.

There are repercussions to what happens far from the battlefields. When oil-producing nations, led by Saudi Arabia, decided last month to slash production, the US accused the Saudis of helping Russia fund the war by boosting its oil revenues. (An accusation the Saudis deny).

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently reiterated that “Israel supports and stands with Ukraine, NATO and the West,” but will not move those systems to Ukraine, because, “We have to share our airspace in the North with Russia.”

Russia’s assault on Ukrainian ports and its patrols of Black Sea halted Ukraine’s grain exports just after the war started, causing food prices to skyrocket. The head of the World Food Program warned in May of the world being “marching toward starvation.”

As the war nears its one-year anniversary, however, international support for Ukraine is being tested. The sanctions on Moscow have led to higher oil and gas prices in Europe. The Republicans who are poised to take control of the House of Representatives have said they don’t want to approve huge new aid packages for Ukrainians in a hurry.

Higher prices not only affect family budgets and individual lives. When they come with such powerful momentum, they pack a political punch. Political leaders are on the defensive in a lot of countries because of inflation.

CNN Journalism of Kherson: The Strange Journey of a Breakaway Russian-Inspired Republic and an Invasion of the Ukrain

And it’s not all on the fringes. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader who could become speaker of the House after next week’s US elections, said that the GOP may choose to reduce aid to Ukraine. Progressive Democrats released and withdrew a letter calling for negotiations. Evelyn Farkas, a former Pentagon official during the Obama administration, said they’re all bringing “a big smile to Putin’s face.”

For much of the journey through smaller towns and settlements, our team of CNN journalists was forced to drive through diversions and fields: bridges over canals were blown up, and roads were full of craters and littered with anti-tank mines.

Russian forces abruptly withdrew from the west bank of the Dnipro River in the southern region of Kherson,leaving the regional capital of the same name and surrounding areas to the Ukrainians.

The outskirts of the city, which had been occupied by Russian forces since March 3, were deserted, with no military presence except for a Ukrainian checkpoint around 5 miles outside of the city center, where half a dozen soldiers waved CNN’s crew in.

The city’s residents have no water, no internet connection and little power. A CNN crew entered the city center on Saturday with a happy mood in the air.

Once the scene of large protests against Russian plans to transform the region into a breakaway pro-Russian republic, the streets of Kherson are now filled with jubilant residents wrapped in Ukrainian flags, or with painted faces, singing and shouting.

The military presence is still limited, but huge cheers erupt from crowds on the street every time a truck full of soldiers drives past, with Ukrainian soldiers being offered soup, bread, flowers, hugs and kisses by elated passersby.

An old man and a woman hugged a young soldier while CNN stopped to regroup, and the older man and the woman said “Thank you”

After living under Russian occupation, every person we’ve spoken to has had experiences that have terrified them: earlier today, a teenager told CNN he had been taken and beaten by Russian soldiers who believed he was a spy. Residents told us that they are exhausted and overwhelmed by their newfound freedom.

Everyone wants you to know what they went through, how happy they are right now, and how much they appreciated the countries who helped them.

Everyone we have spoken to is aware that there are tougher days to come: that the Russians across the river could shell them here. It’s not clear whether all Russian troops have left Kherson. There is still uncertainty behind this euphoria.

Ukrainian and Russian forces traded fire across the Dnipro River, which divides them after Russia’s retreat from the southern city of Kherson.

The Dnipro has become the new front line in southern Ukraine, and officials there warned of continued danger from fighting in regions that have already endured months of Russian occupation.

Through the afternoon, artillery fire picked up in a southern district of the city near the destroyed Antonivsky Bridge over the Dnipro, stoking fears that the Russian Army would retaliate for the loss of the city with a bombardment from its new positions on the eastern bank.

There were puffs of smoke when mortar shells hit near the bridge. Near the riverfront, incoming rounds rang out with thunderous, metallic booms. It was not immediately possible to assess what had been hit.

More deaths in Novoraysk, Ukraine, as reported by the Ukrainian military and a surprise visit to Kherson City (Moscow)

The mines are a significant danger. Four people, including an 11-year-old, were killed when a family driving in the village of Novoraysk, outside the city, ran over a mine, Mr. Yanushevich said. Six workers were injured trying to restore service after lines were damaged. And there were at least four more children reportedly injured by mines across the region, Ukrainian officials said in statements.

The deaths underscored the threats still remaining on the ground, even as Mr. Zelensky made a surprise visit to Kherson, a tangible sign of Ukraine’s soaring morale.

“We are, step by step, coming to all of our country,” Mr. Zelensky said in a short appearance in the city’s main square on Monday, as hundreds of jubilant residents celebrated.

According to the Ukrainian military’s southern command, Russian forces fired from across the river on the towns and villages that were captured by Ukrainian forces. Two Russian missiles struck the town of Beryslav, which is just north of a critical dam, the military said. There were no known casualties at this time.

A Kherson City resident using a secure app from a town across the river said that residents were robbed and exchanged items for homemade vodka. “Then they get drunk and even more aggressive. We are so scared here.” She asked that her surname be withheld for security.

“Russians roam around, identify the empty houses and settle there,” Ivan, 45, wrote in a text message. He lives in Skadovsk, which is south of Kherson city, and asked his name not be used out of concern for his safety. “We try to connect with the owners and to arrange for someone local to stay in their place. So that it is not abandoned and Russians don’t take it.”

Two Years After Joe Biden, China and the World – A Momentous Anniversary for the United States, for Democracy, and for the World

It took two years after Joe Biden was elected US President before the leaders of the world’s two most powerful countries could finally speak in person, but when Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping finally met in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday on the sidelines of the G20 summit, the timing could not have been any better for the United States, for democracy and for the world.

The year starts with the forces of democracy. The far right is disorganized in the US and much of the world. And the world’s leading autocracies, China and Russia, are on the back foot.

That is only one reason for the meeting to take place in the first place, because there is a lot more to this than who controls the US House of Representatives and Senate.

As Biden and Xi were meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional, triumphant return to the devastated, now liberated city of Kherson, the one provincial capital that Russian invaders had conquered.

As Putin’s adventure turned to disaster the Ukrainians had to defend their country with unexpected determination and as Biden rallied allies into a push to support them.

According to China’s Foreign Ministry, Wang’s visit will provide an opportunity for China and Russia to continue to develop their strategic partnership and “exchange views” on “international and regional hotspot issues of shared interest” – a catch-all phrase often used to allude to topics including the war in Ukraine.

Tellingly, Putin chose not to attend the G20 summit in Bali, avoiding confrontations with world leaders as he increasingly becomes a pariah on the global stage.

What Has Biden Learned about the First Missile Launch in Poland and How Russia is Preventing a Cold War in the Cold War

To be sure, Biden is not the only leader with a strong hand. Xi has just secured an unprecedented third term as China’s leader, and he can now effectively rule for as long as he wants. He does not have to be concerned about elections, a critical press or an opposition party. He is essentially the absolute ruler of a mighty country for many years to come.

There are many daunting problems that have been faced by Xi. The economy has slowed down so much that China is reluctant to reveal economic data. The vaccine was once used as a tool of global diplomacy. China is imposing very strict restrictions on people as the rest of the world slowly recovers from the H1N1 pandemic.

It is crucial that democracy is shown to work and that unprovoked wars of aggression, such as China and Russia attempting to destroy it, will not succeed because democracy works.

The first missile to have landed in Poland may have been a Ukrainian anti-aircraft rocket that took out an incoming Russian missile, according to Polish and NATO leaders. The missile was not Ukrainian, according to President Zelensky.

Whatever the exact circumstances of the missile, one thing is clear. “Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Wednesday.

That said, a growing number of Russian soldiers have rebelled at what they have been asked to do and refused to fight. The Defense Ministry believes that Russian troops may be prepared to shoot retreating 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.

Vladimir Putin meets the G20 leaders: the fate of the Cold War and the consequences for the European Union and for the United States, especially in the Middle East

I spoke to one of the leading Russian journalists who was in Berlin and he told me that while he hoped this wasn’t the case, he would accept it because he might never be able to return to his homeland.

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. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission told the G20 that they have learnt that dependence is unsustainable and that they want reliable and forward looking connections.

The huge burden it has had on Western countries is proving to be unfulfilled because of Putin’s dream that this would drive more wedges into the alliance. The French and German governments were told that the Future Combat Air System project, which had been delayed for years, was beginning to move forward.

Nonetheless, he said, the strikes, using Iranian drones, had left many in the dark. Mr. Zelensky called the situation in the Odesa region “very difficult,” noting that only the most critical infrastructure there remained operational. Restoration of power to civilians would take days, not hours, he warned.

Mr. Zelensky mentioned that 10 drones had been shot down by Ukraine and that Russian forces used them. It was not immediately possible to verify his tally.

World leaders condemned the assaults on the heat and light plants that Ukrainians rely on for heat and light, and pushedUkraine into a dire cycle of having to have power restored only to have it knocked out again.

The power grid is in a shortage and he urged people to use less power.

It must be understood. It does not mean that there are no problems even if there are no heavy missile strikes. “Almost every day, in different regions, there is shelling, there are missile attacks, drone attacks. Energy facilities are hit almost every day.”

Latest on Ukraineraine a weekly recap and look-ahead at Russias war-dec-12: An American basketball player in the US after 10 months of captivity

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is under increasing pressure to ban the Russian Orthodox Church in his country because of their close ties to Moscow.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosts European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store for a working dinner Monday in Paris.

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.

After months of negotiation, the American basketball player was free on Dec. 8 after 10 months of captivity in Russia. She was released in exchange for the US handing over a Russian convicted of crimes. Griner is back in the U.S. and reunited with her wife. Bout is back in Russia and is reported to have joined an ultranationalist party.

New measures targeting Russian oil revenue took effect Dec. 5. They include a price cap and a European Union embargo on most Russian oil imports and a Russian oil price cap.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2022/12/12/1141827823/latest-on-ukraine-a-weekly-recap-and-look-ahead-at-russias-war-dec-12

History of the 2022 Ukrainian Land War in Melitopol, Ukraine: A State of Ukraine Report from the Ukranian Embassy in Zaporizhzhia

In the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol,Ukraine hit targets, one of which is believed to be a Russian military base. The city in southeastern Ukranian’s Zaporizhzhia region was used as a target by Ukrainian forces, according to officials.

Zelenskyy said that Russian forces turned Bakhmut into burned ruins. Fighting has been fierce there as Russia attempts to advance in the city in the eastern Donbas region.

Here you can read past recaps. 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.

2022 was not just another year that tried patience and frayed nerves, it was historic and deadly. The land war in Europe that was launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin was unprecedented. There were many mass shootings in the United States, like the one at Uvalde, Texas, and it wasn’t the first time. Seemingly, all the people who brought light to our lives were dead.

The Dark Ukrainian Fairy Tale of Denys and the Death of Her Husband, Ieveniia, in Warsaw, Poland

It’s the month of fairy tales, when we peer into the darkness to be reassured of the miracle that will come.

“We used to joke that our life was like a dark fairy tale inclined towards a happy ending. And now it’s over,” says Ievheniia, a displaced Ukrainian woman in Poland who this December is nursing her two-month-old son – and raw grief for the child’s father.

On November 18, Ievheniia’s husband Denys was killed in action while defending Ukraine against Russian aggression. The man died at the site of some of the war’s most intense fighting in the east of the country. Ukrainian forces have been holding the line there for months; soldiers waist-deep in mud amid trenches, bomb craters and charred trees.

pivotal moments in this dark Ukrainian fairy tale take place via video link. This is what love looks like in a time of war, as it shifts to the digital space and disrupted mid-plot.

Mr. Zelensky has created a nightly video that tells Ukrainians how to view the war against Russia and how to justify their hardship in a bid to instill faith in them.

The festive season is well underway in Warsaw, where her temporary home is. The Christmas season is upon us. People don’t want to be reminded that someone somewhere is suffering,” Ievheniia said. They must be aware that this fight is unfolding right next to them.

After driving westwards across the country under Russian bombardment, Ievheniia finally arrived at an enlistment office. She was told to sign the contract the following Monday after being interviewed on a Friday.

On the weekend, she decided to take a pregnancy test, just in case. “With war and evacuation, the ground was slipping under one’s feet,” she said with a laugh. I found out that I was pregnant.

The pregnancy test provided that plot twist: the woman who planned to defend her homeland instead joined the flow of refugees looking for safety in Poland.

The wedding of Ievheniia and Denys in Ukraine: from a fairy tale to a day in the life of a man

The warring Ievheniia and Denys wanted to see their cooperation in the view of the state. The everyday ingenuity of the country at war was at work; now, Ukrainian servicemen are allowed to marry via a video call. “Instead of (by) boring civil servants, we got married remotely by a handsome man in a uniform. I had nothing to complain about,” Ievheniia said.

During the months following, Denys kept his magic alive by ordering flower deliveries from the trenches and a professional photo shoot from the trenches.

Denys was the one who raised the alarm after Ievheniia didn’t pick up the phone. A delay could have resulted in death. A Caesarean section followed. The baby was born two months early and the father was able to meet him.

The martial law currently in effect doesn’t allow Ukrainian men to leave the country. Yet as is appropriate for a fairy tale, Denys got permission, crossed the border, and spent five days with his family.

It was a wonderful time filled with ordinary things. Then he left. It was his birthday on November 17 and we sent him greetings,” Ievheniia remembered. “The next day he was killed.”

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/14/opinions/ukraine-christmas-fairy-tales-death-dovzhyk/index.html

The time to be consoled has come to act, a story of italo Calvino, whose success depends on the strength of the collective effort

Italo Calvino, the celebrated Italian journalist and editor of folktales, among other works, called them “consolatory fables” because it is that a rare fairy tale ends badly. It means that the time to be consoled has not yet arrived. The time has come to act.

And we must not be deluded by the narrative logic of a fairy tale. magic won’t beat the monster because the wily kid won’t. A decisive victory over Russia is what the Ukrainians need military aid for, not just prolonging the fight. The victory of Ukranian depends on our collective effort.

I wondered how I would fight against evil when I was a teenager. Would I be able to turn away and proceed with my daily life?” Ievheniia told me. Today, we have a chance to find out.

Zelensky in Kiev: A triumphant victory of Vladimir Putin in the midst of a fog of war. The story of his last day in office

I watched how Zelensky pulled up to the lysée Palace in a modest car, while Putin traveled in an armored limo. (The host, French President Emmanuel Macron, hugged Putin but chose only to shake hands with Zelensky).

The battle between democracy and autocracy in Ukraine, which Zelensky witnessed firsthand, is seen by generations to be one of the defining conflicts of our time.

“After the full-scale invasion, once he got into a position of being bullied by someone like Vladimir Putin he knew exactly what he needed to do because it was just his gut feeling,” Yevhen Hlibovytsky, former political journalist and founder of the Kyiv-based think tank and consultancy, pro.mova, told me.

This is the leader who when offered a ride out of the US after Russia launched its invasion joked that he did not need a ride.

Zelensky stood up to Donald Trump in the case of the quid pro quo scandal and it’s easy to forget that he once stood up to another bully.

Amid the fog of war, it all seems a long, long way since the heady campaign celebration in a repurposed Kyiv nightclub where a fresh-faced Zelensky thanked his supporters for a landslide victory. Standing on stage among the fluttering confetti, he looked in a state of disbelief at having defeated incumbent veteran politician Petro Poroshenko.

Zelensky was in decline in popularity ratings before the invasion of Russia, which was the culmination of a steep decline from his first days in office.

Many people from his previous professional life are in his bubble. Even in the midst of the war, a press conference held on the platform of a Kyiv metro station in April featured perfect lighting and curated camera angles to emphasize a wartime setting.

His nightly televised addresses bring solace to the people in the midst of air raid sirens and explosions.

In the Light of Zelensky: Fashion, Technology, and the Rise and Fall of the World: a Conversation with Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

“By wearing T-shirts and hoodies, the youthful, egalitarian uniform of Silicon Valley, rather than suits, Zelensky is projecting confidence and competence in a modern way, to a younger, global audience that recognizes it as such,” Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, a fashion historian and author of “Red, White, and Blue on the Runway: The 1968 White House Fashion Show and the Politics of American Style,” told NPR.

She stated that he is more comfortable on camera than Putin is as a digital native. Zelensky is doing a better job of balancing authority with accessibility, which I believe is what both of them want to come across as.

Zelenska has shown that she can be a good international communicator if she shows compassion, style and smarts. She met with King Charles at a refugee assistance center in the Holy Family Cathedral in London. Zelenaska was not included on the cover of TIME and a reference was given to her in the supporting text.

Zelensky said in a recent nightly video address that when the world is truly united, it is the world that determines how events develop.

300 days after the start of the Russia invasion, the administration official said they wanted to do it. An official said that President Zelensky had no idea when to leave his country and that neither the US nor Zelensky would be deterred from making travel decisions.

While air raid sirens could be heard around the city, it was Biden and Zelensky who walked around the St. Michael’s Cathedral.

The final decision was made in an Oval Office meeting on Friday evening, when Biden gave the green light. During Biden’s visit, US officials tried to avoid disaster by notifying Moscow of their plans before Biden was on the ground.

Zelensky’s visit to Ukraine as a test of the US response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the problem of a border wall

Smaller air defense systems can be used by just a few personnel, but the large crews required to operate the missile batteries make them harder to operate. The training for Patriot missile batteries normally takes multiple months, a process the United States will now carry out under the pressure of near-daily aerial attacks from Russia.

The official said US troops would teach the Ukrainians how to use the system. CNN has previously reported the training would occur at a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

Kyiv has repeatedly asked for the US Army’s Patriot – an acronym for Phased Array Tracking Radar for intercept on Target – system, as it is considered one of the most capable long-range air defense systems on the market.

Zelensky compared his nation’s resistance against Russia with Britain’s lonely defiance of the Nazis in the days before the US entered World War II during a video address to the UK Parliament earlier this year, and his arrival in the US capital will sharpen the parallels to the earlier meeting of Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt.

Nancy Pelosi allowed Zelensky to appear one last time before she gave up the speaker’s gavel. She met with Zelensky in the middle of this year.

“Patriots are a defensive weapons system that will help Ukraine defend itself as Russia sends missile after missile and drone after drone to try and destroy Ukrainian infrastructure and kill Ukrainian civilians,” she said. Russia shouldn’t send missiles into Ukranian if they don’t want them shot down.

As NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Clark said that Zelensky’s trip highlights a critical moment when the fate of a war that cannot win without upgraded US support could be decided before Russia can regroup.

Republicans will gain control of the House in the new year, and that will lead to a debate on Capitol Hill over the aid to the Ukranian people. Some pro-Donald Trump members have warned that billions of dollars in US cash sent to Ukraine should be used to build a border wall because of the expected influx of people coming into the US.

Zelensky’s Legacy as a Wartime Remnant: Why the U.S. is Faint in Europe?

In March, for instance, Zelensky evoked Mount Rushmore and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream Speech” during a virtual address to Congress. He also referred to two days of infamy in modern history when Americans directly experienced the fear of aerial bombardment.

After dodging U-boats in the ocean and flying to Washington on a plane from the coast of Virginia, the British leader met the President Franklin Roosevelt on December 22, 1941 for their joint press conference.

After a week of thinking and scheming, the leaders of Germany and Japan were defeated and the foundation of the Western was laid.

He said he was far from his country and his family during his visit to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Ukrainian leader is likely to appreciate the historical parallels. He paraphrased one of Churchill’s most famous wartime speeches in an emotional address to British members of parliament in March.

The first and foremost deliverables are the Patriot missile systems. They are described as the U.S.’s “gold standard” of air defense. NATO preciously guards them, and they require the personnel who operate them – almost 100 in a battalion for each weapon – to be properly trained.

The second are precision-guided munitions for Ukrainian jets. Russia and Ukraine have a lot ofdumb munitions that are fired towards a target. More and more Western standard precision weapons have been given to Ukranian.

In addition to the money directly for Ukraine, the larger year-end spending bill includes an increase in US defense spending that will help American weapons and ammunition stockpiles depleted by support sent to Ukraine.

The remnants of the Trumpist “America First” elements of that party have echoed doubts about how much aid the US should really be sending to the edges of eastern Europe.

It is not very difficult to see how much Washington will spend to defeat Russia in this long and dark conflict.

Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House: When Ukraine Becomes More Resolute: A U.S. Senator Meets Vladimir Putin

In one emotional standing ovation after another, members of the United States Congress gave a standing applause to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It was an extraordinary evening, concluding an extraordinary day during a crucial moment in history.

Imagine being Putin, who just yesterday visited one of his very few allies, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, and seeing the politically polarized United States come together to embrace Zelensky.

He made it clear that money is not charity, and that Congress was about to debate billions more in military and economic support. It is an investment in the security and prosperity of the world.

Zelensky said in a press conference at the White House that they were fighting against tyranny and would win.

He handed over a simple Ukrainian flag signed by troops from the besieged area of Bakhmut to Pelosi, asking lawmakers to think of it and support Ukraine. She handed him an American flag that had been flown over the US Capitol, which he carried out of the chamber.

The speech connected the struggles of the Ukrainian people to the revolution in our own country, made us want to be warm in our homes for Christmas, and made us realize that all the families in Ukraine are on the front lines.

Zelensky gave a historic address that made both Republicans and Democrats understand what is at stake in the fight against Putin and Russian aggression and also with their ally, Iran, as well.

Clinton believes that Putin is thinking about how to use Russian conscripts to fight in the war in Ukraine.

“I hope that they will send more than one,” she added. She said that the US and NATO have been reluctant in the past to give advanced equipment to the Ukrainian military.

Clinton, who previously met Russian President Vladimir Putin as US secretary of state, said the leader was “probably impossible to actually predict,” as the war turns in Ukraine’s favor and his popularity fades at home.

At a news conference, Biden said the world was preparing for the fall of Kyiv at that dark night one year ago. The event itself carried its own symbolism – it did not feature two leaders cowering in a bunker, but went ahead in an ornate room like any other leaders’ press conference in any other capital.

The trip was much more than that. Zelensky would not be invited to Washington and the first time since the war began that they would go outside Ukraine if Biden wasn’t confident that face-to-face was the way to go.

Both men said they see the war entering a new phase. Fears of stalemate are growing as more and more troops from Russia are sent to the frontlines.

Zelensky said the road to ending the war wouldn’t involve making concessions to Russia.

He said that he sees no road to peace that involvesUkraine giving up territory or sovereignty.

Later, in his address to Congress, Zelensky said he’d presented a 10-point peace formula to Biden – though US officials said afterward it was the same plan he offered to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit last month.

For his part, Biden said it was up to Zelensky to “decide how he wants to the war to end,” a long-held view that leaves plenty of questions unanswered.

Zelensky peppered his address to lawmakers with references to American history, from the critical Battle of Saratoga during the American Revolutionary War to the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

He chose to deliver his address in English, that’s what he telegraphed prior to the speech. Even his attire – the now-familiar Army green shirt, cargo pants and boots – seemed designed to remind his audience they were in the presence of a wartime leader.

From Zelensky to the End of the Dark Ages, or Why Do We Live in America Today? A Comment on the Times of Ukraine

Zelensky has shown an ability to appeal to his audience when he has been involved in a conflict.

On Wednesday, he sought to harness Americans’ emotional response to his country’s suffering, evoking dark winter nights as Russia seeks to interrupt Ukraine’s power supply.

We’ll celebrate Christmas in two days. It could be candlelit. Not because it’s more romantic, no, but because there will not be – there will be no electricity,” he said.

But he also seemed aware that many Americans – including some Republicans in Congress – have wondered aloud why billions of US dollars are needed for a conflict thousands of miles away. He wanted to make the cause bigger than his homeland.

Zelensky asked for more patriotism and Biden laughed at him, but that was a window into the complicated relationship.

That hasn’t always sat well with Biden or his team. But as he has with a host of other foreign leaders, Biden appeared intent Wednesday on translating physical proximity into a better understanding of his counterpart.

“It is all about looking someone in the eye. I mean it sincerely. I don’t think sitting down with a friend or foe and looking at them in the eye is a substitute for facing them face to face.

Zelensky, the Hero of Ukraine, and the Cost of American Intervention in a Wartime Spikes Nuclear Power: CNN’s Meanwhile in America

CNN has a daily email about US politics for global readers, and the story was adapted from the December 22 edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

The comic actor-turned-wartime hero effectively put the fate of millions of Ukrainians in the hands of American lawmakers, taxpayers and families at a time when there is growing skepticism among the incoming Republican House majority about the cost of US involvement.

Zelensky gave Pelosi and Harris a Ukrainian flag he got from the battle of Bakhmut, during his speech in the House chamber.

“Our heroes … asked me to bring this flag to you, to the US Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and senators whose decisions can save millions of people,” he said.

This is more large than just Ukraine. It is about freedom and democracy at large in Europe, and it is also about freedom and democracy at large in the rest of the world.

But Zelensky’s inspirational rhetoric and heroic bearing couldn’t disguise the uncertainties and risks of a war in which the US is effectively now fighting a proxy battle with its nuclear superpower rival, Russia.

Zelensky made a big Thank you for tens of billions of dollars in aid and weapons to Americans. He argued that they couldn’t abandon this hero without also suppressing something of their own patriotism.

There will be some House Republicans who want to stop aid, and the welcome they received from the Ukrainian leader suggested they would be shamed if they stopped aid.

Zelensky, the Elephant in the Room: Why the U.S. does not cut off Russian Energy to Europeans, but does it Prototype?

Zelensky showed that the West is united by the fact that it didn’t cut off Russian energy to Europeans and that Biden means it when he said Wednesday.

Zelensky repeatedly pointed out that despite the largesse of US artillery support and the imminent arrival of high-tech weapons like a Patriot missile battery that Biden unveiled Wednesday, his nation was still outmanned and outgunned.

The president has limited the potency of the weapons he sends into the battle, balancing the need to defend a European democracy with the desire not to trigger a disastrous direct clash with Russia and to avoid crossing often invisible red lines whose locations are known only to Putin.

The Chancellor of Germany refused to be pushed into sending tanks alone and demanded that US President Joe Biden join them in the endeavor, which proved to be a blow to the relationship with Russia.

However, given partisan fury that will erupt in a divided Washington next year, there is no guarantee that America’s lawmakers will even be able to fund their own government – let alone one fighting for its survival thousands of miles away.

Some Republican members who have expressed reservations about aid to Ukraine did not applaud when Zelensky was introduced.

President Volodymyr Zelensky went to shore up his supply line after his trip to the bloody front lines in Ukraine, and he traveled to the ornate US House floor.

Zelensky, the leader of the Russian Federation, stood on the dais and claimed that he and his government had defeated Russia in the battle for the minds of the world.

The speech was a clear plea to the Republicans in the House to stay with Ukraine, despite the elephant in the room.

The $45 billion in Ukraine assistance that Congress approved at the end of last year is somewhat mitigated by the fact that Biden administration officials are worried about the possibility of decreasing aid.

The administration will work with Congress to provide an additional $907 million of Foreign Military Financing under the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, which is scheduled to come into effect in 2022.

The Battle of the Bulge: Zelensky’s commitment to the United States and Russia in the light of the February 24 presidential visit to Ukraine

He returned to US military history Wednesday, referring to the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, when US troops were surrounded in the snow after gaining a foothold in Europe on D-Day.

Zelensky said that Ukrainian soldiers are fighting back against Putin’s forces just like they fought back against Hitler’s forces.

He is already established in the American people as being in this together, but at the same time he pointed out that they will do the fighting for us and we will finish the job. That’s what Churchill said,” Kearns Goodwin told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Wednesday evening.

A state of the nation address, originally scheduled for April, was repeatedly delayed and won’t happen until next year. Putin’s annual “direct line” — a media event in which Putin fields questions from ordinary Russians — was canceled outright.

Now, with the war nearing its one-year mark on February 24, Biden is hoping to demonstrate to the world his commitment to Ukraine, even as it remains unclear how much longer US and western resolve can last.

The new money pledged to Ukraine in a larger bill is a reason why it was substantive.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who wants to be House speaker and needs votes from Ukraine-skeptical Republicans to get there next month, did meet with Zelensky and the other three top congressional leaders.

The only Ukrainian-born member of Congress, Indiana GOP Rep. Victoria Spartz, has expressed skepticism about some of the aid to Ukraine and concerns about corruption in Zelensky’s administration.

Kyiv and its Western allies are “set for a long confrontation with Russia” following President Volodymyr Zelensky’s momentous visit to Washington, Moscow said as the war in Ukraine approaches 10 months.

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.

No matter how much military aid the West gives to the Ukrainian government, Maria Zakharova said, they will not achieve anything.

The tasks set in the framework of the special military operation are going to be fulfilled, Zakharova said.

He said there had been no calls for peace or signs of willingness to “listen to Russia’s concerns” during Zelenskyy’s visit, which he said proves that the U.S. is fighting a proxy war with Russia “to the last Ukrainian,” Reuters reports.

The Kremlin has also been selling that line to the Russian public, who is largely buying it, says Sergey Radchenko, a Russian history professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Zelenskyy and Ukraine want a “just peace,” and all the US has been doing is helping the country protect itself from Russian aggression.

Moscow warned last week that this would be another US move that could lead to a Russian attack. is this thought to provoke a Russian attack?

Putin stated that sanctions had no effects on the country’s economy, and that the war in Ukraine was a struggle against the West. He also stated that he was suspending Russia from the New START treaty.

After attending a State Council meeting on youth policy, Putin told reporters that the purpose of his visit was not to spin the military conflict but to end it. “We have been and will continue to strive for this.”

Nikita Yuferev, a municipal lawmaker from St. Petersburg who fled Russia due to his antiwar stance, on Thursday said he had asked Russian authorities to prosecute Putin for “spreading fake information about the army.”

Yuferev said there was no decree to end the special military operation. “Several thousand people have already been condemned for such words about the war.”

A US official said to CNN that Putin’s remark was probably a slip of the tongue. However, officials will be watching closely to see what figures inside the Kremlin say about it in the coming days.

“We never refused, it was the Ukrainian leadership that refused itself to conduct negotiations … sooner or later any party to the conflict will sit down and negotiate and the sooner those opposing us realize it, the better,” he said.

The Kremlin and the War in the Cold Cold War: Putin’s Implications for the Security Council, the Pentagon, and the United Nations

The Kremlin would make a substantial investment in the military according to Putin and Shoigu. The initiatives include increasing the size of the armed forces, accelerating weapons programs and deploying a new generation of hypersonic missiles to prepare Russia for what Putin called “inevitable clashes” with its adversaries.

The Institute for the Study of War said in a daily assessment that Putin focused on talks with the West instead of with Ukraine, and accused the Ukrainian government of being a Western pawn.

As has often been the case throughout the conflict, the vaguely conciliatory tone from Putin was quickly contradicted by a heavy-handed message from one of his key officials.

Sergey Lavrov, Putin’s foreign minister, said Monday that Ukraine must fulfill Russia’s demands for the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukrainian-controlled territories, repeating Moscow’s well-worn and false accusation of Nazism against Ukraine, which it has used in an attempt to justify its invasion.

Alexander Rodnyansky, an economic adviser to President Zelensky, told CNN Tuesday that Putin’s comments were likely an effort to buy time in the conflict.

“The blitzkrieg has gone terribly wrong for them and they know that, so they need more time to regroup and rebuild their troops,” Rodnyansky said, adding that it was also Kremlin’s strategy to dissuade the world from sending more military aid to Ukraine. “We must not fall into that trap.”

Any hypothetical momentum towards a deal could result in a reduction of Western military aid to Kyiv. And it would present a possible face-saving exit route for Putin, whose reputation would be severely diminished at home if he returned from a costly war without meaningful territorial gains.

Zelensky and his officials said throughout that they would not try to achieve a truce, only to keep saying that negotiations are possible.

And in an opinion article by CNN’s Peter Bergen, retired US General and former CIA Chief David Petraeus said the conflict would end in a “negotiated resolution” when Putin realizes the war is unsustainable on the battlefield and on the home front.

The UN would be the most suitable broker according to the Foreign Minister. “The United Nations could be the best venue for holding this summit, because this is not about making a favor to a certain country,” he said. Everyone is being brought on board.

The steps include a path tonuclear safety, food security, and a final peace treaty with Moscow. He said the G20 leaders should use all their power to make Russia abandon nuclear threats and implement a price cap on energy imports from Moscow.

Zelensky, Syria, and the Crime against Human Rights: A Tale of Two Conflicts in a One-Dimensional World

A decisive swing on the battlefield in the New Year could force a change in the calculus, but both sides are dug into what will many observers believe could become a long and grinding conflict.

Zelensky’s first overseas trip in ten months shows his intentions to keep his allies focused on the conflict.

“It was horrible to live under Putin and it was very far from the idea of democracy, but you still had some established institutions which you would almost take for granted that they would exist no matter what, and all of a sudden, everything collapsed,” he said, pointing to the near complete eradication of any remaining independent media, civil society and human rights groups.

One woman who still lives in Moscow and whom CNN will call Olga, described February 24 as the point of no return. “Life turned into a nightmare from which it is impossible to wake up, round-the-clock reading of the news, protests at which there were more security forces than civilians,” she told CNN via an encrypted messaging service, describing the shame and hopelessness she feels. “The aggressor is our country. On our behalf, on my behalf, this terrible massacre is being waged,” she said.

Maria doesn’t want the full name of her employer to be printed because of her personal security concerns. The NGO for which Maria works is deemed a foreign agent under Russia’s recently expanded law on foreign agents, which means she is at risk of being persecuted.

A long prison sentence has been used to punish high-profile opposition voices who question the conduct or strategy of the Russian army.

A court in Moscow used the law earlier this month when it sentenced Kremlin critic Ilya Yashin to more than eight years in prison for speaking up about the alleged killing of civilians by Russian troops in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, outside Kyiv. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the mass killings, while reiterating baseless claims that the images of civilians bodies were fake.

Technical workarounds such as VPNs and Telegram still offer access to Russians seeking independent sources of information. Older Russians like state media propaganda because it spreads conspiracy theories on TV talk shows.

The US Border Patrol had 36,271 interactions with Russian citizens. The number includes people who were deported by the border force, compared to the previous two fiscal years, in which 13,920 and 5,486 were recorded.

OK Russians, a non-profit helping Russian citizens fleeing persecution, said its surveys suggest those who are leaving are on average younger and more educated than the general Russian public.

If you take the liberal intelligentsia of Moscow, I would suggest that at most 70% of them are gone. It’s journalists, it’s people from universities, sometimes schools, artists, people who have clubs and [foundations] in Moscow that got closed down,” Soldatov said.

“If you are losing the educated middle-class portion of the population, then it matters for your economic prospects, but it also matters for the potential political reconstitution of the country,” said Kristine Berzina, a Russia expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She pointed to the exodus of liberal, educated Iranians following the country’s 1979 revolution as an example of what can happen when large numbers from such demographics leave the country.

All of Maria’s friends and son have left, but she is determined to stay in Russia. Her elderly mother can’t – and doesn’t want to – travel abroad, and Maria is not willing to leave her. “If I knew for sure that the borders would not be closed and I could come at any time if my mother needed my help, it would probably be easier for me to leave. But knowing that something else could happen at any moment scares me,” she told CNN.

She believes she has an important job but is struggling to see hope in the future. Like Olga, she described her own life as a perpetual cycle of panic, horror, shame and self-doubt.

“You’re constantly torn apart: Are you to blame? Did you do what you were supposed to? What should you do if you can’t do anything else? She spoke. There are no possibilities. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but I was aware of what was going to happen. Now nobody understands anything. People don’t even understand what will happen to them tomorrow.”

Soldatov said he had begun to question his own identity. “The things we held dear, like the memory of the Second World War, for instance, became completely compromised,” he said, referring to Putin’s baseless claim that Russian forces are “denazifying” Ukraine.

The Russian army helped to win the war against Germany, but now it doesn’t feel right because this message is used by Putin. You start questioning the history,” he said, adding that the favorable reaction by some parts of the Russian society to the invasion prompted him to research pre-war rhetoric in Germany.

Maria, a historian by training, has spent years taking part in anti-government protests, describing herself as a liberal deeply opposed to Putin, a former KGB agent. I knew that the country should not be led by someone who was from the KGB. It is too deeply rooted with horrors, deaths and all that,” she said.

Berzina said that the expectation of some in the West – that “once people start feeling as though their leaders are doing wrong, that there is an immediate wave of protests on the streets and call for government change that actually has an effect” – does not reflect the reality of life in Russia.

“Almost all opposition leaders and opinion leaders are now either in prison or abroad. People have a huge potential for political action, but there is no leader and no power base,” she said, adding that civilians will not come out against the armed police, the National Guard, and other security forces.

The public display of autocracy’s fatal flaws has reduced the appeal of the group in the past year. You don’t have to tell leaders they’re wrong, but they will make mistakes. The more powerful and ruthless the ruler, the higher the likelihood that no one dares challenge his wisdom, even if he leads his nation toward a cliff.

Defence Priorities director Rajan Menon explains how Russia’s cyber attacks have affected civilian life in the capital during the recent Ukrainian trip to the capital

Rajan Menon, the director of the Defense Priorities think tank, who recently returned from a trip to the Ukrainian capital, says that if you mess with the human body, all sorts of systems are out of whack. “It’s not only an inconvenience but an enormous economic cost. It’s an effort to create pain for the civilian population, to show that the government can’t protect them adequately.”

Menon notes, however, that every one of his comments could just as easily apply to Russia’s earlier waves of cyberattacks on the country’s internet—such as the NotPetya malware released by Russia’s GRU hackers, which five years earlier destroyed the digital networks of hundreds of government agencies, banks, airports, hospitals, and even its radioactivity monitoring facility in Chernobyl. He says the goal is the same, despite the differences in the technicalities. “Demoralizing and punishing civilians.”

Russia knocked out power in several areas on Thursday in pursuit of its goal of the country’s electrical infrastructure. Engineering crews were racing to restore services as the New Year’s holiday approaches this weekend.

When air raid sirens and an explosion woke her up, she and her son hid in the basement of their building. They were not surprised and didn’t let that affect their spirits.

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.

The Crime against Human Rights in Ukraine during the First World War I: Russia’s Repressions in the Light of the Kharkiv Crisis

The damaged home had at least three people injured, two of them being pulled from it on Thursday. The capital’s homes, an industrial facility and a playground were damaged during attacks on the city.

Two people were killed in an attack in the northeastern region of eastern Ukraine. Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, said four rockets had hit the city — likely S300s — and that critical infrastructure was the intended target.

At the time, Putin insisted his forces were embarking on a “special military operation” — a term suggesting a limited campaign that would be over in a matter of weeks.

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.

Even Russia’s most revered human rights group, 2022’s Nobel Prize co-recipient Memorial, was forced to stop its activities over alleged violations of the foreign agents law.

The war inUkraine has spurred the state to vastly expand Russia’s already restrictive anti-LGBT laws.

For now, repressions remain targeted. The new laws are not always enforced. The measures are intended to crush dissent should the moment arise.

New “fake news” laws that criminalized the fact that the government wasn’t telling the whole story forced leading independent media outlets to shut down or relocate abroad.

Restrictions apply 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.

The End of the Cold Cold War: Inflation and the Rise of the Russo-Inspired Economy in the Early Years of the Second World War

In the early days of the war, many perceived government opponents left for fear of persecution.

Some countries that have absorbed the Russian exodus expect their economies to grow, even as Russians remain a sensitive issue to former Soviet republics.

Helped by Russian price controls, the ruble regained value. New names and Russian ownership brought about the rebirth of several brands, including McDonald’s. By year’s end, the government reported the economy had declined by 2.5%, far less than most economists predicted.

Ultimately, President Putin is betting that when it comes to sanctions, Europe will blink first — pulling back on its support to Ukraine as Europeans grow angry over soaring energy costs at home. The five months ban on oil exports to countries who abide by the price cap is a move that will make the pain worse in Europe.

Observers also note that Russia’s military has been adapting. While Putin never got the victory parade in Kyiv his generals were planning for, he has appointed a new battlefield commander, signaling another change in strategy.

The long war, with no immediate Russian victory, suggests Russia underestimated the willingness of Ukrainians to resist.

The number of Russian losses is officially under 6,000 men, but it’s still taboo 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 criticized Russia’s actions out of concern for their own sovereignty, an affront that would have been unthinkable in Soviet times. India and China have eagerly purchased discounted Russian oil, but have stopped short of full-throated support for Russia’s military campaign.

The 25 Years of Russia: The Story of the Most Viewed, Read, Watched and listened to During the Uvalde School Shooting

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.

For more than 40 years on television and more than 25 years on digital platforms, CNN has been the news source of choice for the world. On average, more than 165 million of you came to CNN Digital from around the globe every month in 2022, according to Comscore.

The tragic school shooting in Uvalde was one of the stories that made our top 10 most read, watched or listened to.

Early in the conflict, I wrote an analysis explaining the limits of what the US and its allies would and would not do in Ukraine. Those limits have been contentious from the start and are only growing more so today as Russia accuses the West of going too far.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade and its impact on women’s lives and US politics were a recurring top story, as were the numerous mass shootings and natural disasters.

New Year’s Resolution: Volodymyr Zelensky’s Voice in Ukraine’s Most Valuable Post-Oligarchic World

The rules that were in place were simply thrown out. China did not stock up on certain drugs during the time it was there. Hundreds of millions have been infected, according to reports citing an internal estimate from China’s top health officials, and various models predict more than a million deaths.

Entertainment news brought millions of you to CNN. Our top entertainment story was the tragic death of Stephen “tWitch” Boss, the amiable DJ for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” There were bright moments too: like the Good Samaritans that made a difference in the lives of strangers.

For those playing along at home, every piece on our Top 100 Stories list this year received more than 3 million visits, according to our internal data.

Thank you for being with us during all of this. We will be here for you in a few years time, for every breaking news story, as well as for every piece of joy and triumph.

KYIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivered a rousing New Year’s Eve address on Saturday night, recalling a year that he said truly “began on Feb. 24” with fear over Russia’s invasion but ended with his country hopeful for victory.

Zelenskyy stood with his chief of staff and Ukraine’s prime minister, next to a baroque building that all Ukrainians would recognize, on the second day of the war. Recording on his iPhone, Zelenskyy sent a defiant message.

He said this year has struck our hearts according to a translated transcript. We cried out all the tears. All the prayers have been yelled. 311 days. We have something to say about every minute.”

The Rise of the Cold Cold Cold War in the Middle East: The Case of the Button? The Battle of Kiev and Ukraine’s Unification with the West

By March, my initial shock and fear of the war turned into a desire to act through sports. Athletes could fight against Russian propaganda in the best way. We just had to tell the truth about the war and Ukrainians – how strong, kind and brave we are. How have we come together to defend our country?

Mr. Zelensky said that the world has rallied around Ukraine from the main squares in foreign cities to the top of the search results.

And finally, to those who felt nuclear saber-rattling was an oxymoron in 2022 – that you could not casually threaten people with nukes as the destruction they brought was complete, for everyone on the planet.

Still, as 2022 closes, Europe is left dealing with a set of known unknowns, unimaginable as recently as in January. A year ago, the small neighbor excelled mostly in IT and agriculture, but now it has invaded the military which once was considered the world third most formidable.

Russia has also met a West that, far from being divided and reticent, was instead happy to send some of its munitions to its eastern border. Western officials might be taken aback by the fact that Russia’s red lines are continually changing as Moscow knows how limited its options are. It wasn’t supposed to happen. So, what does Europe do and prepare for, now that it has?

The West has been unified in unexpected ways. Despite being split over Iraq, fractured over Syria, and partially unwilling to spend the 2% of GDP on security the United States long demanded of NATO members, Europe and the US have been speaking from the same script on Ukraine. At times, Washington has seemed warier and at others, it has been more authoritarian. The shift is not towards disparity. That is a huge surprise.

It has lost what it had gained in Kharkiv 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.

How can Moscow be sure that The Button will work if it’s not working, because the supply chains for diesel fuel for tanks 40 miles from its border don’t function? There is no greater danger for a nuclear power than to reveal its strategic missiles and retaliatory capability do not function.

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. Had “red lines” thinking been in vogue, America might well have accepted an inferior compromise that weakened its security and credibility.

What do autocrats think about the world? How do we live in the 21st century? — The case of China, Russia, and Iran

Notice that it was an open question. Many thought that autocracy would be a better system than the other way around. How many of you believe in it today?

Do some people think that Russia, China or Iran are better model than an open society with all its challenges? How many believe the US would be better off with a more autocratic president?

democracy fought back with determination and conviction. Autocrats went on the defensive. Even populism started to lose steam. At the moment, many of the positive trends – forged with great effort and through enormous human suffering – look promising.

After the democracy gains, leaders need to show they can deal with the economic challenges of the coming months, especially since the poor showing for election deniers in the US midterm elections. All the while, they will face the continuing efforts of ambitious autocrats such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to regain the upper hand.

The autocracy brothers wanted the world to think their system was superior, a message that would preemptively quiet any doubts at home. For 16 consecutive years, the non-partisan democracy monitor Freedom House said democracy was losing ground. Authoritarian leaders and illiberal forces were on the rise; only about 20% of the world’s population lived in what it calls “Free countries”, the organization’s research showed.

In 2022, self-assured “geniuses” like Musk revealed their own flaws while the populations that were fed up with tyranny demanded change.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/06/opinions/democracy-china-russia-2023-ghitis/index.html

What will the world do about the “woman, life, freedom” activists? A case study in the wake of the invasion and the “Russian Revolution”

The invasion strengthened NATO in a way that nothing has done before. Even Sweden and Finland – countries that had long cherished their neutrality – wanted to join.

The activists of the “woman, life, freedom” group were not expected to continue resisting the regime and its brutality. How far will they go? How far will the regime go to snuff them out? What will the rest of the world do?

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/06/opinions/democracy-china-russia-2023-ghitis/index.html

The End of Trump’s Liberation Campaign, and a Failure of Brexit in the First Three Years of the US-Brazil Referendum

A new campaign was started by Former President Donald Trump. The lead balloon was called a “damp squib” by the British. He’s becoming an increasingly isolated, rather pathetic figure after many of his top choices failed in the midterm elections and election deniers fared badly. Even his calls for Republicans to unite behind Kevin McCarthy as the new House Speaker seemed to do little to quell the rebellion this week. And while the struggle over the speakership may have seemed dysfunctional, it was democracy, in all its messy wrangling, on display. Legal troubles seem endless for Trump.

Jair Bolsonaro, who was Trump’s doppleganger in Brazil, lost his reelection bid. Like Trump, he refused to admit defeat or attend the inauguration of the man who defeated him, President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. Instead, a grim Bolsonaro decamped to Florida.

Boris Johnson lost the premiership in the UK and was replaced by a centrist who was non-populist. Back when Johnson was leading his country out of the European Union, populists across Europe wanted their own versions of Brexit. We don’t hear that anymore. French President Emmanuel Macron defeated his populist opponent, Marine Le Pen who, like other European populists, had to run from her record of closeness to Putin.

The Crimes of Novice Soldiers: Is the Ukraine Using Cell Phones? The Russian Military is Embedded in a War

If the Russian account is accurate, it was the cell phones that the novice troops were using in violation of regulations that allowed Ukrainian forces to target them most accurately. Ukraine, however, has not indicated how the attack was executed. The implications are wider and deeper now that Russia is involved in a war.

President Putin called for a truce during the Orthodox Christmas holiday after the deadliest known attack on Russian servicemen. The move was rightly dismissed by Ukraine and the US as a cynical attempt to seek breathing space amid a very bad start to the year for Russian forces.

Russian officials said that four rockets from the Ukrainian side struck the school where the forces were housed. (Another two HIMARS rockets were shot down by Russian air defenses).

Chris Dougherty, a senior fellow for the Defense Program and co-head of the Gaming Lab at the Center for New American Security in Washington, has told me that Russia’s failure to break up or move large arms depots is largely a function of the reality that their forces cannot communicate adequately.

It’s a view shared by other experts. James Lewis, the director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the CSIS, told me in an e-mail that bad security communications are a standard practice in the Russian Army.

The Russian military has a history of unsafe storage of gunpowder, and this incident highlights how unprofessional practices contribute to Russia’s high casualty rate.

The troops killed in Makiivka seem to have been recent conscripts, part of a larger picture of Russian soldiers being shipped to the front lines with little training and deeply sub-standard equipment and weapons.

Indeed, a number of the most recent arrivals to the war are inmates from Russian prisons, freed and transferred immediately to the Ukrainian front. One can only imagine how appealing the use of cell phones would be to prisoners accustomed to years of isolation with little or no contact with the outside world.

Semyon Pegov, who blogs under the alias WarGonzo and was personally awarded the Order of Courage by President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin two weeks ago, attacked the Ministry of Defense for its “blatant attempt to smear blame” in suggesting it was the troops’ own use of cell phones that led to the precision of the attack.

The ministry of defense could be so sure about where the soldiers were in a school building that they could not have decided if they were in a school building or not.

A month earlier, the defense ministry underwent a shakeup when Col. Gen. Mikhail Y. Mizintsev, known to Western officials as the “butcher of Mariupol,” was named deputy defense minister for overseeing logistics, replacing four-star Gen. Dmitri V. Bulgakov, who had held the post since 2008. The location of the arms depot, adjacent to the Makiivka recruits, would likely have been on Mizintsev’s watch.

Defense minister Sergei Shoigu told his forces in a celebratory video: “Our victory, like the New Year, is inevitable.”

Just this week, the Biden administration announced the US was considering dispatching Bradley armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron also announced he would be sending light tanks, though Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was urging the dispatch of heavier battle tanks. All of that is putting the pressure on the German Chancellor to add its powerful Leopard 2 tanks to the mix.

The Obama administration on Friday announced it would be cutting military aid to Ukraine by the largest amount since 2010, but there are concerns that Republicans in the Congress could stop future assistance if there is an outbreak of chaos.

U.S. Secretary of State Mickelsson (Ryanok) on Friday: “It’s an incredible Christmas present for Ukraine”

Several Republican members who switched their votes to support McCarthy on Friday said they are encouraged by a framework of an agreement, but provided no specifics about the deal and said talks are ongoing.

That number was even higher than President Joe Biden requested – a reflection of Democrats’ concern that additional funding wouldn’t be as forthcoming in a GOP-led House. In some ways, that number was an insurance policy against Republican resistance and the view inside the White House was that that figure would sustain US support for several months.

Rules changes in the budgetary process could make it harder for congress to pass new aid in September.

One diplomat told CNN they believe the impasse “definitely” signals trouble for Ukraine aid moving forward, as many of those who have fought McCarthy’s speakership have in the past spoken out against additional assistance for Kyiv.

“This is a harbinger for a protracted legislative paralysis,” the diplomat said, adding that “the Freedom Caucus – which is not particularly pro-Ukrainian – has just demonstrated its clout.”

McCarthy would make maneuvers to get the role and others were watching closely to see how he would do it.

Another diplomat told CNN they’re personally concerned about “the policy concessions McCarthy has to make, and if they are going to affect US role in the world.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that it was an amazing Christmas present for his country. And lawmakers in Ukraine told CNN they are not concerned that the future of assistance is at risk, noting the strong past bipartisan and public support for aiding their country.

Russia reasoned that if Washington blocked Nord Stream 2, which it ultimately did, then it would show that European power no longer flowed through Berlin, but actually via the White House.

The United States didn’t want the new, high-capacity subsea supply to supplant old overland lines that transited Ukraine, providing vital revenue to the increasingly Westward-leaning leadership in Kyiv.

Russian President Vladimir Scholz Celebrates the First Day of World War II: The Recovery of the Czech Republic’s Stochastic Leadership Regime

Europe has been slow to respond to deep fissures in US politics and the uncertainty that another Trumpian-style presidency could cause. Decades of a reasonably unshakable reliance, if not complete trust, in the US, has been replaced by stubborn European pragmatism – and Germany leads the way.

Europe was guided by the moral compass of the former Chancellor. On Wednesday, Scholz flashed a rare moment of steely leadership as he won thunderous applause in Germany’s Bundestag, and he found unexpected metal in his ponderous, often stop/go/wait traffic-light governing coalition.

The Russian government can be helped by the resilience of some parts of the Russian economy. The war has led to a higher than anticipated deficit for the country, as well as an increase in defense spending over the previous year, but the International Monetary Fund projects a small return to GDP growth for Russia.

The applause at each step of his carefully crafted speech was louder than it was in his words. In short, Scholz got it right for Germany, bringing with him a population typically averse to war and projecting their own power, and deeply divided over how much they should aid Ukraine in killing Russians and potentially angering the Kremlin.

How much he knows of Putin’s popularity is not known but his actions now, sending tanks may help ease Putin’s iron grip on power.

Russia’s ambassador to Germany said Berlin’s move to send tanks was “extremely dangerous” and accused Scholz of refusing “to acknowledge its [Germany’s] historic accountability to our people for the horrific crimes of Nazism.” The White House and Vice President Biden were accused of being intent on the “strategic defeat” of Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president and deputy chairman of its national security council, has said Russia would never allow itself to be defeated and would use nuclear weapons if threatened.

What the U.S. is saying about the Ukrainian War, and what it could tell us about the Russian and Russian Wars, as seen by CNN

The mixed messaging has some Muscovites CNN spoke with after the announcements by Biden and Scholz on tanks confused. Some said Russia would win regardless, and lumped the US and Germany together as the losers, but a significant proportion were worried about the war, dismayed at the heavy death toll and frustrated that Putin ignored their concerns.

Longer debates about the next military moves for Ukraine could possibly signal to Zelensky that weapons supplies will be on a leash from the Germans, and that less is being done by the US.

This shift in the power dynamic may not change the way the war is fought but could impact the contours of a final deal and shape a lasting peace when it comes.

The reception Biden’s message is receiving in Congress has changed as a result of domestic politics and the drawn-out nature of the conflict in Ukraine.

A few members of Congress wore blue and yellow ribbons on their lapels this year. The House chamber was awash in the colors of the Ukrainian flag a year ago, as lawmakers gave multiple standing applauds for Biden’s message on the war.

This year, Biden spent less than two minutes discussing the war. Some members stood when he asked whether Americans would stand for the defense of democracy.

“I’m going to say to the Russians and corrupt leaders of this regime: no more,” Biden said a year ago.

“Ambassador, America is united in its support for your country,” Biden told Oksana Markarova, who was a special guest for both speeches.

A survey done last month shows that about a quarter of Americans think the United States is giving too much aid to Ukraine, up from a year ago. Most of the shift has been done by Republicans.

Republican strategist Ryan Williams said this sentiment has given pause to some Republicans from conservative districts who had supported the war, but are now worried about wider public support among their constituencies.

It’s having an effect on the base. Williams said that it might be a primary issue for Republicans if that continues to grow. The key is to make sure that the issue is not a litmus test for Republicans, that it will not endanger incumbents if they have differing views, and that the opponent is not conservatives who are against abortion.

Is it really the first truly open-source war? Investigating the case of the Ukrainian war against Zelensky and the Ziklevsky satellites

The international team of investigators said there was strong evidence that Putin gave the go-ahead to supply weaponry to the rebels.

Bergen: Is this the first truly 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.

Petraeus was one of those people. Putin has yet to get a failing grade. Let’s recall that the first and most important task of a strategic leader is to “get the big ideas right” – that is, to get the overall strategy and fundamental decisions right. Putin failed abysmally in that task, resulting in a war that made him and his country a pariah and caused over 1,200 western companies to leave Russia.

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).

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.

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.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/14/opinions/petraeus-how-ukraine-war-ends-bergen-ctpr/index.html

How many of us will be deployed in 2020, and what we need to do to make sure that Russia is not going to succeed in war-time?

And there would incomparably greater numbers of vastly more capable unmanned systems (some remotely piloted, others operating according to algorithms) in every domain – not just in the air, but also at sea, sub-sea, on the ground, in outer space, and in cyberspace, and operating in swarms, not just individually!

I recall an adage from the Cold War that said “if it can be seen, it can be hit if it can be killed.” The capabilities we needed to really operate that adage were not available 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.

Thanks to Putin, the description of NATO as being in need of a new leader in late 2019 was a bit premature.

Petraeus said all of the above. 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 is a country with enormous military capacity as well as enormous energy, mineral and agricultural blessings. It has a population of roughly 141 million, more than double that of Germany and Turkey, each with around 80 million.

How Russian Foreign Forces Will End Their War? A Reappraisal of the ‘Numbers’ of the Ukraini Revolution

The leader of it is a dictator who embraces numerous grievances and extreme revanchist views that seriously undermine his decision-making.

Stalin was said to think thatQuantity has a quality all of 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.

The Ukrainians have demonstrated great skill in adapting various technologies and commercial applications to enable intelligence gathering, targeting and other military tasks.

However, having sat around the Situation Room table in the West Wing of the White House, I know that it is far easier to second-guess from the outside than it is to make tough calls in office. I wish to see us provide additional capabilities sooner than later, for example, advanced drones, fighter aircraft, and additional air defense and counter-drone capabilities.

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). They do not currently have any more MiGs to offer, and they also have more pilots than aircraft.

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. I think the Administration has done a very good job in this situation, and their success has important ramifications around the world.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/14/opinions/petraeus-how-ukraine-war-ends-bergen-ctpr/index.html

On the role of mercenaries in the Wagner-Ginzburg war: a possible invasion of Taiwan for the Chinese?

Bergen: The quasi-private Wagner Group is the force that Putin sends into the meat grinder of the toughest battles. Any thoughts on using mercenaries, many of whom are convicts, 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 tactics or practices that foster the development of well-trained, disciplined, capable and cohesive units that have faith in their leaders and soldiers on their left and right.

Bergen: What are the lessons of Ukraine for the Chinese if they were to stage an invasion of Taiwan, which would not be over a neighboring land border but over a 100-mile body of water? Does the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea navy, reshape how the Chinese might think about this question?

The target of the operation will have a population that is willing to fight for its survival and will be supported by major powers, which include sanctions and export controls.

Petraeus was mentioned. I believe it is. This is the first war in which smartphones and social media have been so widely available and also so widely employed. Through so-called “open sources”, an extraordinary amount of information is available.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/14/opinions/petraeus-how-ukraine-war-ends-bergen-ctpr/index.html

The War in Ukraine and the War of the Russians: U.S.–Torus, NATO–Majoran & NATO

There does not seem to be a particularly innovative new plan because of the limitations of the professional capabilities of the Russian forces as well as their inability to generate a combined arms effect.

Bergen: In 2003, at the beginning of the Iraq War, you famously asked a rhetorical question: “Tell me how this ends?” What will end the war in Ukraine?

Unlike Biden’s appearance in Warsaw, where Putin’s forces appeared to be retreating, the war now appears poised to stretch at least another year. There are currently no serious efforts being made to end the fighting.

When Ukrainians reach the limits of their ability to survive missiles and drones, a Marshall-like plan can be developed by the US and G7 that should lead to NATO membership or a US-led alliance.

Ahead of the anniversary of the Russians invading, the US and Western leaders are preparing for a show of strength and unity in order to establish once and for all that the NATO alliance is still in the conflict for the long haul.

The trip comes ahead of Biden’s planned two-day visit to Poland. The White House said that the president is going to meet the president of Poland on Tuesday.

Do Russians Really Want to Leave the Cold War on the UKrine? An Expert on Putin and the State of the State in the U.S.

In the US House for instance, some members of the new Republican majority are skittish. Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz last week demanded an end to aid to Ukraine and for the US to demand all combatants “reach a peace agreement immediately.” The House and the Senate both still have bipartisan majority for saving Ukraine. Biden is not sure he can guarantee aid packages for Ukraine for the rest of his life. 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 despite the lack of diplomatic framework for ceasefire talks, Putin is not going to leave the war.

Fiona Hill, a leading expert on Russia and Putin, who worked in Trump’s White House, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday that there were few signs Putin’s determination is waning.

The prospect of China leaning on Putin for an end to the war was remote even before the lurch in US-China relations caused by the flight of a Chinese spy balloon across the US this month.

Sherman said at the event that the US was concerned about being locked in simultaneous showdowns with each power, though he admitted that the US was concerned about increasing ties between China and Russia.

On February 24, 2022, I was supposed to be in Kyiv. But a few days before that, my husband broke his shoulder and we had to stay in Moscow. At 9:00 a.m. that day he had surgery.

The next day, my phone was full of missed calls and messages. A red headline in all caps on the Kyiv Independent website read: “PUTIN DECLARES WAR ON UKRAINE.”

The war has killed tens of thousands of people in a year and displaced millions more. It has unleashed unfathomable atrocities, decimated cities, driven a global food and energy crisis and tested the resolve of western alliances.

The Russian invasion of Zaporizhhia in February 2022. A confession of the horrors that Russia has stolen from me and millions of Ukrainians

February 23, 2022, Zaporizhzhia. I went to bed thinking that I would celebrate my husband’s birthday the next day. Our life was getting better. My husband was running his own business. Our daughter made friends at school. We were lucky to have a support service for our son and a special needs nursery for him. I had time to work. I felt happy.

We are trying to find a place to live. The truth is we are very sad. While physically we are in Prague, our hearts have remained in Ukraine.

My husband got a job thanks to the opportunities for Ukrainians provided by the Czech Republic. I found special needs classes for my son. He now attends an adaptation group for Ukrainian children and has a learning support assistant. My daughter goes to a Czech school while studying in her Ukrainian school remotely.

That morning we woke up to learn that the invasion started. The war was denounced in an open letter signed by 12 Russian writers, directors and cultural figures. Soon it was published, and tens of thousands of Russian citizens added their signatures.

We walked out of Russia on the third day. It was a kind of moral obligation, that I felt. I couldn’t remain in the territory of the state that has become fascist.

We moved to Berlin. My husband went to work as a volunteer at the refugee camp next to the main railway station, where thousands of Ukrainians had been arriving every day. I began to write a new book. It starts like this:

“This book is a confession. I’m guilty of not reading the signs sooner. I too am responsible for Russia’s war against Ukraine. As are my contemporaries and our forebears. Regrettably, Russian culture is also to blame for making all these horrors possible.”

Russia has fired missiles towards several Ukrainian cities, including my adopted city of Odesa. We bolt for safety as air raid sirens blare. The landlady gives me a pot of borscht to help me feel normal.

The fights were obvious but there was another fight to fight which was to claim my life back. The life Russia stole from me and millions of Ukrainians.

Time and again since the Russian invasion started, I’m haunted by the darkness in my father’s eyes during the re-telling of chilling dinnertime stories of relatives shipped off to the Soviet gulag, never to return. Stories of millions of Ukrainians who starved to death in Stalin’s manmade famine of 1932-33.

Once it began, Russia’s aggressive war completely upended what little was left of its relationship with the United States – and many other countries. We knew that history did not end when February 24 changed it. This was not just a brutal war on Ukraine, it was a war on Europe.

My passport was used as a novel in stamps a year into the invasion. My life is between London and Ukraine, where I get my lessons in courage.

I expected my classmates from Zaporizhzhia to become drug free, but they’ve volunteered to fight. My hairdresser, who was supposed to be a sweet summer child, fled with her mother, grandmother, five dogs and her mom through the forest after the Russians occupied the town of Bucha.

My capital, which the Kremlin and the West expected to fall in three days, has withstood 12 months of Russia’s terrorist bombings and energy blackouts. Russians have a lot of stars over Kyiv which they have only managed to bring nearer to eternity.

Recent speculation has centered on whether rivals within Russia’s power elite have been trying to take Prigozhin’s place. Some of those considerations were included in a skeptical take by a Russian political analyst on Prigozhin’s rise. In a recent article published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, she noted that Prigozhin has rivalries with Russia’s power ministries and doesn’t have much showing in polls.

It seems that since February 2022 we have experienced several eras. When Putin suddenly received more than 80% approval from the population after being stagnant for a number of months, it was the first time that was euphoric.

He canceled the future when he aborted the past. When your superiors decide everything for you, and you take for granted what you are told by propaganda, it is easier to live this way.

It was impossible to adapt to the catastrophe that my family and I experienced. As an active commentator on the events, I was labeled by the authorities as a “foreign agent,” which increased personal risk and reinforced the impression of living in an Orwellian anti-utopia.

On the evening of February 23, I washed my dog, cleaned the house, and lit candles. I have a cozy, one-bedroom apartment in a northern district of Kyiv. I loved taking care of it. I enjoyed the life I had. All of it – the small routines and the struggles. That night was the last time my life mattered.

I remember talking to my colleagues and trying to get some volunteers together to help strengthen the newsroom. I was calling my parents to buy supplies.

The life I knew was falling apart before I knew it. I no longer cared how I dressed, drank my morning tea, or took a shower. Life itself no longer mattered, only the battle did.

Just a few weeks into the full-scale invasion it was already hard to remember the struggles, sorrows and joyful moments of the pre-war era. I could no longer relate to my feelings about my boyfriend. On February 24, my life was taken from me.

I didn’t bother with my personal ambitions anymore. The only thing that was important was to raise our flag and show we are alive and well in these circumstances.

I couldn’t enjoy my victories on the track. They were only possible because of all the defenders who had died. But I got messages from soldiers on the frontline. They were so happy to follow our achievements, and it was my primary motivation to continue my career.

Life values have changed. I always enjoy seeing or talking to my relatives and friends. And like other Ukrainians, I believe in our victory and that all of us will return to our beloved country. We need the world to help us.

This leads me to the question as to who should be responsible for all of the crimes? Oleksandra Matviichuk, the head of the Center for Civil Liberties, told us. “Because I’m not a historian, I’m a human rights lawyer, and we document human pain in order sooner or later to have all these Russians … brought to justice.”

Foreign Minister: Taiwan, Russia, and Ukraine after the Russian-Russia War-Anniversary (NPR/UKraine/PRC News)

Taiwan is learning from the war in Ukraine and keeping a watch on China, said the country’s Foreign Minister in an interview with NPR.

They have a passion for expansion. They want to continue to expand their sphere of influence. They want to continue to expand their power. And if they are not stopped, then they will continue to march on,” Wu told us.

Natalia thinks that they tried to flee in the first days of the war, but the family car was hit. Her husband was killed, along with her 6-year-old nephew, Maxim. Vova survived the attack but was hospitalized for months with seven bullets in his body.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/18/1157820509/ukraine-russia-war-anniversary

The First Folk Hero of the Second World War: Vladimir Putin’s Visit to Volgograd, Russia, at the Birth of the Great Patriotic War

The audio for this story was produced by Danny Hajek; edited by Barrie Hardymon and Natalie Winston. The production help from Carol Klinger was additional. Hanna Palamarenko and Tanya Ustova provided reporting and translation help.

A country without President Vladimir Putin is what Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny calls the wonderful Russia of the future.

There have been protests and sanctions since February last year. Independent media and human rights groups are not welcome in the United States.

On February 2, Putin paid a visit to the southern Russian city of Volgograd to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory at what was then called Stalingrad, a crucial turning point in what the Russians call the Great Patriotic War.

The new strategy that Russia has set its sights on is ruined by a return to rapid warfare with tanks. “New people may also be needed to hold the front, and this is risky.”

It’s clear that this is risky because of the first earthquake in Russian society. Hundreds of thousands of Russians voted with their feet. Protests erupted in ethnic minority regions such as Dagestan where police faced off against anti-mobilization demonstrators in multiple cities. A surge of videos and public complaints on Russian social media about the lack of equipment and appalling conditions for newly recruited soldiers.

The mercenary group claims to no longer be recruiting prisoners, but they have raised their profile thanks toWagner’s battlefield successes. While the oligarch doesn’t have any official government offices or power, his ability to deliver results has given him a large amount of trust in Putin.

Prigozhin is ready to challenge Putin. she wrote in a recent piece. “While the answer is negative, there is one important ‘but.’ It is difficult to remain balanced and sane after going through bloody meat grinders and losing a significant part of one’s personnel. As long as Putin is relatively strong and able to maintain a balance between groups of influence, Prigozhin is safe. Even if Putin didn’t directly challenge power at first, the smallest easing could still cause Prigozhin to do so. War breeds monsters, whose recklessness and desperation can become a challenge to the state.”

He is the first folk hero in a long time. “He’s a hero for the most ultraconservative – the most, I would say, fascist – part of Russian society, as long as we don’t have any liberal part in Russian society, because most of the leaders of that part of Russian society have left, he’s an obvious rival to President Putin.”

Russians have taken refuge in a form of political apathy. CNN recently spoke to people about how their lives had changed since last year because of the risks of publicly condemning the government, but they didn’t use their names.

She does not have to worry about her son being mobilized since she has no son of her own. But she did say that her 21-year-old daughter has started going out to kvartirnik – informal, word-of-mouth gatherings in private apartments, somewhat reminiscent of the underground performances held in the Soviet era.

After the invasion, Ira felt anxiety in February and March. She had just bought an apartment and was worried that work might dry up and she wouldn’t be able to pay her mortgage.

“It got a lot worse in the spring,” she said. We seem to have gotten used to a new reality. I started to go out with my girlfriends. I ended up buying a lot more wine.

She said that the eateries are full but that the faces don’t look the same. The hipsters – you know what hipsters are? – There are fewer of them.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/19/europe/russia-ukraine-war-anniversary-intl-cmd/index.html

Ukraine War Annihilation: The Problem of Living in a World Without Travel and the Forces of Home. Olya, 51, Says

Olya, a 51-year-old events organizer with two teenage children, said her family had opted for more domestic holidays. Europe is largely closed to direct flights from Russia, and opportunities to travel abroad are more limited.

Even if there is a war, life goes on, Olya said. She said she couldn’t influence the situation. “My friends say, we do what we can, what’s possible. It does not help to get depressed.

“Those who adapted quickly reorganized, they are seeing growth,” he said. “In January we concluded an unusual number of deals, and most of our activity usually picks up in February.”

He said that the cutoff of Western imports had not changed much in everyday life. “If we’re talking parts for a (Mercedes Benz) G-Class, it might be trickier.”

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/19/europe/russia-ukraine-war-anniversary-intl-cmd/index.html

John J. Sullivan, the US Ambassador to Moscow, from January 1919 to October 2022: When Did Russia Stand Up After World War II?

He said that he was not sure about the news coming from state media. And he acknowledged that he could theoretically be called up in another wave of mobilization.

I need to explain. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Chechnya was one of the two autonomous republics of the newly independent Russian Federation that claimed independence. Tatarstan was the other one. But world leaders were by then quite fed up with the discovery that all those union republics that they had for decades regarded simply as administrative units of Russia — Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan and others, still harder to pronounce — appeared to be real things. The West’s shock at this new geography meant that independent Ichkeria had not the slimmest chance of recognition.

Editor’s Note: John J. Sullivan was US Ambassador to Russia from December 2019 to October 2022. He was the US deputy Secretary of State. He is also a professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion on CNN.

The scale of a war between Russia and Europe was not seen since World War II, and I had been telling everyone for weeks that it was going to happen.

I wasn’t as confident in my pre-war assessment. For two years, I was the US ambassador and worked hard to make some progress in the few areas that a dialogue could be had with the Russians.

I say this with a heavy heart, as a person who was an advocate for continued negotiations with the Russian government even as the downward spiral of our relationship accelerated. I left a comfortable perch on Mahogany Row at the State Department as the Deputy Secretary State to serve as the US ambassador in Moscow and take the lead in those negotiations.

Russian interlocutors read from their talking points and would not engage in a real dialogue. Minders from Russia’s security services were at every meeting and phone call. The Russians were going through a diplomatic charade to lay the groundwork for an invasion that Putin had already decided to launch. When was the only question.

The war changed a lot, from where I lived in Moscow to Russia’s standing in the world. I had to move onto the Embassy compound because the pace of teleconferences with Washington, combined with an eight-hour time difference, meant I had to be immediately available at all hours.

Almost 15 million Ukrainians are forced to become refugees or internally displaced by the merciless Russian violence, which has been accompanied by missiles strikes on civilian targets. Russia is aPermanent Member of the UN Security Council, whose mission is to preserve and defend world peace.

This is a menacing global problem that will only get worse—the economic toll alone is staggering—until it is stopped and reversed on terms acceptable to Ukraine that will protect its sovereignty and security.

The Russian government must realize the goals of its Special Military operation cannot and will not be achieved. The Russian government has to negotiate in good faith. And only then will peace return to Europe.

Secretive Airborne Expedition to Rzeszow, Ukraine: A Brief Look at the Security Situations of a Russian Prime Minister in Kiev

Only three officials as well one reporter and one photographer traveled with Biden. A small group of reporters already inside Ukraine joined Biden when he arrived at 8 am local time.

The security concerns of Biden were a factor in his secretive trip to Ukranian. Air Force One departed Joint Base Andrews under cover of darkness at 4:15 a.m. ET on Sunday, and reporters aboard the plane were not allowed to carry their devices with them.

Biden is traveling with a relatively small entourage, including national security adviser Jake Sullivan, deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon and personal aide Annie Tomasini.

Biden has been itching to visit Ukraine for months, after several of his counterparts in Europe had to go on long train journeys to see Zelensky. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as well as former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have all made visits to the country to demonstrate their support.

Last year, on Mother’s Day, the wife of Biden paid a surprise visit to a small city in the far southwestern corner of Ukraine. She met with Zelenska at a former school that was converted into temporary housing for displaced Ukrainians, including 48 children.

Biden was in Rzeszow in March last year, where he visited US troops deployed near the Ukrainian border as well as humanitarian efforts supporting Ukrainian refugees. During that visit 11 months ago, he alluded to what became a long-running desire to extend his journey just a little further into Ukraine.

Joe Biden, the White House Security Adviser, and the First American Visit to Ukraine after the Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Kushushkin-Kazakhstan)

The US has recently begun seeing disturbing trends and there is a chance that Beijing intends to provide lethal military aid to Moscow without being caught.

The officials would not describe in detail what intelligence the US has seen suggesting a recent shift in China’s posture, but said US officials have been concerned enough that they have shared the intelligence with allies and partners at the Munich Security Conference over the last several days.

Wang, who was named Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s top foreign policy adviser last month, is expected to arrive in Moscow this week, in the first visit to the country from a Chinese official in that role since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Biden visit comes as Russian forces are threatening to take control of the eastern region of Ukraine, which was annexed by Russia last September.

Biden’s visit will seek to reassure the region that U.S. support remains strong, while sending a message back home that the U.S. needs to remain united behind Ukraine.

According to polls, a lot of Americans are worried about how much money has gone to the war, and some Republican budget hawks want to curtail the spending.

Around 7 p.m. ET on Saturday night, President Joe Biden was out in Washington on a Valentine’s week date-night, lingering over rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu before returning with his wife to the White House.

He was last seen in public 36 hours later, as air raid sirens sounded to remind people of the risks and reason for visiting Ukraine nears a second year of war.

Yet it was more than symbolism that drove Biden to endure the significant risk of visiting an active war zone without significant US military assets on the ground.

That was due to the change in the weather on the trip. Even as the small circle of White House officials looped in on the planning grew confident it was an achievable undertaking, the realities of sending a president into a war zone where the US had no control over the air space were daunting.

The reporters were not given a notice that Biden was no longer in Washington. The official White House schedule, released Sunday evening, still listed his departure for Poland at 7 p.m. ET on Monday.

The NSC spokesman said in an interview on the Sunday show that there are no plans for the president to enterUkraine on this trip, but that he would use his power to marshal the world.

Joe Biden had to go on an Air Force plane to Kyiv to explore humanitarian crisis and Russian-Israeli border crossings with Zelensky

At that time, Biden was already leaving Joint Base Andrews in a smaller Air Force plane, not the typical plane that is associated with Air Force One.

After arriving in Poland, the flight would stop at a US base in Germany. Biden was focused on planning out his conversations with Zelensky, in order to use his time wisely and discuss the coming months of fighting.

“I’m here in Poland to see firsthand the humanitarian crisis and quite frankly, part of my disappointment is that I can’t see it firsthand like I have in other places,” Biden said then. They wont let me cross the border to check out what’s happening in Ukraine.

It was the culmination of a process that began months earlier, as Biden watched as a parade of his foreign counterparts each made the journey into Ukraine.

A person familiar with the matter said that Biden was presented with a range of possibilities for his trip to Ukraine but decided on the capital city of Kyiv.

“This was a risk that Joe Biden wanted to take,” said White House communications director Kate Bedingfield. He wanted his team to make it happen, no matter how difficult the logistical challenges were.

Jake Sullivan refused to say if Biden had to overrule Secret Service or military officials in order to proceed with the trip.

“He got a full presentation of a very good and very effective operational security plan. He heard that presentation, he was satisfied that the risk was manageable and he ultimately made a determination (to go),” Sullivan said.

State of the Union: The U.S. President’s Visit to Kyiv in Daylight and the Challenge of a Direct War on Ukraine

The president of the United States, in overcoat and shades, strolled through Kyiv in daylight, visiting a historic church as air raid sirens wailed and standing exposed alongside President Volodymyr Zelensky in the city’s vast, open and iconic St. Michael’s Square.

Biden’s words might have lacked the poetry of “Ich bin ein Berliner,” or “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” But Biden’s visit instantly went down in history alongside two defining trips to divided Berlin by Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan that were flashpoints of the Cold War and each of which sent their own image of US resolve to the Kremlin.

“President Biden has claimed the upper hand … and tomorrow Putin will have to reply to what happened today,” Rudik said, referring to a speech in which Putin is expected to rally the Russian people on Tuesday.

Biden has so far declined to agree to the request, which gets to the heart of a dilemma that defines his war strategy: How far to go to help Kyiv win while avoiding a direct clash between the West and Russia.

Texas lawmaker Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, complained that the US should not make the same mistake that it made to send weapons to Ukraine in the past. Asked if the Biden administration was now considering the dispatch of F-16 fighter planes, the Texas Republican replied: “I hope so,” and added, “I think the momentum is building for this to happen.”

This is because they would enhance Ukraine’s capacity to potentially strike at Russian jets and air defense systems inside Russia. The use of NATO aircraft in such operations – even with Ukrainian pilots – could prompt the Kremlin to conclude the alliance has directly intervened in the war, increasing the risk of a disastrous escalation of the conflict Biden has tried to avoid.

A journey of physical and mental endurance felt like a jab at critics who question whether Biden should be contemplating a reelection race at the age of 80.

And like Biden’s State of the Union address earlier this month, his stagecraft infuriated the most extreme wing of the Republican Party, which Biden has said is a danger to US democracy and values. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for instance, quickly slammed Biden for journeying to Ukraine and other GOP figures accused him of caring more for Kyiv’s borders than those in the US.

“This is incredibly insulting. On our Presidents Day, the President of the United States chose to support the government of Ukraine over that of the United States and forced the American people to pay for it. I can not say how much Americans hate Joe Biden.

There may be nothing more presidential than standing for the foundational US values of freedom and democracy and the right of a people to repel tyranny enforced at the point of the gun from a more powerful foreign oppressor whose fight for independence mirrors America’s own.

“Biden in [Kyiv]. Demonstrative humiliation of Russia,” Russian journalist Sergey Mardan wrote in a snarky response on his Telegram channel. “Tales of miraculous hypersonics may be left for children. We are in a war of holy war with the whole West.

A Russian military veteran and former security service officer thinks that Biden could have escaped death if he had visited the frontlines in eastern Ukraine.

“Wouldn’t be surprised if the grandfather (he is not good for anything but simple provocations anyway) is brought to Bakhmut as well… AND NOTHING WILL HAPPEN TO HIM,” Girkin said.

Girkin is among a number of hardline military bloggers – some of whom have hundreds of thousands of followers and provide analysis of the conflict for large swaths of the Russian population – who have repeatedly criticized what they consider a “soft” approach on the battlefield by Putin’s generals.

Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, is known for making belligerent pronouncements in an apparent bid to shore up his nationalist credentials.

The participants of Russia’s “special military operation” won’t be invited to the party for foreign guests or representatives, the Kremlin told reporters Monday.

Also on Wednesday, the U.N. General Assembly holds a special session on Ukraine. The Security Council discusses Nord Stream pipelines at Russia’s request. And Russia’s parliament will hold extraordinary meetings.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened the conference with a speech, which was streamed to attendees. The vice president later told the gathering that Russia had committed “crimes against humanity.”

The NATO Secretary General warned the NATO defense ministers that the Kremlin is preparing for new offensives and attacks on the countries that are part of the alliance.

Volodymyryry Zelenskyy, the President of the People, was a U.S. Senator during the First World War

The Russian government is operating a systematic network of at least 40 child custody centers for thousands of Ukrainian children, a potential war crime, a Yale University team reported.

People had wondered if Zelenskyy would flee. Daria Kaleniuk, who runs the Anti-Corruption Action Center, a public watchdog group, pointed out that Zelenskyy had downplayed the threat of war and seemed unprepared. She says that it was a surprise that he stood his ground.

It’s about an earnest high school history teacher who is against corruption and politics in her country. Zelenskyy’s character becomes a sensation when a student captures a rant on video and posts it on social media.

As a real-life candidate, Zelenskyy was also a sensation, winning in a landslide with 73% of the vote. He named his political party Servant of the People.

He decided to remain in Kyiv in the early days of the war, which led to a change in public opinion. About 90% of the people in the country approved of his performance. In a time of crisis, the character actor understood what the Ukrainian people needed.

Zelenskyy rallied international support. In the first week of the invasion, he addressed the European parliament via video and brought the English speaker to tears.

Speaking to the U.S. Congress in December, this time in English, he quoted another wartime leader, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, drawing huge rounds of applause.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/20/1158150926/volodymyr-zelenskyy-president-ukraine-russia-war

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: President and parliamentary spokesperson in the Kherson region before a war–Russian invasion

I was in the Kherson region less than two weeks before the invasion. He was there to observe drills to defend against Russian sabotage. Zelenskyy gave a news conference, which was defensive and confusing. U.S. officials had warned Russia would launch a massive invasion, but Zelenskyy downplayed it.

In the middle of the street, the president said that there is too much information about a full-scale war.

Chornovol served in Ukraine’s parliament from 2014 to 2019. Later, she joined the military. In the Kherson region she was employed to fire missiles at Russian armor.

Chornovol says that – before the war – the Ukrainian army left the route north of Kyiv open to invasion, even failing to mine bridges to stop a Russian advance.

“What was done was simply criminal,” said Chornovol, who proudly showed me her missile launcher which was camouflaged with Astroturf. There was no preparation for the invasion. Kyiv was not fortified in any way.”

The brigade and half of troops were supposed to be deployed to the area, but they weren’t. Ukrainian officers warned higher-ups the south was vulnerable to a Russian attack.

Parliamentarians are careful not to launch political attacks on their home country because of the war in Ukraine. But Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, a Ukrainian lawmaker with the opposition European Solidarity party, says she and others will be asking tough questions about what happened in the south as soon as — she says — Ukraine defeats Russia.

People here blame the swift loss of the region on the SBU, Ukraine’s intelligence service. The head of the SBU had no security experience when Zelenskyy fired him.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/20/1158150926/volodymyr-zelenskyy-president-ukraine-russia-war

A Good President During a War and a Good Teacher during a Pregnant’s Exile: A Conversation with Alina Fialko-Smal

“He’s a good president during war,” she says. During a non-war period, he isn’t a very good president. His largest weakness is that he trusts people who are his friends and he is not tolerating different opinions.”

Alina Fialko-Smal was an actor there at the time. She says Zelenskyy used to watch her troupe perform and sought advice on becoming a dramatic actor. She discouraged Zelenskyy, who is under 5-foot-6.

Zelenskyy studied law at the institute where his father is remembered as a renowned teacher. Natalya Voloshanyuk, a finance professor, recalls Volodymyr as clever, funny and self-confident.

“She said, ‘You should be proud that you study at this university,’ ” Voloshanyuk recalls, “to which he replied, ‘One day you will be proud that you taught me.’ “

The anarchy of the Soviet Union allowed for the creation of something new. “I think Zelenskyy’s one of one of those people. The good thing is that these people think that impossible is nothing and you can create anything.”

He identifies himself with the people, or they identify themselves with him. And I think this is the most important thing.”

Joe-Biden is coming to the Royal Castle for a long war: A reminder of what America really is, what we can do, when we don’t

Biden returns to the Royal Castle this week to mark a war that has become a point of contention between him and the Russian leader, a Cold War dynamic underscored by Biden’s visit to Ukranian a day earlier.

The White House said ahead of his trip that Biden would speak by phone over the course of the week with other Western leaders, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom and President Emmanuel Macron of France.

“Freedom is priceless. It’s worth fighting for, for as long as it takes. And that’s how long we’re going to be with you, Mr. President – for as long as it takes,” Biden told Zelensky in Kyiv on Monday.

Biden, and any other Western leader, has not been able to say precisely how long that will be, thus making this week more important than it was a year ago.

The war has left a mark on almost every facet of Biden’s presidency, from the millions of dollars in arms shipments to the new Western alliance. It has caused political problems at home and created political convulsions around the world, but it still gave Biden an opening to demonstrate his claims that America is back.

TheUkrainian people’s resilience has prevented a full takeover by the Russian forces. Instead, the war has become what NATO’s chief Jens Stoltenberg described last week as a “grinding war of attrition” without a discernible end.

The Chancellor, who is visiting the White House next month, told CNN he thinks it is wise to be prepared for a long war.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/21/politics/joe-biden-poland-trip/index.html

Observational constraints on the Russian occupation of the Crimea and the role of the United States in the fight for the coming freedom in the Warsaw region

Meanwhile, new concerns about the available supplies of ammunition and weapons have emerged in the past week, a clear indication the West cannot provide unlimited support forever – neither logistically nor politically – as evidenced by polls showing support for the war effort waning.

There’s a concern about the staying power of the US behind this administration in Poland and Ukranian. This war would look entirely different without the support of the US,” said Michal Baranowski, the managing director in Warsaw of the German Marshall Fund.

“The fact is that we are fighting with time, right?” Baranowski said. “I mean, it’s really whether time is on the side of Russia, who is losing but has a lot of resources to deplete us in the West. That’s what makes me pause. I hope we have the staying power.”

In an indication of the massive number of refugees Poland has absorbed since the start of the war, his remarks will be translated into both Polish and Ukrainian.

John Kirby, a strategic communications officer at the National Security Council, said the president would be telling people all around the world.

The risky trip on Monday to an active war zone was not just a powerful symbol of American support, it was a shot in the arm to a population that has endured Russia’s devastating attacks on civilian apartment blocks, hospitals, schools and the power stations that provide heat and electricity.

Recall that in the early days of the invasion, Ukraine said it found Russian forces had brought along their dress uniforms apparently expecting a victory parade.

Biden’s visit to Ukraine brings back a cheery smile and renewed support for the U.S. military and humanitarian mission in Ukraine

Biden is 80 and walks with a stiff gait. He has no shortage of strength and courage, which was demonstrated by the sound of air raid sirens when Biden was there.

A joyous Zelensky said Biden’s visit “brings us closer to victory,” adding it will “have repercussions on the battlefield in liberating our territories.”

Biden promised continuing support from the US, which is what most Americans want though backing has weakened somewhat. GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN that bipartisan support for Ukraine is “still very strong.”

Poland has provided $3.8 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to NATO. Kirby said that the Biden will thank Poland for their hosting of U.S. forces.

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