Putin’s War Russia-Ukraine April 2022 – June 2022

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The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols
The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are at the core of international humanitarian law, the body of international law that regulates the conduct of armed conflict and seeks to limit its effects. They specifically protect people who are not taking part in the hostilities (civilians, health workers and aid workers) and those who are no longer participating in the hostilities, such as wounded, sick and shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners of war.

28 June
Assessing the Geopolitical Blast Radius of Putin’s War
(Policy) Veteran diplomat and foreign policy sage Jeremy Kinsman checks in on the geopolitical state of play.
As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov admitted in April, Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine wasn’t just about Ukraine, it was about ‘putting an end to’ America’s role as the democratic superpower. While the War-of-the-World Orders hot war Putin was aiming for did not materialize, his goal of disrupting the liberal world order has been triangulated to other dystopian narratives, including a manufactured global famine unleashed by his blockade of Ukraine’s ports.

22 June
(CBC The Current) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reaches four-month mark, with no end in sight;
We talk to Oleksandra Matviichuk, who has been documenting evidence of war crimes; and discuss what might come next with Serhii Plokhy, a professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University; and David Marples, a distinguished university professor of Russian and East European history at the University of Alberta. Full Transcript

20 June
Ukrainian missiles hit Black Sea gas platforms, say Russian officials
Reports of strikes come as Russian forces said to be gathering for final assault on Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk
The three offshore platforms, the Boyko towers, had previously been seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv believes they are used for military reconnaissance and to help assert control of a larger portion of the Black Sea.
An attack on the platforms would represent a further attempt by Ukraine to reach into the Black Sea, coming three days after it said it had destroyed a Russian tugboat near Snake Island using western Harpoon missiles.
Elsewhere on land, Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, said that Russia was gathering its forces to launch a final assault on the Donbas city of Sievierodonetsk and neighbouring Lysychansk by the end of the week.
Malyar told Ukrainian television that “decisive battles in the Sievierodonetsk region” were going on and that the Russians were hoping to “reach the borders of Luhansk region approximately by 26 June” – implying the capture of both cities.

19 June
Hundreds of civilians missing, taken or simply gone: The untold toll of the Ukraine war
(WaPo) For nearly four months, the world has watched in horror as Russian forces flattened Ukrainian cities, with images of slaughtered civilians in Bucha and Mariupol attracting international outrage and prompting Western powers to increase their military aid. But all the while a less visible phenomenon was taking place in homes, at checkpoints, during street protests: Russian soldiers were detaining and abducting hundreds — perhaps thousands — of civilians.
Russia Has a Plan for Ukraine. It Looks Like Chechnya.
Putin’s template is simple: flatten cities, install satraps, rule by fear.
By Neil Hauer
(The Atlantic) The Russian military machine, which has overwhelming superiority in artillery, is grinding forward slowly but surely, conquering an additional kilometer or two a day at immense cost to the defenders. Exhausted Ukrainian soldiers speak of weeks of fighting under relentless bombardment, heavily outgunned by an opposing force that has recovered from its initial blunders and is now fighting the sort of war it was designed for. Under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, Moscow is pushing on eastern Ukraine a fate much like the one it imposed on another unruly former vassal at the start of Putin’s reign: Chechnya.

17 June
Russia frees captive medic who filmed Mariupol’s horror
(AP) — A celebrated Ukrainian medic whose footage was smuggled out of the besieged city of Mariupol by an Associated Press team was freed by Russian forces on Friday, three months after she was taken captive on the streets of the city.
Yuliia Paievska is known in Ukraine as Taira, … Using a body camera, she recorded 256 gigabytes of her team’s efforts over two weeks to save the wounded, including both Russian and Ukrainian soldiers.
She transferred the clips to an Associated Press team, the last international journalists in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, one of whom fled with it embedded in a tampon on March 15. Taira and a colleague were taken prisoner by Russian forces on March 16, the same day a Russian airstrike hit a theater in the city center, killing around 600 people, according to an Associated Press investigation.

14 June
The battle for Ukraine’s Donbas will be remembered for its brutality, Zelensky says.
Ukraine’s fight to defend the Donbas region against Russia will “go down in military history as one of the most brutal battles in Europe and for Europe,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Monday.
Mr. Zelensky reiterated his conviction that Ukraine would emerge victorious, naming a string of Russian-occupied regions around the country, including the cities of Kherson, Melitopol and Mariupol, and pledging that Ukrainian forces would arrive to liberate them.
Control of Luhansk, and the wider Donbas region, could hinge on the battle for Sievierodonetsk.
The battle for Sievierodonetsk, which could fall to the Russians within days, is about far more than one city. Its capture would give Russia a key victory in its drive to seize the entire Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Donbas, which comprises the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk, is a prize for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. After failing to swiftly topple Ukraine’s government in Kyiv, Mr. Putin refocused his military campaign on the Donbas, which makes up about 9 percent of Ukraine’s land, but holds significance for its industry, location and potential as a bargaining chip for Moscow.
The Donbas borders Russia and runs from outside Mariupol in the south to the northern border near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Home to coal mines and steel, an estimated 6.2 million people lived in the region before Russia’s invasion, according to the most recent census data.

As Battle Grows Desperate, U.S. Says It Won’t Push Ukraine Into Talks
Western officials prepare to meet in Brussels this week amid growing European concerns about the costs and risks of the war in Ukraine.
(NYT) With the prospect of Sievierodonetsk falling to Russia and increasingly urgent pleas by Ukraine to the West for longer-range weapons, the situation was also raising concerns among some Western officials about whether President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has a viable strategy to win the war.
France, Italy and Germany are anxious about a long war or one that could become frozen in a stalemate. They are also nervous about the possible damage to their own economies as countries in Europe grapple with rising inflation and gas prices.

11 June
Momentum in Ukraine Is Shifting in Russia’s Favor
Marc Santora and Roger Cohen
(NYT) A war in Ukraine that began with a Russian debacle as its forces tried and failed to take Kyiv has seemingly begun to turn, with Russia now picking off regional targets, Ukraine lacking the weaponry it needs and Western support for the war effort fraying in the face of rising gas prices and galloping inflation.
On the 108th day of President Vladimir V. Putin’s unprovoked war, driven by his conviction that Ukraine is territory unjustly taken from the Russian Empire, Russia appeared no closer to victory. But its forces did appear to be making slow, methodical and bloody progress toward control of eastern Ukraine..

7 June
The next front in the Ukraine war — Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports
This blockade must be broken quickly. But doing so will demand far more direct military involvement than anything the West has admitted doing so far.
By Eric Morse, former Canadian diplomat specializing in Soviet/Russian relations, who now is at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto.
(Ottawa Citizen) It is very likely that if the blockade is to be broken short of capitulating to Russian terms, there will have to be NATO naval units involved. Canada is a NATO power with a Navy and the federal government needs to reckon accordingly. There has been talk of getting African states to do it, which is being met with deserved skepticism since they’re buying contraband grain from the Russians, having no other choice. In these things, if you want it to happen, you do it yourself. And the fig leaf of non-belligerence, already looking pretty tattered, vanishes.

6 June
What If Ukraine Wins?
Victory in the War Would Not End the Conflict With Russia
By
(Foreign Affairs) In recent days, many Western observers have begun to worry that the tide is turning in Russia’s favor. Massive artillery fire is yielding incremental Russian gains in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, and Russia is bringing in new forces. Ukrainian troops are drained and exhausted. Russia is trying to create a fait accompli and to make reality conform to its imperial ambitions through “passportization”—the quick provision of Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens in Russian-occupied areas—and the forced introduction of Russian administrative structures in Ukrainian territory. The Kremlin likely intends to occupy eastern and southern Ukraine indefinitely and to eventually move on Odessa, a major port city in southern Ukraine and a hub of commerce that connects Ukraine to the outside world.
… No matter the scope of a Ukrainian victory, all such scenarios entail a nebulous “day after.” Russia will not acquiesce to its defeat nor to a noncoercive negotiated outcome. Any Ukrainian victory will only spur more Russian intransigence in its wake. As soon as it can rebuild its military capacity, Russia will use a narrative of humiliation to stir domestic support for a renewed effort to control Ukraine. Even if he loses the war, Putin will not let go of Ukraine. Nor will he simply sit by as it becomes fully integrated into the West. A Ukrainian victory, then, would require not a relaxation of Western support for Ukraine but an even stronger commitment.
… The combination of military setbacks and punishing sanctions might eventually induce Moscow to moderate its goals, and a meaningful cease-fire might become achievable. But a more far-reaching negotiated settlement is probably out of the question for Putin. Russia is already treating the locations it has occupied not as bargaining chips for an eventual settlement but as Russian territory. And according to the Russian intelligence experts Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, Kremlin hardliners want more war—not less.
Ukraine and the West should thus assume that Russia will not accept any defeat.
See also What If the War in Ukraine Doesn’t End? – The Global Consequences of a Long Conflict (20 April)

3-4 June
Russia hits Kyiv with missiles; Putin warns West on arms
(AP) — Russia took aim Sunday at Western military supplies for Ukraine, launching airstrikes on Kyiv that it claimed destroyed tanks donated from abroad, as Vladimir Putin warned that any Western deliveries of longer-range rocket systems would prompt Moscow to hit “objects that we haven’t yet struck.”
The Russian leader’s cryptic threat of military escalation did not specify what the new targets might be. It came days after the United States announced plans to deliver $700 million of security assistance for Ukraine that includes four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tank systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.
Military analysts say Russia hopes to overrun Ukraine’s embattled eastern industrial Donbas region before the arrival of any U.S. weapons that might turn the tide. The Pentagon said last week that it will take at least three weeks to get the U.S. weapons onto the battlefield.

Ukraine war hits 100-day mark
(The World) During that time, the planet witnessed death, destruction and displacement on a massive scale — neighborhoods reduced to rubble, with hospitals, schools and railways damaged. It’s very difficult to accurately count the human toll. President Volodymyr Zelenskyiy said on Thursday that “at least tens of thousands” of Ukrainians have died. As for the toll on Russian troops, that’s even harder to estimate.
Russia may be in Ukraine to stay after 100 days of war
(AP) When Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine in late February, the Russian president vowed his forces would not occupy the country. But as the invasion reached its 100th day Friday, Moscow seemed increasingly unwilling to relinquish the territory it has taken in the war.
The ruble is now an official currency in the southern Kherson region, alongside the Ukrainian hryvnia. Residents there and in Russia-controlled parts of the Zaporizhzhia region are being offered expedited Russian passports. The Kremlin-installed administrations in both regions have talked about plans to become part of Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this week that enemy forces now control almost 20% of the country’s territory. Before the war, Russia controlled 7%, including the Crimea Peninsula and parts of the Donbas.
Initially, at least, annexing more land from Ukraine was not believed to be the main goal of the invasion. It was widely thought that the Kremlin intended to install a pro-Moscow government in Kyiv that would prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and pulling further away from Russia’s influence.
But now, Moscow is unlikely to let go of its military gains, according to political analysts.

1 June
Kissinger is dead wrong about the Russian war against Ukraine
Alexander J. Motyl
(Facts and Arts) Kissinger’s inability to recognize that Russia could be as transitory as scores of other great powers bespeaks an inability to break out of the Metternichean worldview and admit that change is central to the world order. Worse, it bespeaks an embarrassingly bad misreading of Russia’s stability. By embarking on the catastrophic war with Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has accelerated and unleashed social, political, and economic forces within Russia that threaten to end his rule, bring about regime change, result in systemic chaos, and lead to Russia’s disintegration or collapse. Kissinger should know that the revolutions of 1848 in Europe were the prelude to Germany’s emergence as a great power and to the Habsburg Empire’s decline as a great power.
Kissinger’s views of Ukraine are no less outdated. To state, as he did in Davos, that “the ideal outcome would be if Ukraine could become situated as a neutral kind of state, as a bridge between Russia and Europe,” is to demonstrate that he has no idea of what has transpired in Ukraine since Putin’s armies attacked on February 24.
Kissinger says Ukraine should cede territory to Russia to end war
(WaPo) Former U.S. secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger said Monday that Ukraine should cede territory to Russia to help end the invasion, suggesting a position that a vast majority of Ukrainians are against as the war enters its fourth month
Speaking at a conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Kissinger urged the United States and the West to not seek an embarrassing defeat for Russia in Ukraine, warning it could worsen Europe’s long-term stability.
After saying that Western countries should remember Russia’s importance to Europe and not get swept up “in the mood of the moment,” Kissinger also pushed for the West to force Ukraine into accepting negotiations with a “status quo ante.” (24 May)

1 June
Western Support for Ukraine Has Peaked
(The Atlantic) The war has now dragged on for months, though, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. As the British strategist Lawrence Freedman observed, you could detect the outlines of what Russia might settle for in Putin’s May 9 speech to commemorate the Allied victory in World War II: protection of Crimea; nothing that could be characterized as Ukrainian aggression in the Donbas region; and a guarantee that Ukraine will not host nuclear weapons on its soil.
But Ukraine is unlikely, in the extreme, to settle for any territorial concessions. The Ukrainians must also sense, recent losses notwithstanding, that they can still win this war.
So Ukraine continues to press its Western allies for more support. What it wants now, however, is the kind of support that it would need to not only resist Russian advances but also win back territory and duel with Russia’s powerful artillery. The Biden administration is more reluctant to provide this aid, and it is hard to see other countries getting much further out ahead than the Americans.

31 May
Think the West can coax an end to the war in Ukraine? You’re wrong.
By David Von Drehle
(WaPo) Who can end the senseless war in Ukraine? It is a very short list.
[Only] Russian President Vladimir Putin. He alone started the war. He alone positioned as many as 190,000 troops to invade his neighbor in February.
Nations around the world pleaded with him not to unleash the largest unprovoked assault in Europe since World War II. He ignored the advice and invaded anyway. Weirdly, though, leaders and thinkers of various political stripes seem to think that the United States and its allies have the power to bring the carnage to an end.

27 May
Russia is guilty of inciting genocide in Ukraine, expert report concludes
Report by 30 internationally recognised scholars finds ‘reasonable grounds to conclude’ Moscow in breach of Geneva Convention
The report, compiled by two thinktanks, the New Lines Institute in Washington and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights in Montreal, found that there were “reasonable grounds to conclude” that Russia is already in breach of two articles of the 1948 Genocide Convention, by publicly inciting genocide, and by the forcible transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia, which the report notes is itself a genocidal act under article II of the convention
CNN Exclusive: Leading experts accuse Russia of inciting genocide in Ukraine and intending to ‘destroy’ Ukrainian people

Ukraine’s grain stuck in silos as Russia continues to enforce naval blockade
(CBC Radio The World) Since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine Moscow’s navy has blockaded Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Its impact is having ripple effects all around the world. Right now, more than 20 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukrainian silos. Russian officials have said that it could provide a corridor for vessels carrying grain if the West lifts sanctions. Ukraine and Western officials have called this a form of blackmail. Host Marco Werman speaks with Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute where he studies sea power and maritime doctrine.

26 May
The cold logic behind Russia’s crude, nihilistic tactics in Ukraine
Constant bombardment threatens to produce a stalemate that would cost Kyiv dear economically and politically
(The Guardian) Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region is making slow progress. Having rushed to launch the operation to avoid giving Ukraine time to bring up new weapons from the west, Russia has found that its depleted and exhausted units are unwilling and unable to assault Ukrainian positions without incurring unacceptable losses. The Russian army has, therefore, fallen back on the mass application of artillery, destroying village after village, which they occupy after Ukrainian units withdraw.
For the Ukrainian military, the current Russian tactics may be unsophisticated and nihilistic, but they are also dangerous. To stop the Russians from advancing, the Ukrainian armed forces must occupy the ground. This subjects their units to heavy bombardment, and is producing a steady accumulation of Ukrainian casualties. The Ukrainians are trying to limit the weight of Russian fire by raiding and striking the logistics supporting the Russian artillery.
… Finally, there is the question of alliance unity. There are growing calls across Nato to consider negotiated solutions, often premised on trading Ukrainian territory for peace. While negotiations should never be abandoned, pushing for a ceasefire that would lock in Russian gains, allow the Russian army to recover and prepare for a renewed offensive and leave Ukraine economically crippled, is deeply naive. It is vital that the disagreements about objectives between key European partners are thrashed out and resolved as soon as possible. As Ukrainian citizens are put through filtration camps, and Russia plots the annexation of more of its territory, it must be understood that peace on Russia’s terms would be a very violent affair.

18-21 May
In biggest victory yet, Russia claims to capture Mariupol
(AP) Russia claimed to have captured Mariupol after a nearly three-month siege that reduced much of the strategic port city to a smoking ruin, with over 20,000 civilians feared dead.
Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up at the steelworks had surrendered since Monday, including over 500 on Friday.
As they surrendered, the troops were taken prisoner by the Russians, and at least some were taken to a former penal colony. Others were said to be hospitalized.
Tweet from Ben Hodges, Former Commanding General @USArmyEurope, Pershing Chair @CEPA
The entire World needs to pay close attention to how these Soldiers are treated by the Russians. I have zero confidence that the Kremlin will show any more restraint than they showed in Bucha, unless there is a continuous very bright international light shining. @antonioguterres
Captive medic’s bodycam shows firsthand horror of Mariupol
(AP) Yuliia Paievska is known in Ukraine as Taira, a moniker from the nickname she chose in the World of Warcraft video game. Using a body camera, she recorded 256 gigabytes of her team’s frantic efforts over two weeks to bring people back from the brink of death.
Taira is now a prisoner of the Russians, one of hundreds of prominent Ukrainians who have been kidnapped or captured, including local officials, journalists, activists and human rights defenders.
The U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has recorded 204 cases of enforced disappearances. It said some victims may have been tortured, and five were later found dead. The office of Ukraine’s ombudswoman said it had received reports of thousands of missing people by late April, 528 of whom had probably been captured.
Interrogation, uncertainty for surrendering Mariupol troops
(AP/CTV) Russia said Wednesday that nearly 1,000 Ukrainian troops making their last stand in Mariupol have surrendered, edging ever closer to the end of the battle that turned the city into a symbol of resistance and suffering.
The fighters trooping out of the ruined sprawl of the Azovstal steel mill, carrying their wounded and leaving a dwindling number inside, face an uncertain fate. Ukraine says it hopes for a prisoner swap, but Russia has said some could be investigated for war crimes.
Russian Defence Ministry video has shown troops carrying out their wounded on gurneys and submitting to firm and thorough pat-downs. The troops were unarmed but were not shown with their hands raised in the air. Only the plant stands in the way of Russia declaring the full capture of Mariupol. That would be a boost for Russian President Vladimir Putin in a war where many of his plans have gone awry.

16 May
Russia Planned a Major Military Overhaul. Ukraine Shows the Result.
This war has exposed the fact that, to Russia’s detriment, much of the military culture and learned behavior of the Soviet era endures: inflexibility in command structure, corruption in military spending, and concealing casualty figures and repeating the mantra that everything is going according to plan.
(NYT) Army vehicles were so decrepit that repair crews were stationed roughly every 15 miles. Some officers were so out of shape that the military budgeted $1.5 million to re-size standard uniforms.
That was the Russian military more than a decade ago when the country invaded Georgia, according to the defense minister at the time. The shortcomings, big and small, were glaring enough that the Kremlin announced a complete overhaul of the military to build a leaner, more flexible, professional force.
But now, almost three months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is clear the Kremlin fell woefully short of creating an effective fighting machine. Russian forces in Ukraine have underperformed to a degree that has surprised most Western analysts, raising the prospect that President Vladimir V. Putin’s military operation could end in failure.

11 May
Putin prepared for ‘prolonged’ conflict, U.S. intelligence chief says
(WaPo) Russian President Vladimir Putin is prepared for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, betting that Russia is more willing and able to endure the longer-term effects of the war than Moscow’s adversaries, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told senators on Tuesday.
But the war may grow more volatile in the next few months, she said. Both Ukraine and Russia appear confident in achieving battlefield progress, making a diplomatic path unlikely. That, combined with the mismatch between Putin’s ambitions and the Russian military’s capabilities, means the war could become more “unpredictable and escalatory,” she said.
Putin’s strange war in Ukraine has no endgame in sight
The Russian president’s mendacious speech on Victory Day was consistent with previous delusional statements, but his army’s tactics in Ukraine are harder to decipher
Alon Pinkas
(Haaretz) While the speech wasn’t escalatory in practical statements, it was undoubtedly a breathtaking display of lies, patently false arguments and a mendacious historical narrative. That the invasion was “inevitable, timely and the only correct decision” because Russia needed to “denazify” Ukraine is a familiar trope from Putin, underlining his entire Ukraine rationale. But he went even further this time: the United States and NATO deliberately expanded to Russia’s borders to precipitate conflict; NATO was planning to attack Russia through Crimea; Ukraine was considering acquiring nuclear weapons; the United States is trying to “cancel Russian values.”
Ultimately, he framed the brutal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine as some heroic clash of core values between civilizations. This has been a central tenet of Putin’s nationalist-messianic-delusional narrative about the Russian “humiliation,” and restoring its greatness and geopolitical stature since at least 2014.
At the same time, repeating it didn’t merely show consistency but exposed a weak, out-of-touch leader whose perceptions of reality are distorted and likely rely on lies, inaccurate accounts and selective intelligence from the dwindling circle of sycophants around him.
Putin’s rationale for war and the West’s anticipation of Russian escalation highlights a perplexing question that has gone unanswered since the invasion began 76 days ago: notwithstanding the planning, operational and logistical military failures, Russia has immense firepower so why has it not employed it more comprehensively?
In other words, why has Russia refrained from acting in a more brutal and destructive way?
For sure, the war has been atrocious with cities leveled, thousands killed and millions displaced. But in the United States and NATO, there is no definitive answer as to why Russia hasn’t employed broader and more lethal firepower.

10 May
The ripple effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine are changing the world
(NPR) Far from Russia’s war in Ukraine, stores are running out of cooking oil, people are paying more at the gas pump, farmers are scrambling to buy fertilizer and nations are rethinking alliances.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered seismic repercussions: a fast-moving refugee crisis, unprecedented sanctions against a major economy and a shakeup of global relationships, including a reinvigorated NATO. Below, we zoom in on some of the ways the world has changed since the war began on Feb. 24.

5 May
The New Cold War Could Soon Heat Up
Why Russia and the West Might Escalate the Fight Over Ukraine
By Ian Bremmer
(Foreign Affairs) Gone are the days when Russia’s war aims consisted solely of “de-Nazifying and demilitarizing” Ukraine. Also gone are the days when U.S. and allied governments limited their involvement to helping Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Leaders on both sides of the conflict have now crossed a series of lines that cannot easily be uncrossed. The result is a new Cold War between Russia and its opponents—one that promises to be less global than its twentieth-century counterpart but also less stable and predictable. …
Despite the asymmetry between Moscow and Washington in traditional measures of power, Russia’s most sophisticated digital weapons are more destabilizing than the nuclear missiles that threatened the United States and Europe in the 1980s. Cyberweapons can’t instantly kill people, but they remain highly destructive—capable of inflicting serious damage on financial systems, power grids, and other essential infrastructure. Most important, states are far more likely to use cyberweapons than other weapons of mass destruction because they are easier to build, easier to hide, extremely hard to defend against, and nearly impossible to deter.
Washington should take little comfort in the fact that Putin has not yet wielded the most destructive of these weapons. Effective cyberattacks take months, perhaps years, to plan, and the war in Ukraine has only just begun. Just as the United States and Europe responded to the invasion by punishing Russia economically, Moscow can use its cyberweapons to cripple the United States and Europe politically—by targeting upcoming elections with ever-larger and more frequent waves of disinformation.

3 May
Thomas Friedman: A Message to the Biden Team on Ukraine
Last week, in Poland, standing near the border with Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin got my attention — and certainly Vladimir Putin’s — when he declared that America’s war aim in Ukraine is no longer just helping Ukraine restore its sovereignty, but … “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine. So, it has already lost a lot of military capability. And a lot of its troops, quite frankly. And we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability.”
…I hope that this war ends with Russia’s military sharply degraded and Putin out of power. I’d just never say so publicly if I were in leadership, because it buys you nothing and can potentially cost you a lot.
… Our goal began simple and should stay simple: Help Ukrainians fight as long as they have the will and help them negotiate when they feel the time is right — so they can restore their sovereignty and we can reaffirm the principle that no country can just devour the country next door. Freelance beyond that and we invite trouble.
How so? For starters, I don’t want America responsible for what happens in Russia if Putin is toppled.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 1
(Institute for the Study of War/ISW) ISW has updated its assessment of the four primary efforts Russian forces are engaged in at this time:
Main effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate supporting efforts);
Supporting effort 1—Kharkiv and Izyum;
Supporting effort 2—Southern axis;
Supporting effort 3—Sumy and northeastern Ukraine.
Immediate items to watch
Russian attacks from Izyum will likely be at least temporarily disrupted by the attack on the Russian command post in the area.
Russian forces will likely attempt to starve out the remaining defenders of the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol.
Russian forces may be preparing to conduct renewed offensive operations to capture the entirety of Kherson Oblast in the coming days.
Russian forces may be preparing to attempt an operation to seize Odesa from the east and west, although the success of such an operation is very unlikely.

30 April
Armed forces pile pressure on Putin to unleash full might on Ukraine
Harsh criticism of the ‘dwarves in the Kremlin’ over failed blitz on Kyiv and stalled offensive
(The Telegraph/Montreal Gazette) “The military are outraged that the blitz on Kyiv has failed,” Irina Borogan, a Russian journalist and author with contacts in the security services, told The Daily Telegraph.
“People in the army are seeking payback for failures of the past and they want to go further in Ukraine.”
And it seems their calls are being heard. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said on Thursday that Mr Putin was likely to announce general mobilisation of the Russian population within weeks to make up for military losses.
Declaring all-out war with Ukraine would entail two things the Kremlin has so far tried to avoid: martial law and mass mobilisation.
Mobilisation would mean Russia will need to call up reservists and keep conscripts beyond their one-year term, a politically fraught decision.
Martial law would close the country’s borders and nationalise large parts of the economy, which is hanging by a thread. Mr Putin has been anxious to maintain a semblance of normality in Russia amid crippling Western sanctions, ordering his cabinet to come up with financial aid for families and businesses.

28 April
Ukraine recap: the (apprehensive) view from neighbouring Moldova
Jonathan Este, Associate Editor, International Affairs Editor
(The Conversation) A series of fires at oil depots inside Russia have been reported as possible acts of Ukrainian sabotage, while in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, attacks on a security agency building in the region’s capital, Tiraspol, and on a military unit in a village just outside Tiraspol, were blamed by an official on Ukrainian “infiltrators”. For its part, Ukraine says this is clearly a “false flag” operation which could be used by Moscow as an excuse to extend the conflict to Moldova.
This followed a statement on Friday April 22 about Russia’s aims for “stage two” of its war, by top Russian general, Rustam Minnekayev. He said that Russia would aim to occupy and control the south and east of the country, blocking Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and providing “another way out to Transnistria, where there are also cases of oppression of the Russian-speaking population”.

26-27 April
Russia cuts natural gas to 2 NATO nations in escalation
(AP) — Russia cut off natural gas to NATO members Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday and threatened to do the same to other countries, dramatically escalating its standoff with the West over the war in Ukraine. European leaders decried the move as “blackmail.”
A day after the U.S. and other Western allies vowed to speed more and heavier weapons to Ukraine, the Kremlin used its most most essential export as leverage against two of Kyiv’s staunch backers
Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to spill over in dangerous new phase
A series of mysterious explosions in Moldova have raised the threat of Russia’s war in Ukraine spilling over into new territory, with unpredictable consequences.
(The Guardian) The blasts destroyed radio antennas in a Russian-garrisoned sliver of eastern Moldova along the Ukrainian border, Transnistria, which had been peaceful since a brief conflict in 1992 waged by Kremlin-backed separatists against the Moldovan army.
The separatist authorities blamed the incidents on Ukrainian infiltrators while the Kyiv government alleged they were false-flag attacks designed to provide a pretext for an infusion of Russian troops, to add to the 1,500 already based there, just as similar blasts in the Donbas preceded the 24 February Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Those allegations were given greater weight when residents in Transnistria received fake SMS texts on Tuesday warning of an imminent Ukrainian attack. The Moldovan president, Maia Sandu, convened an emergency meeting of her security council and declared that forces were at play in Transnistria which were “interested in destabilising the region”.

Jeremy Kinsman: The War, the Reckoning, and its Aftermath
(Policy) It is hard to envisage any kind of “normal” relationships soon between any G7 country and Russia as long as Putin is in power (though calls to cut all Canada’s contacts with Russia are juvenile – the Arctic Council, for example, is vital). Increasingly severe sanctions on Russia for the invasion have been cemented by the evidence of a mass crime scene whose repercussions will last for a generation. The notion of Russia now participating in G20 discussions of international management of the world economy, after violating basic world rules by a gratuitous war against a neighbour whose costs will be a trillion dollars, is absurd.
Russia will emerge severely weakened. Despite old-style declarations by US national security advisor Jake Sullivan that it suits US purposes (including political) to see Russia so diminished, echoed on NATO’s Eastern flank, thought needs to be given to ways to encourage post-conflict rehabilitation – of Russia, but more importantly, of confidence in the international rules-based order, increasingly undermined by a corrosive culture of disinformation facilitated by communications platforms.

Bob Rae: Putin’s War- Truth and Consequences
As the costs in blood and treasure of Vladimir Putin’s illegal aggression against Ukraine have mounted and the systemic motives for that aggression have been clarified, Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, has emerged as an eloquent defender of human rights and democratic values. In this latest piece for Policy, Rae examines the current crisis and its place in history, geopolitics and international law.
(Policy Magazine) Vladimir Putin thought his military operation would be special, speedy and quickly done. He was wrong. He is not the first tyrant to make a terrible miscalculation, nor will he be the last. But our resolve must be clear: he cannot succeed in this exercise of cruelty and criminality. Nor can he avoid responsibility for what he started and how the troops under his command have committed such carnage. As Churchill so aptly said “when you are walking through hell, keep going”. That is what we must do now.
We also have to deal with the broader impacts of the invasion on the global economy. The sanctions on Russia, the destruction of ports, infrastructure, land, agriculture, the refugee displacement, all these have meant chaos in local economies and global markets. Sixty countries have now been identified as facing debt crises. Food shortages and even famine are expected in many countries. Social and political unrest always follow inflation in food and energy prices. Putin thought his “local problem” could be quickly solved. How wrong he is. As another Conservative survivor, Talleyrand, once said: “It is worse than immoral. It is a blunder.”

25 April
Ukraine invasion: ‘stage two’ of Russia’s war is ringing alarm bells in nearby Moldova – here’s why
(The Conversation) The second stage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is underway. The scope of the war now appears to be establishing full control over Donbas and southern Ukraine. If successful, this would mean Russian occupation of approximately one-third of Ukraine, cutting the country off from its Black Sea ports, including Odesa.
If fully realised, these objectives also raise the deeply worrying prospect of a Russian move on Moldova and its break-away region of Transnistria. Stage two of Putin’s war could thus very well imply a more serious escalation.

22-23 April
Putin’s Unholy War
Faith matters during times of war, especially in neighboring predominantly Orthodox countries like Russia and Ukraine with a deeply intertwined religious inheritance. As the current conflict evolves, it is increasingly clear that the messages reaching Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox congregations are strikingly different. This spiritual dimension will have a crucial impact on the ultimate outcome of the war and looks set to further deepen the divide that separates modern Russia and Ukraine.
(Atlantic Council) Religion has long been at the heart of the troubled relationship between the two countries, with the Russian Orthodox Church historically serving to strengthen Russia’s imperial authority over Ukraine. In recent years, religious ties played a central role in Putin’s efforts to prevent Ukraine from exiting the Russian sphere of influence.
Many Ukrainians have been outraged by Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill’s open and frequently outspoken support for the war, which has included echoing Putin’s claims regarding Ukraine’s place within the so-called “Russian world.” Ukrainians have also been shocked and distressed to see the religious leader apparently bless the killing of Ukrainian soldiers.
This dismay has expressed itself in spiritual resistance that has rallied Ukraine’s fragmented Orthodox denominations. Metropolitan Onuphry, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate, has issued an unprecedented statement urging Putin to end the war. Meanwhile, more than 300 priests from his church are petitioning for Patriarch Kirill’s removal, something inconceivable just weeks ago
Russian Orthodox priests and deacons from around the world have publicly called on Patriarch Kirill to take a stronger peace stance. Some believers are leaving the Russian Orthodox Church altogether in protest, with numerous individual parishes defecting.
Other Christian leaders have also expressed their alarm over the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in Putin’s war of aggression. The World Council of Churches is reportedly considering expelling the Russian Orthodox Church from its fellowship. Pope Francis has been particularly vocal in his appeals for peace and has recently cancelled plans for a June meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Jerusalem.

Military analysts forecast that the problems bedeviling Russia’s forces will continue in the east.
(NYT) Big militaries fight with tight organization and strict hierarchy, with multiple levels of command ensuring that large number of forces can move in a coordinated way, but during the current invasion, analysts and U.S. officials have said, the Russian military has abandoned that structure. It has formed 800-person-strong battalion tactical groups, and to fill them out it has combined units that had not previously worked together, and gutted the middle layers of its battlefield command structure.
The Ukrainian military claimed on Saturday that it destroyed a Russian command post in the southern region of Kherson, which has been largely under Russian control since the early days of the war.
(NYT) In a separate statement, Oleksiy Arestovych, a former Ukrainian military intelligence officer who is now an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office, said that about 50 senior Russian officers were in the command center at the time of the attack. The Ukrainian military claimed later that two Russian generals were killed and another critically injured and had to be evacuated.
Ballistic missiles won’t make the difference in the Donbas — drones will
The war in Ukraine is entering a new phase, and what’s required on the battlefield is changing.
(Politico Eu) … in the unfolding battle for the Donbas, it is actually logistics and smaller, cheaper conventional weapons, albeit advanced ones, that will make the real difference — not intercontinental missiles.
Hence the constant public and behind-the-scenes appeals by Ukrainians for more weaponry — requests United States President Joe Biden’s administration is going some way to respond to, with the announcement of $800 million in new arms supplies on Thursday. The new U.S. weapon deliveries will include 72 long-range howitzers and towing vehicles, along with 144,000 artillery rounds and more than 120 drones tailored for Ukraine’s needs.
As Russian forces seek to expand their control of the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk and firmly establish a land bridge with Crimea, it is this type of weaponry — reconnaissance and armed drones, howitzers, light anti-tank weapons, like Britain’s Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs) — that will determine the outcome of the skirmishes to come.
Take the sinking of the flagship vessel of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which was taken out on April 14 by one of Ukraine’s Neptune missiles. The Neptune is an updated Soviet-era anti-ship missile that entered service just over a year ago. There are also some reports that a Turkish Bayraktar armed drone may have played a role in the ship’s fate as well.

20 April
Ian Bremmer: The price of Russian defeat
Unpalatable as it may be, the desire to beat Putin thoroughly must be weighed against the dangers of pushing him to escalate further.
…there’s only so much more the West can do to him in response. Russia is already a pariah for the advanced industrial democracies, the economy is well on its way to being cut off, the West is already throwing its full weight behind Ukraine, and Putin knows that NATO is not going to risk nuclear war by directly intervening in the conflict.
What’s to stop him, then, from responding to battlefield losses and international isolation by using scorched-earth tactics against Ukrainian cities, killing many more civilians, or from using chemical weapons or even tactical nuclear weapons, as President Zelensky warned last weekend? What’s to stop him from intensifying his asymmetric warfare against the West, including through more frequent cyber, disinformation, and subversion attacks? That’s the danger of acting as if Russia can be fully defeated without consequences. And that’s why I remain pessimistic about where the war is heading.
Both morally and strategically, we have an obligation to consider the risks of forcing Putin into a position where his only options are to capitulate or escalate, knowing full well that he doesn’t have a capitulation button and that he can rain much more death and destruction on Ukraine than he has thus far.
Ukraine Live Updates: Fighting Flares in East, as Russia Issues Warning With Missile Test
President Vladimir Putin said those who threaten Russia should “think twice,” though his Defense Ministry said the weapon needed more testing before it could be deployed. Moscow’s offensive in eastern Ukraine continued, as Ukrainian officials said they were pushing back.

19 April
The Economist Today: Russia begins a new phase of its war in Ukraine
The coming weeks may see the biggest tank clashes in decades
“IT CAN NOW be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas,” pronounced Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, late on April 18th. More than three weeks have passed since Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, abandoned his assault on Kyiv and retreated from northern Ukraine, defeated. Now Mr Putin is throwing a large portion of his weary army at eastern Ukraine in the hope of salvaging something from his war. The coming weeks are likely to see the bloodiest battles since Russia first invaded Donbas in 2014.
Neither the operation nor its aims—encircling or pushing back elite Ukrainian troops based in the region—come as a surprise. Ukraine has been preparing for this moment since the start of the war, digging new lines of defence along the main road arteries and other axes of potential advance. The initial clashes reported by Mr Zelensky and his officials are likely to be a mixture of Russian reconnaissance, to establish the strength of Ukrainian defences, and shelling, to soften them up in advance of ground attacks that will follow.
Kyiv says Russia aims to grab land, crush Ukraine’s armed forces
(Reuters) – The aim of Russia’s new military offensive in east Ukraine is to grab land, establish an overground link between territories in the east and Crimea, and crush Ukraine’s armed forces, Ukraine’s defence ministry said on Tuesday.
Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuznyak said Russian forces were attacking along the entire front line in eastern Ukraine, pressing their siege of Mariupol in the south and trying to encircle cities in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Ukrainians deported to Russia from besieged Mariupol dream of home
Liudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudswoman for human rights, said last week that Russia had taken 134,000 people from Mariupol and that 33,000 of those were forcibly deported. Reuters was unable to determine the accuracy of those statistics.
The 1949 Geneva Conventions, which defined legal standards for humanitarian treatment in conflict, prohibit the mass forcible transfer of civilians during an international conflict to the territory of the occupying power, classifying it as a war crime.

18 April
Moscow continues mis(dis)information about Moskva
Moskva crewman’s mother says dozens died when flagship sank
by Julian O’Shaughnessy
Questions are being asked, including on state television, about why the fire on board was not contained. Conceding that the flagship was lost because of negligence could also cause irreparable damage to the Russian public’s image of their armed forces. Alexander Baunov, a political analyst, said: “For Russian state commentators and propagandists, there is no good version of the sinking of the Moskva.”
(The Times UK) The mother of a sailor who survived the sinking of the Moskva last week has contradicted claims by the Kremlin that the 500 crew members were safely evacuated, saying that dozens died or suffered horrific injuries. Images and a short video have been posted online that appear to support her account. They show Russia’s Black Sea flagship, a guided-missile cruiser, engulfed in flames and listing to port shortly before it sank off the coast of Ukraine. The rescue rafts are missing, suggesting that they were deployed during an attempt to evacuate the crew from the burning warship.
Ukraine says the Moskva sank after being hit with Neptune anti-ship missiles that were fired from its naval facility in Odesa, with the ship’s radar systems distracted by a decoy drone shortly before the missiles were launched.
Russia insists that the warship was badly damaged after a fire on board led to an “ammunitions blast”, and that it sank “in a storm” while being towed to its home port of Sevastopol, Crimea. However, weather records show that wind speeds in the region were barely four miles an hour when the Mosvka went down, and in the video the sea looks calm.

17 April
The Economist Today Newsletter
More than 50 days have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine. Amid a continuing lull in the fighting on land, this week the Russians suffered an astonishing setback at sea: the loss of the Moskva, flagship of the Black Sea fleet—to our missiles, said the Ukrainians (and the Pentagon); to a fire on board, claimed the Russians. The relative quiet is, of course, deceptive. Vladimir Putin is believed to be preparing an offensive in south-eastern Ukraine in the hope of claiming some sort of victory by May 9th, when Russia commemorates the defeat of Germany in 1945. Mr Putin has put General Alexander Dvornikov, who conducted a brutal campaign in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad, in command in Ukraine. He may impose more organisation on the Russian effort, and inflict even more misery on Ukrainians.
As we await the Russian push, we are again watching Mariupol, a key southern port that has suffered weeks of bombardment. Mariupol’s refusal to fall is but one of many instances of Ukrainian resilience. In our latest weekly edition we examine what animates the country’s resistance. A remarkable capacity for self-organisation , we conclude. But, looking ahead to the task facing Ukraine once the war is over, that will not be enough to rebuild a shattered country. Economists put the bill at up to half a trillion dollars.

14-16 April
Historic loss of flagship deals humiliating blow to Russia’s naval power
(Kyiv Independent) The Moskva is the first major warship destroyed in combat by a Ukrainian anti-ship missile. And it is the first Russian flagship destroyed and lost since World War II.
Moreover, it is a key warship lost in combat to a nation that has effectively no navy.
The sensational loss challenges Russia’s status as a naval power and undermines its air defense capabilities against Ukraine in the Black Sea. …
The very elusive Russian version says that the 11,500-ton flagship, the Black Sea Fleet’s key vessel, sank following a fire and a detonation, triggered by an unknown factor.
As of April 16, more than two days after the incident, Russia has not officially delivered any information on any casualties among over 500 crew members and said nothing about the reportedly evacuated crew’s whereabouts and status.
In Russian-occupied Sevastopol, also not a single word was officially delivered on the Russian sailors’ fate, as of April 16.
Meanwhile, the Moskva disaster may greatly surpass the death toll of the ill-fated Kursk submarine, which sank in 2000, shortly following Vladimir Putin’s coming to power. The catastrophe, in which 118 Russian sailors were killed, caused a nationwide stir in Russia — unlike the current situation.
Satellite Image Pinpoints Russian Cruiser Moskva As She Burned
(Naval News) Analysis of radar satellite imagery has revealed the location of the Moskva soon after she was reportedly hit by 2 missiles. The Russian Navy cruiser was the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet and is a symbolic as well as naval loss for Russia.
Russian warship sinks in the Black Sea after Ukraine claims it was hit by a missile
(CNN) One of the Russian Navy’s most important warships has sunk in the Black Sea, a massive blow to a military struggling against Ukrainian resistance 50 days into Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his neighbor.
Russian state news agency TASS reported Thursday evening that the guided-missile cruiser Moskva had sunk, citing a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
“During the towing of the cruiser Moskva to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to hull damage received during a fire from the detonation of ammunition. In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank,” the statement said, according to TASS.

12-13 April
Putin Vows To Pursue War to Its ‘Full Completion’ but for the first time he effectively defined a more limited goal of gaining control of the separatist eastern Donbas region rather than the entire country.
Russia is pouring troops and equipment into eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials thwarted a Russian cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid.
Syrians help defend Ukraine against Russia, whose troops are now led by their brutal commander Dvornikov
White Helmets: ‘The time and place have changed, but the victim is the same — civilians — and the killer is the same’
Syrian and Ukrainian organizations have formed a coalition called the Syria Ukraine Network (SUN), Insider reports. Olga Lautman, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said she’s connecting Syrian groups, ranging from war crime experts to the White Helmets to Ukrainian organizations on the ground in Ukraine so Syrians can pass along advice and best practices on how to navigate attacks on civilians.
“From our experiences in Syria, we might be among those most able to understand the pain of the people of Ukraine,” Raed al-Saleh, head of the Syria Civil Defence force, known as the White Helmets, recently told Agence France-Presse.

7-11 April
Ukraine says tens of thousands killed in Mariupol, accuses Russia of abuses
(Reuters) – Ukraine on Monday said tens of thousands of people have likely been killed in Russia’s assault on the southeastern city of Mariupol while the country’s rights ombudswoman accused Russian forces in the region of torture and executions.
Reuters has confirmed widespread destruction in Mariupol but could not verify the alleged crimes or the estimate of those killed in the strategic city, which lies between Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern areas of Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists.
New Russian war chief will bring more brutality in Ukraine, US warns
Moscow promotes Alexander Dvornikov, who led Russian troops in Syria, as it regroups for Donbas battle
[U.S. national security adviser Jake] Sullivan said Dvornikov’s promotion would lead to more atrocities. “This particular general has a résumé that includes brutality against civilians in other theatres – in Syria – and we can expect more of the same” in Ukraine, he said.
Timothy Snyder: Russia’s genocide handbook
The evidence of atrocity and of intent mounts
Russia has just issued a genocide handbook for its war on Ukraine. The Russian official press agency “RIA Novosti” published last Sunday an explicit program for the complete elimination of the Ukrainian nation as such. It is still available for viewing, and has now been translated several times into English.
As I have been saying since the war began, “denazification” in official Russian usage just means the destruction of the Ukrainian state and nation
Julius Strauss: The Bodies from Srebrenica
The Bosnian war began 30 years ago this week. Some of the parallels with Ukraine are striking.
When the Bosnian war started three decades ago few imagined the horrors that lay ahead.
But perhaps most striking is the flat denial among the aggressors that they have done anything wrong.
When photographs and videos of the killings at Bucha were broadcast this week the Russian government simply put out a statement saying the images were all fakes.
And almost every Bosnian Serb I spoke to during my recent trip to Bosnia – and there were many – said that Srebrenica was not a genocide.

6 April
The Russo-Ukraine War: Phase Two
By Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London.
(Comment is Freed) …even if Russia does acquire the territory it seeks in the Donbas and prepares for a climactic defensive battle, there still remains the perplexing question about the nature of Putin’s end game. From the start the most baffling aspect of this war has been the incoherence of Russian strategy. The gap between stated aims and available capabilities was wide enough when it started but it has now widened even further, especially after being defeated in the war’s first round.
… Maybe he will soon lose interest in a land grab but satisfy himself with a de-industrialised and impoverished Ukraine, its people traumatised and its infrastructure broken. There are suggestions from American intelligence, who seem to have some good sources, that Putin has set a target for Russian forces to get the whole operation concluded in time for 9th May, the anniversary of the conclusion of the Second World war, and normally marked by a big parade in Moscow. There is another round of intense military action to come but if that fails as badly as that of the first round then perhaps he can do no more than look at the mess his forces have made of Ukraine by 9th May and call it a day.

5 April
Russian cruelty laid bare
The massacre at Bucha is just the latest in a long history of Moscow’s brutality
Julius Strauss
Russia has announced it is withdrawing its forces from the area around Kyiv and strengthening its push in the east of Ukraine. As its forces pulled out they left behind destroyed villages, bodies and mass graves. But, as I write here, this is far from the first time Russia has murdered civilians in war zones. In fact, it has become their standard operation procedure.
“I don’t think that, by their standards, there is anything unusual in what the Russians did in Bucha,” a western politician who has long-standing ties with Ukraine and Russia told me yesterday. “Just look at Chechnya.”
Satellite images show bodies in Bucha for weeks, rebutting Moscow claim
Kremlin has dismissed the graphic images emerging from the town as “fakes” concocted by Ukraine.
(AFP via International Business Times) “High-resolution Maxar satellite imagery collected over Bucha, Ukraine (northwest of Kyiv) verifies and corroborates recent social media videos and photos that reveal bodies lying in the streets and left out in the open for weeks,” Maxar Technologies spokesman Stephen Wood said Monday in a statement.
The New York Times published an analysis of close-ups of Bucha’s Yablonska street, and concluded — after comparing it with video footage from April 1 and 2 of dead bodies along the street — that many had been there since at least three weeks ago, when Russian forces were in control of the town.

4 April
Nina L. Khrushcheva: Putin’s war will destroy Russia
(Project Syndicate via Globe & Mail) By attacking another European country, Putin crossed a line that was drawn after World War II – and changed the world. But he also changed Russia, from a functioning autocracy to a Stalinesque dictatorship, a country characterized by violent repression, inscrutable arbitrariness, and a massive brain drain.

3 April
Max Boot: The atrocities in Bucha are no aberration. This is the Russian way of war.
(WaPo) The Ukrainian government proclaimed on Saturday that all of the Kyiv administrative region had been freed of Russian control. It was as if the Free French forces were entering Paris in 1944.
The reason civilians were so jubilant to be liberated has become grimly apparent. Sickening pictures from Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, show the corpses of residents who had been bound, shot and left by the side of the road. The mayor of Bucha said that some 270 people had been found in two mass graves and another 40 were lying dead in the streets.

Russia-Ukraine: A negotiated settlement will be difficult
Steven Pifer, Center for International Security and Cooperation
(Brookings) Kyiv’s proposals offer a serious bid to end the war. Zelensky clearly wants a halt to the fighting, as more Ukrainians die each day, but he is not prepared to give away the store. Any negotiation will require tough decisions on the settlement terms—decisions that should be made by Zelensky and his government, as any compromises could prove controversial in a country that has united against the Russian aggressor. … However, no real negotiation will be possible unless and until the Kremlin recognizes that it cannot achieve its objectives by force and that it will have to back off of its maximalist demands. If and when matters reach that point, the hard bargaining will begin. (31 March)

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