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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Putin in Tough Spot as Ukrainian Counter-offensive Measures Advance Rapidly

Putin and his loyalists are now attempting to control the narrative of the crisis

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UKRAINE: As Russian President Vladimir Putin boldly declared the illegal annexation of four industrial Ukrainian hubs, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson, his rival enemy was slowly gaining ground in those occupied regions to liberate them.

The Russian leader appeared at the Red Square last week for a grand ceremony where he formally incorporated these four chunks of provinces into Russia. He boomed into a microphone, saying, “The truth is on our side, and the truth is strength.”Victory will be ours.”

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The Kremlin continued to legitimise the “sham” referendums conducted in these four regions while hundreds of thousands of Russian men have been fleeing Russia after the declaration of Putin’s mandatory military call-up.

Things have not been smooth on the battlefield either. Consequently, Putin and his loyalists are now attempting to control the narrative of the crisis by reframing what they once claimed was the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine and the protection of Russian speakers as an existential fight against the entire “collective” West. Apparently, such is the truth, and none of it is on Russia’s side.

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Meanwhile, several political analysts and experts have speculated that the degrading nature of Putin’s “special military operation” is taking a toll on the leader, who has his head in the clouds and has convinced himself of an inevitable victory even as his soldiers continue to flee his cause.

He’s in a blind zone. It seems he’s not really seeing what’s happening,” the editor of Riddle Russia, Anton Barbashin, argues of Russia’s president.

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Like many analysts, Barbashin believes that Putin has been greatly thrown-off by the overwhelming Western support for Ukraine, as well as Kyiv’s own fierce resistance to occupation.

The 70-year-old leader has seemingly become trapped in his own system—his own autocratic style is hindering his rationality and access to sound intelligence. “You can’t question his ideas,” explains Tatyana Stanovaya, the head of the R.Politik analysis firm.

“Everyone who works with Mr. Putin knows his picture of the world and of Ukraine; they know his expectations. They can’t give him information that contradicts his vision. That’s just how it works. “

The President’s latest address, beneath the lavish, gilded Kremlin chandeliers, re-instated his vision of a new world order, which sounded idealistic at best.

It involves a mighty Russia, a cowed Western world that has been forced to learn respect, and Kyiv, subjugated once again to Moscow. To achieve peace, Russia must wage war.

Despite his battlefield losses and a grim picture of possible defeat staring him in the face, the leader refuses to back down from his delusions and is in no mood to withdraw his battle stance.

“A lot of major calculations the Kremlin was working with did not pan out, and it doesn’t seem like Putin has a Plan B, other than keeping on pushing people to the front line and hoping that sheer numbers will prevent Ukraine from advancing further,” Anton Barbashin believes.

However, this idea of a new world order is not a collective dream shared by the general Russian populace, especially those middle-class working men, who have been forced to leave their jobs and their families to enrol in the war that Putin started.

While many Russians could somehow digest the fact that the Ukrainian conflict was necessary as a “special military operation”, people began to lose hope after Putin showed the true nature of his decreasing army and declared mandatory military conscription. “Pushing people to the front” is a significant shift in itself.

Barbashin says, In the first months, the people dying were mostly from the peripheries and smaller centres. But mobilisation will eventually change that, as the coffins will come back to Moscow and St. Petersburg.”

In other news, nearly 30% of Ukraine’s successes were secured in the big counter-offensive measures in the east due to British and German missile systems, a Ukrainian officer said while speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ukraine has asked the US to supply more air defence systems in preparation for attacks on its infrastructure in winter, reports Politico.

European countries too will send more military equipment to Ukraine to battle Russia, including more French Caesar-style howitzers, French President Emmanuel Macron said.

US President Joe Biden’s bombarding comments about the recent breakthroughs in the conflict suggest that Russia could now steer towards a different direction in the war to regain the upper hand and resort to the “possible use of tactical nuclear weapons, biological or chemical weapons.” This decision is heavily impacted by the ground reality of the Red Army, which is “significantly behind.”

For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we are facing a direct threat from the use of nuclear weapons if the situation really continues to develop along the path on which it is developing.

“The use of nuclear weapons by the Russian Federation could lead to Armageddon,” Biden added.

Also Read: Ukraine Acquires Territory That Putin Had Annexed to Russia

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