Putin’s War Russia-Ukraine 22 August – 20 October 2022

Written by  //  October 20, 2022  //  Geopolitics, Russia, Ukraine  //  Comments Off on Putin’s War Russia-Ukraine 22 August – 20 October 2022

Four maps that explain the Russia-Ukraine conflict
Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

26 August
Kemal Derviş: What are the West’s strategic goals in the Ukraine war?
(Brookings) While the outcome of the fighting remains uncertain, the West’s strategic aims, particularly how it intends to treat Russia in the event that Ukraine prevails, will have huge consequences. The big question is whether the allies will seek to punish Russia as a whole by imposing severe reparations or instead target President Vladimir Putin’s autocratic regime in a way that limits the burdens imposed on the Russian people.

20 October
How to respond if Putin goes nuclear? Here are the economic and political options.
Russia’s use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine would demand a fast, near-immediate response by a broad coalition of concerned states beyond just the current Western-aligned nations.
(Atlantic Council) Losing on the battlefield, Russian President Vladimir Putin has resorted to implied threats of nuclear weapons use in his war of choice in Ukraine. The United States, Group of Seven (G7) nations, NATO, and the European Union (EU) have responded to his brinksmanship by reaffirming support for Ukraine and its territorial integrity.
Additionally, the United States and others have sent public (and, reportedly, private) messages on the severe consequences Russia will face if it indeed uses any type of nuclear weapon against Ukraine. Although unlikely, the chances of Russian use of nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine are not negligible. After all, Putin surprised many (though not the US government) when he launched his February 24 offensive against Ukraine.
Laying out for the Russians the consequences of any nuclear use is a good idea. Those conversations must necessarily focus on military options as the most effective deterrent, but should not end with them. Even though Putin has eschewed traditional rational actor behavior in the political and economic sphere with his unprovoked and gruesome invasion of Ukraine, the West should still threaten severe political and economic steps in response to any Russian nuclear use. All these measures should be prepared for rapid application by the G7 and coordinated to at least some extent with other key countries, including China. Russia’s use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine would demand a fast, near-immediate response by a broad coalition of concerned states beyond just the current Western-aligned nations.

19 October
Putin demands all-Russia war effort as he declares martial law in occupied Ukraine
Putin tells all Russian regions to support needs of army
Order meets low-key response from regional heads
Kremlin chief says soldiers need proper kit
Martial law in occupied regions under Ukrainian counter-attack

18 October
Russia destroys power and water infrastructure across Ukraine
Ukraine facing ‘critical’ power situation, says official
Three dead in new strikes in Kyiv
Zelenskiy accuses Russia of targeting civilians
Moscow says it is hitting infrastructure
New Russian commander acknowledges difficulties
Russian forces in Ukraine under pressure as Kherson towns to be evacuated
(Reuters) – The new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine acknowledged on Tuesday that his troops were under broad pressure and faced hard choices, as the Russian-appointed governor of occupied Kherson province announced a partial evacuation.
Pentagon says can’t confirm reports of Iranian missiles to Russia
(Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it did not have information at this time to corroborate reports that Iran has promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, along with more drones.
What are the ‘kamikaze drones’ Russia is using in Ukraine?
(Reuters) – Russia launched dozens of “kamikaze” drones on Ukraine on Monday, hitting energy infrastructure and killing five people in the capital of Kyiv. Ukrainians have nicknamed them “mopeds” for the loud whirring noise their engines make as they fly overhead.
Ukraine says they are Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones – loitering munitions that cruise towards their target before plummeting at velocity and detonating on impact. Kyiv moved to cut ties with Iran because of their use on Tuesday.

13 October
Russia on the Run
Recent developments in Ukraine – including an attack on the symbolically important and strategically vital Kerch Strait Bridge linking Russia to Crimea, and, more importantly, Ukrainian forces’ liberation of huge swaths of territory that Russia had just “annexed”– have set the Kremlin on edge. But Russian President Vladimir Putin still possesses a massive nuclear arsenal and plenty of cannon fodder – and may be unafraid to use them.
(Project Syndicate) Then again, maybe not both of them. While Putin has shown no compunction about sending Russians to their deaths, Josef Joffe of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies argues that he is unlikely to deploy a nuclear weapon, even a “little” tactical one. Putin may “simulate insanity,” but it is “‘rational’ brinkmanship,” aimed at “intimidating Ukraine and the West” in a way Russia’s “failing army” cannot.
Putin’s “nuclear bluster” is also supposed to help him at home, says the New School’s Nina L. Khrushcheva, by “papering over” the fact that the war in Ukraine is a “strategic disaster” for Russia and that the international community will never recognize Putin’s latest territorial claims. But what is really protecting Putin from internal challenges to his rule is not the Kremlin’s narrative about Ukraine, which “not all Russians are buying,” but rather naked repression.
For Ukraine, Russia’s tyranny is straightforward, and as Anders Åslund, a senior fellow at the Stockholm Free World Forum, notes, fighting it will require more from the West than a “steady supply of arms.” Ukraine also needs drastically increased financial support, so that it can afford to keep its government functioning without relying on inflationary debt monetization.
At the same time, warns Slavoj Žižek of the University of London, the West must not “play into Putin’s hands” by bypassing Ukraine and brokering a settlement with Russia – a strategy that would support the Kremlin narrative that Ukraine is a colony, rather than a sovereign country. Nor is economic appeasement an option, says MIT’s Simon Johnson. Instead, Europe’s response should be “to adopt properly and implement fully the proposed G7 price cap on oil – and to extend the same principle to coal.”

Only 4 countries side with Russia as U.N. rejects annexations in Ukraine
The U.N. General Assembly roundly rejected Russia’s move to illegally annex four regions of Ukraine, with only four countries voting alongside President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
(NPR) There were 35 abstentions, but 143 countries voted in favor of Ukraine’s resolution, which cited not only the need to protect the sovereignty of a country that has now withstood a Russian invasion for more than seven months, but also to defend the U.N. charter itself.

10-11 October
Putin-Biden Meet: Could Russia & US Talk Peace On Ukraine War Through A Modi-Erdogan Brokered Liaise?
(Eurasian Times) Most encouragingly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on the 60 Minutes program on the Rossiya-1 television news channel that Russia will be ready to consider a proposal for a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit if such a proposal is made.
The G20 Summit between the Heads of State/Government will take place on November 15 and 17 in Bali, Indonesia, and several other cities.
Heads of two regional powers, President Erdogan of Turkey and Prime Minister Modi of India, could be involved in brokering the summit-level peace talks on Ukraine between President Putin and President Biden.

G7 Leaders’ joint statement on Ukraine: 11 October 2022
Joint statement agreed between G7 leaders following their meeting [Tuesday] afternoon.
“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support and will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We are committed to supporting Ukraine in meeting its winter preparedness needs.”
Here’s what Russia’s attacks may indicate about its weapons stockpile
(NYT) The Russian missile and drone attacks that killed at least 19 people across Ukraine on Monday were traumatic and wide-ranging, but they were not as deadly as they could have been. … Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said it could be a sign that Russia’s guided missiles are not very effective, or that it is running short of precision munitions.
Kyiv calls for air defenses as Putin brings his Syria tactics to Ukraine
Air bombardment shows new commander’s appetite for civilian casualties.
Monday’s rush-hour bombardment on the streets of Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and other regions came as little surprise, given that Putin had already signaled his willingness to switch to ever more brutal tactics by appointing Sergey Surovikin, the general who oversaw Russian forces in Syria on-and-off from 2017 to 2020, as commander of his struggling war effort in Ukraine.
Russia Retaliates by Striking Kyiv
(Foreign Policy) Russian President Vladimir Putin suffered an embarrassing battlefield setback when a massive explosion rocked the symbolic Kerch Strait Bridge the day after his birthday, sending a section crashing into the sea and further undermining his already faltering military campaign.
On Monday morning, Russia retaliated by launching a barrage of missiles at central Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital for the first time in months. The missiles hit during the morning rush hour and appear to have struck near a number of civilian targets—including a popular park, a busy intersection, and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said at least eight people in Kyiv were killed. Russian strikes also targeted the Ukrainian cities of Lviv, Ternopil, Zaporizhzhia, and Dnipro.

8 October
UPDATE Putin tightens infrastructure security after blast on bridge
(AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree late Saturday tightening security for the Kerch Bridge and for energy infrastructure between Crimea and Russia. Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, was put in charge of the effort, according to a Kremlin statement.
(AP) — An explosion Saturday caused the partial collapse of a bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, damaging an important supply artery for the Kremlin’s faltering war effort in southern Ukraine and hitting an unmistakable symbol of Russian power in the region. … The explosion, which Russian authorities [say] was caused by a truck bomb, risked a sharp escalation in Russia’s eight-month war, with some Russian lawmakers calling for President Vladimir Putin to declare a “counterterrorism operation” in retaliation, shedding the term “special military operation” that had downplayed the scope of fighting to ordinary Russians.
The Kremlin could use such a move to broaden the power of security agencies, ban rallies, tighten censorship, introduce restrictions on travel, and expand a partial military mobilization that Putin ordered last month.

Putin appears to admit severe Russian losses in Ukraine
Ukrainian army making ‘fast and powerful progress’ in south, says Volodymyr Zelenskiy
(The Guardian) Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has appeared to concede the severity of the Kremlin’s recent military reversals in Ukraine, insisting Russia would “stabilise” the situation in four Ukrainian regions it illegally claimed as its own territory last week.
Russia has suffered significant losses in two of the four regions since Friday, when Putin signed treaties to incorporate them into Russia by force, with Russian officials saying their forces were “regrouping”.
With Ukraine pushing its advance in the east and south, Russian troops have been retreating under pressure on both fronts, confronted by fast moving and agile Ukrainian forces supplied with advanced western-supplied artillery systems.
Russia wants secret U.N. vote on move to condemn ‘annexation’ of Ukraine regions
(Reuters) – Russia is lobbying for a secret ballot instead of a public vote when the 193-member U.N. General Assembly next week considers whether to condemn Moscow’s move to annex four partially occupied regions in Ukraine after staging what it called referendums.
Ukraine and allies have denounced the votes in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as illegal and coercive. A Western-drafted U.N. General Assembly resolution would condemn Russia’s “illegal so-called referenda” and the “attempted illegal annexation” of the areas where voting occurred.

Kremlin says annexation and retreat are not a contradiction amid Ukrainian successes
By Guy Faulconbridge and Felix Light, Reuters
Putin signs annexation documents
Russian forces battle counter-offensive
Putin appoints officials to run regions
Kremlin: the territories will be returned
(Reuters) – As President Vladimir Putin completed paperwork for the annexation of four regions of Ukraine on Wednesday, the Kremlin said there was no contradiction between Russian retreats and Putin’s vow that they would always be part of Russia.
In the biggest expansion of Russian territory in at least half a century, Putin signed laws admitting the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region into Russia.

Ukrainian Troops Hunt Demoralized Russian Stragglers in Seized City
(NYT) Ukrainian forces on Sunday hunted Russian stragglers in the key city of Lyman, which was taken back from Russia after its demoralized troops, according to a major Russian newspaper, fled with “empty eyes,” and despite Moscow’s baseless claim it had annexed the region surrounding the city.
Two days after President Vladimir V. Putin held a grandiose ceremony to commemorate the incorporation of four Ukrainian territories into Russia, the debacle in the city — Lyman, a strategic railway hub in the eastern region of Donbas — ratcheted up pressure on a Russian leadership already facing withering criticism at home for its handling of the war and its conscription of up to 300,000 men into military service.
In an unusually candid article published Sunday, the prominent Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that in the last few days of their occupation, Russian forces in Lyman had been plagued by desertion, poor planning and the delayed arrival of reserves.
The retreat is a significant blow to Russian forces that could further undermine the Kremlin’s position in Donbas, a mineral-rich and fertile part of eastern Ukraine that has been central to Mr. Putin’s war aims.
Seemingly unfazed by its military setbacks, Moscow pressed ahead with its annexation effort on Sunday, as the country’s rubber-stamp Constitutional Court formally accepted Mr. Putin’s decision to claim the four Ukrainian regions as part of Russia… The city lies largely in ruins, without electricity, water or regular food supplies.
… None of the four illegally annexed regions are fully under Russian control. Ukrainian gains in the east and south have left the Kremlin’s forces with diminishing options for taking additional territory.

Owen Matthews: War has come home to Russia
(The Spectator UK) A week ago, Putin could have declared victory, proposed a peace plan and split Ukraine’s supporters. But with mobilisation sparking protests in hitherto loyal places such as Dagestan, he’s made regime change a real possibility. I wrote in these pages a few weeks ago that the alternatives to Putin are unlikely to be better. As poet and critic Dmitry Bykov says, Putin is not Hitler, he’s Kaiser Wilhelm II. After military defeat in Ukraine comes a new version of Versailles, Weimar and then the real disaster. ‘I’m not afraid of a corrupt Russia,’ Bykov says. ‘I’m afraid of a truly fascist Russia.’

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, September 29
(Institute for the Study of War) The Kremlin continues to violate its stated “partial mobilization” procedures and contradict its own messaging even while recognizing the systematic failures within the Russian bureaucracy just eight days after the declaration of mobilization.
In Zaporizhzhia, Russia controlled a referendum but not hearts or minds
In a move that mirrored the stagecraft of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, Russian soldiers and compliant local administrations held staged plebiscites in Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk, in a futile attempt to legitimize Russia’s still-tenuous military victories.
Proxy authorities said that 93 percent of citizens voted to become part of Russia. Escaping residents said those votes in some cases were cast at gunpoint.
Declaring all of these places to be Russia is one thing. Transforming them into Russia is another. Exactly how Putin intends to assert authority and control remains to be seen. Kyiv is vowing to fight until all of its land has been reclaimed, including Crimea. Western allies are promising weapons and money and more sanctions against Moscow.
UN chief warns Putin that annexing Ukraine territory is a ‘dangerous escalation’ with ‘no legal value’
António Guterres warns Putin against annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia before expected announcement.
If Russia moves ahead with its plans to annex four Ukrainian regions, it would “prolong the dramatic impacts on the global economy, especially in developing countries, and hinder our ability to deliver life-saving aid across Ukraine and beyond”, Guterres added.

Do Russia’s conscripts deserve our sympathy?
Ukrainians and anti-war Russians have a common enemy
Robin Ashenden
(The Spectator) As one looks at the photos and films of drunk bewildered ‘conscripts’ bussed off to the front, or the shots of their howling women, it’s clear that war – a war many of them didn’t seek – has come home to the Russians now, and few could quibble with that. One’s feeling may be of justice satisfied, but the compassion previously extended to the Ukrainians should surely be spread more widely now. For if anything has become blindingly obvious in the last few days it’s that, whatever the situation on the battlefield, the entire region’s fighting men, young and old, skilled and unskilled, Ukrainian and Russian – yes, them and their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters – now share one common enemy. How long it will take them to realise this fact is something that concerns all of us.

The Russian Clocks Are All TickingPutin is running out of time.
By Tom Nichols
(The Atlantic) Putin, apparently, is now directing some of the military activity on the ground in Ukraine long-distance from Moscow—he is reported, for example, to have denied requests from some units for permission to retreat from Kherson. Such interventions are always a risky choice for civilian leaders far removed from the battlefield. … One of the many looming deadlines he faces is the onset of winter, when fighting will slow, Russian morale will sink even lower, and supply issues will worsen. The Russian high command and its officers almost certainly want to win this war as a way to recover from the shame and dishonor of their staggering incompetence over the past seven months. But if they lose more men and territory because of some harebrained order from Putin, will they again stand silently and take the blame?

What Putin’s mobilisation order means for the war and the west
Stefan Wolff from the University of Birmingham and Tatyana Malyarenko from the University of Odesa have put Putin’s speech into context and believe that for all the threats and bluster, these are the words of a man under pressure which – while they may have upped the ante considerably, also betray the weakness of his – and Russia’s – position.
Putin calls up more troops and threatens nuclear option in a speech which ups the ante but shows Russia’s weakness
Stefan Wolff, Professor of International Security, University of Birmingham, and Tatyana Malyarenko, Professor of International Relations, National University Odesa Law Academy
(The Conversation) Putin needs an “excuse” not so much to escalate in Ukraine but in Russia itself. Incorporating Ukrainian territory into Russia would, from a Russian perspective, turn Ukrainian military operations to liberate these areas from Russian occupation into an act of aggression against Russia. …
The announcement of the referendums and all that they imply also poses a direct challenge to the west, daring policymakers in Nato and the EU to continue to support a Ukraine now framed by Russia as the aggressor.
The idea that China is pushing Russia not simply out of Central Asia but in fact towards a more aggressive stance on its western borders is another one of the Kremlin’s misreadings of China. But it is a very dangerous one, considering the applicability of Russia’s playbook to “unfinished business” in the pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria in Moldova and the fact that Russia also recognised, in 2008, the independence of Georgia’s two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russians flee to border after military call-up
Queues have sprung up along Russia’s border as men attempt to leave the country to avoid a military call-up for the war in Ukraine.
The Kremlin says reports of fighting-age men fleeing are exaggerated.
But on the border with Georgia, miles-long queues of vehicles have formed including men trying to escape the war.
Putin orders partial military call-up, sparking protests
(AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reservists Wednesday to bolster his forces in Ukraine, a deeply unpopular move that sparked rare protests across the country and led to almost 1,200 arrests.
The risky order follows humiliating setbacks for Putin’s troops nearly seven months after they invaded Ukraine. The first such call-up in Russia since World War II heightened tensions with Ukraine’s Western backers, who derided it as an act of weakness and desperation.
The move also sent some Russians scrambling to buy plane tickets to flee the country.
Despite Russia’s harsh laws against criticizing the military and the war, protesters outraged by the mobilization overcame their fear of arrest to stage protests in cities across the country. Nearly 1,200 Russians were arrested in anti-war demonstrations in cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to the independent Russian human rights group OVD-Info.
Russians try to escape conscription as Putin launches fresh attacks on Ukraine
New mobilization blamed for heavy traffic at Russia’s land borders, sold-out flights from Moscow
Putin escalates Ukraine war, issues nuclear threat to West
Putin announces partial mobilisation
Warns West over ‘nuclear blackmail’
Says Russia will use all means to defend itself
This is not a bluff, says Putin
Russia moves to annex swathes of Ukrainian territory
(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first mobilisation since World War Two and backed a plan to annex swathes of Ukraine, warning the West he was not bluffing when he said he’d be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.
In the biggest escalation of the Ukraine war since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion, Putin explicitly raised the spectre of a nuclear conflict, approved a plan to annex a chunk of Ukraine the size of Hungary, and called up 300,000 reservists.
Citing NATO expansion towards Russia’s borders, Putin said the West was plotting to destroy his country, engaging in “nuclear blackmail” by allegedly discussing the potential use of nuclear weapons against Moscow, and accused the United States, the European Union and Britain of encouraging Ukraine to push military operations into Russia itself.
Canada denounces ‘sham’ referenda in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine
(CBC Power & Politics) “This is just an appalling snub at the concept of democratic choice…and I think it’s a defensive move by Russia,” says Bob Rae, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN.

Putin to speak after Russia-backed officials in Ukraine regions call for referendums
The Kremlin is expected to release a prerecorded address by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday morning, following calls by Russia-backed officials in Ukraine for referendums to be held beginning Friday that could result in Moscow’s annexation of occupied parts of the country and self-declared separatist “republics.” Ukraine and its allies have condemned the “sham referendums.”
Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation
The Kremlin’s puppet authorities in occupied areas declared plans for staged referendums to approve joining Russia
(WaPo) Russia pushed ahead Tuesday with plans to annex occupied regions of Ukraine, as Moscow’s puppet authorities set dates to stage referendums on joining Russia — moves that could dramatically escalate the war.
Officials in the self-declared separatist “republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk, and in the occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, announced “referendums” to be held from Friday to Tuesday. Such votes, which are illegal under Ukrainian and international law, have been widely derided by Western officials as a sham and merely a precursor to annexation.
After annexing the territories, Moscow probably would declare Ukrainian attacks on those areas to be assaults on Russia itself, analysts warned, a potential trigger for a general military mobilization or a dangerous escalation, such as the use of a nuclear weapon.

Ukrainian strikes into Russia’s border towns compound Putin’s troubles
After a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast of the country, the messy war that Russian President Vladimir Putin started is now being fought directly on his doorstep, with artillery strikes hitting military targets in Russia and Russian officials in cities and towns along the border ordering hasty evacuations.
That Russian citizens are starting to seriously feel the impact of the war directly is another new source of pressure on Putin, who returned home this weekend from a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan where he faced a remarkable public rebuke by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and questions about the war from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Putin vows to press attack on Ukraine; courts India, China
(AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Friday to press his attack on Ukraine despite Ukraine’s latest counteroffensive and warned that Moscow could ramp up its strikes on the country’s vital infrastructure if Ukrainian forces target facilities in Russia.
Speaking to reporters Friday after attending a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan, Putin said the “liberation” of Ukraine’s entire eastern Donbas region remained Russia’s main military goal and that he sees no need to revise it.
As India Joins China in Distancing From Russia, Putin Warns of Escalation
After India’s prime minister said that now is not the time for war, an increasingly isolated Mr. Putin threatened “more serious” actions in Ukraine while insisting he was ready for talks.
(NYT) The televised critique by Mr. Modi at a regional summit in Uzbekistan came just a day after Mr. Putin acknowledged that Xi Jinping, China’s leader, had “questions and concerns” about the war.
Taken together, the distancing from Mr. Putin by the heads of the world’s two most populous countries — both of which have been pivotal to sustaining Russia’s economy in the face of Western sanctions — punctured the Kremlin’s message that Russia was far from a global pariah.
Putin’s Next Move in UkraineMobilize, Retreat, or Something In-Between?
(Foreign Affairs) For the first time in the war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin must contend with the serious prospect of losing it. Early setbacks around Kyiv and Chernigov had been balanced by Russian gains in the south and the east; they could be justified as tactical retreats and thus as Russian choices, regardless of whether they truly were. By contrast, the near rout of Russian soldiers in the Kharkiv region on September 10—and the rapid reconquest by Ukrainian forces of territory spanning some 2,000 square miles in the east and south—clearly showed that Ukraine was on top and that Russian troops may continue to fall to future such offensives. Ukraine’s Kharkiv offensive destroyed the illusion of Russian invincibility. It has also heralded a new stage in the West’s expectations. Suddenly, Western leaders and strategists have been able to contemplate Ukraine gaining the upper hand in this war. This shift in perspective seems certain to unleash a new dynamic of military support for Ukraine. The argument that Ukraine should sue for peace, rather than keep fighting, has been refuted.
Putin is now confronted with a set of harsh choices. He can keep Russia’s military commitment limited, maintaining current troop levels and continuing to insulate Russian society, or he can order a mass mobilization. Either option poses a serious threat to Putin’s legitimacy. In choosing the former, Putin would give up the prospect of Russian victory and run the risk of outright defeat. Already, the nationalist pro-war forces he has released have become more and more dissatisfied with the conduct of the war. They had been promised land and glory in a rapid campaign. Instead, they have received a staggering death toll for minor territorial advances, which now look increasingly precarious. Continuing the status quo could create dangerous new fissures in Putin’s regime.

In the latest FIIA Comment, Senior Research Fellow Jussi Lassila of the institute’s EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia research programme notes that the Kremlin used war censorship as an excuse to clamp down on opposition activists well before the elections, but the floundering war itself was largely absent from election campaigning.
Russiaʼs regional elections 2022: The elephant in the room
A floundering war in Ukraine provided easy justification for the extreme clampdown on the opposition prior to Russia’s regional elections. At the same time, the Kremlin is trying to stifle the last remaining legal means of expressing discontent.
(Finnish Institute of International Affairs) On 11 September, Russians voted to elect governors, parliamentarians, and city council members in several of its regions as well as in the Moscow district. As expected, the ruling party United Russia and its direct allies swept to victory.
The results of the elections were in line with expectations. The ruling party – United Russia – did not face any setbacks, and the party candidates, or those directly connected to it, are ahead in all elections. As in last yearʼs elections, the three-day voting period, and electronic voting in particular, offered clear opportunities to declare the “correct” result and turnout. Activity by the opposition typically means a higher turnout. In the 2017 Moscow district representative elections, despite the oppositionʼs success, the voter turnout was as low as 14%. Now, when electronic voting was used and the oppositionʼs campaigning largely eliminated, the official turnout was declared to be 33%.

14 September
Russia’s reasons for invading Ukraine ‘nonsense’, says ex-soldier
Pavel Filatyev, an ex-Russian soldier now seeking asylum in France, opens up about his experiences of life on the Ukrainian front lines.
(Al Jazeera) Stationed in Crimea, he saw firsthand a chronic shortage of equipment, the result of widespread corruption in the supply chain. The equipment that was there was old and worn out.
“I only received a bulletproof vest at the very last moment before crossing the border,” he said. “Everyone knows such incidents when 10 men are sent out with two helmets and bulletproof vests, and told to sort it out between themselves. The situation is so absurd that a lot of people are buying their own clothing, equipment, boots, before being sent to war.”

13 September
Ian Bremmer: Ukrainian counteroffensive leaves Putin with few good options
Ukraine has turned the tide on the war. That makes Russia even more dangerous.
Ukraine’s lightning counteroffensive in Kharkiv owed its success to two distinct factors. First, Russia has an acute manpower problem: its troops are outnumbered, poorly organized, exhausted, demoralized, and haven’t been rotated or replenished. Second, Ukrainian forces have received advanced weapons, training, and intelligence from NATO, and their morale is running high as they are fighting for their land and people.
… With its propaganda bubble starting to leak, Russia has also seen a resurgence in domestic opposition to the war and the regime, with separate city councils in Moscow and Saint Petersburg recently calling for Putin’s resignation. While both efforts will be promptly shut down by the police—merely calling the war a “war” is punishable by 15 years in prison—they signal a growing willingness to criticize the government in public.
What can Russia do next?
It could put more boots on the ground to fortify its positions and address the force imbalance in eastern and southern Ukraine, but it can’t do that without ordering at least a partial mobilization, which not only would force them to admit this is actually a war but also would be massively unpopular in Russia. Even if this wasn’t a hurdle, it would take several months to train and arm conscripts before they are combat-ready.
Despite Ukraine’s advances, Russia says mobilisation is not on the agenda
Putin’s Allies Laying Groundwork for Expanding War, Former Ambassador Says
A former U.S. diplomat to Russia warns that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most ardent allies are criticizing military efforts in Ukraine because they want aggression to escalate.
In recent days, Russian state TV personalities have openly lambasted the Russian military and questioned leadership up the power chain, all the way to the Kremlin. It has presented a change in tone since confidence levels were high when the invasion started on February 24.

Putin calls for calm as Azerbaijan and Armenia engage in deadliest clashes since 2020
Armenia, Azerbaijan trade blame for clashes
Putin trying to calm the situation, Kremlin says
Turkey pledges support for Azerbaijan
Intensity of fighting has decreased – Armenian PM
U.S. and France urge end to hostilities
(Reuters) – At least 49 Armenian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Azeris were killed on Tuesday in the deadliest fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia since a 2020 war, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to appeal for calm.
Armenia and Azerbaijan, neighbouring former Soviet states, blamed each other for the renewed fighting which began overnight at several points along their border, raising fears of another major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union while Russia’s military is tied up in Ukraine.
Putin ally falls into the sea, adding to list of mysterious deaths suffered by Russian energy bosses
(Business Insider) Ivan Pechorin’s body was found washed up around 100 miles from Vladivostok in Russia’s far east, on Monday after a two-day search, local outlet VL.ru reported.
Pechorin fell off his moving boat on September 10 as it sailed near Russky Island, the outlet reported. He was the Aviation Director for Russia’s Far East and Arctic Development Corporation (KRDV), which described his death as an “irreparable loss.” Ivan Pechorin has been described as an ally of Putin, who reportedly picked him for the role.
Pechorin is the latest in a string of unexplained deaths among Russian bosses.
Ivan Pechorin has been described as an ally of Putin, who reportedly picked him for the role.
Pechorin is the latest in a string of unexplained deaths among Russian bosses.

12 September
Diane Francis: Putin’s Waterloo
There’s reason to be optimistic that Ukraine will kick out Russia. … The invasion has been halted and reports are that Ukrainian counteroffensives are recapturing territory. Vladimir Putin’s army is outmaneuvered, and his extortion attempts toward Europe — cutting off its energy shipments and holding a nuclear plant hostage — have backfired. The European Union is united against Russia and just six months’ away from permanently replacing Russian energy. The United Nations demands the demilitarization of the lands around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to avert a meltdown. The tide has not turned yet, but, after 200 days of war, Putin falters and his biggest success has been to unite the West with Ukraine.
The only outlier in Europe is Hungary, an inconsequential nation run by a wanna-be Putin named Viktor Orban. But rhetoric in the rest of Europe is inflammatory toward Russia. …and its members mortgage their financial future to help Ukraine, and to subsidize their businesses and residents from food and energy inflation caused by Russia. They boost their armed forces, ship gobs of weaponry and cash to Ukraine, erect security fences along eastern borders, ban Russians from entry, and fast track membership for new nations who want to join the European Union (EU) as well as NATO.
Ukraine is now a de facto member of both organizations and the European Commission and World Bank just announced a gigantic Marshall Plan to rebuild the country once the war ends.

10-11 September
Kharkiv offensive: Ukrainian army says it has tripled retaken area
(BBC) The remarkable advance, if confirmed, means Kyiv’s forces have tripled their stated gains in little over 48 hours.
The BBC cannot verify the Ukrainian figures, and journalists have been denied access to the frontlines.
Russia’s defence ministry confirmed its forces’ retreat from Izyum itself and Kupiansk, which it said would allow them”to regroup” in territory held by Moscow-backed separatists.
… UK defence officials have warned that fighting has continued outside those towns. And officials in Kyiv said Ukrainian forces were still fighting to gain control of a number of settlements around Izyum.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast is routing Russian forces and collapsing Russia’s northern Donbas axis
(Institute for the Study of War) Ukrainian forces reportedly captured Velikiy Burluk on September 10, which would place Ukrainian forces within 15 kilometers of the international border. Ukrainian forces have penetrated Russian lines to a depth of up to 70 kilometers in some places and captured over 3,000 square kilometers of territory in the past five days since September 6 – more territory than Russian forces have captured in all their operations since April.
Ukrainian Offensive Seen as Reshaping the War’s Contours
The fall of the strategically important city of Izium, in Ukraine’s east, is the most devastating blow to Russia since its humiliating retreat from Kyiv.
(NYT) A lightning Ukrainian offensive in the country’s northeast has reshaped what had become a grinding war of attrition. In a matter of days, Russian front lines have buckled, Moscow’s troops have fled and one village after another has come once more beneath Ukraine’s yellow and blue banner.
Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that their troops had taken the eastern city of Izium, a strategically important railway hub that Russian forces seized in the spring after a bloody, weeks-long battle.

8 September
Ukraine energy chief: Russia trying to ‘steal’ nuclear plant
(AP) — The head of Ukraine’s atomic energy operator accused Russia on Thursday of trying to “steal” Europe’s largest nuclear plant by cutting it off from the Ukrainian electricity grid and leaving it on the brink of a radiation disaster.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been without an outside source of electricity since Monday and receives power for its own safety systems from the only one of its six reactors that remains operational, Enerhoatom chief Petro Kotin told The Associated Press.
“We are trying to keep this unit running as much as possible, but eventually it will have to be shut down and then the station will switch to diesel generators,” he said, adding that such generators are “the station’s last defense before a radiation accident.”

7 September
Ukraine launches surprise counterattack in Kharkiv region
Donetsk People’s Republic says Balakliia ‘encircled’ as Russia moots referendums in occupied territories
Ukraine has launched a surprise counterattack in the north-east Kharkiv region, stretching Russian forces who are also facing Ukrainian attacks in the south.
An official representing the Russian-controlled Donetsk People’s Republic said on Tuesday … “At this time, Balakliia is in operative encirclement and within the firing range of Ukrainian artillery. All approaches are cut off by fire,” he said, adding that a successful Ukrainian offensive would threaten Russian forces in Izium, a strategically important town that Russia has been using for its own offensive in eastern Ukraine”.
Putin threatens to tear up fragile Ukraine grain deal in bellicose speech
Vladimir Putin has said he wants to revise a fragile international agreement to allow the export of Ukrainian grain in a move that could threaten the deal and revive fears of a renewed Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea.
During a bellicose speech at an economic conference in Vladivostok, Putin said he would speak with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, about “limiting the destinations for grain exports”, issuing a false claim that only two of 87 ships leaving Ukraine with grain had gone to developing countries.
The divisive statements came during a speech in which Putin also threatened to cut off all deliveries of gas, oil, and coal to Europe if they imposed a price cap on Russian energy imports. Recalling a Russian fairytale, he said that Europeans could “freeze like the wolf’s tail”.

6 September
‘Nothing Has Really Changed’: In Moscow, the Fighting Is a World Away
(NYT) A detachment from the battle in Ukraine is exactly what President Vladimir V. Putin is counting on as he executes a domestic strategy of shielding Russians from the hardships of war — no draft, no mass funerals, no feelings of loss or conflict. Much of Russia’s effort on the battlefield has not gone as Mr. Putin had planned, but at home, he has mostly succeeded in making Russian life feel as normal as possible.
Russia’s army is now waging a slow-moving war that has left tens of thousands dead and contributed to global inflation and a surge in energy prices.
Very little about day-to-day life seems to have changed in Moscow, where people have the financial resources to weather significant price increases, unlike much of the rest of the country. GUM, the luxury mall next to Red Square, is full of shoppers — though many Western stores like Prada, Gucci and Christian Dior are closed — and restaurants and theaters do thriving business. Moscow’s roads still teem with luxury cars like Lamborghinis and Porsches.

5 September
The chips are down: Putin scrambles for high-tech parts as his arsenal goes up in smoke
List seen by POLITICO shows US and allies control chokepoint technologies sought by Moscow.
It’s the microchips that look set to get Vladimir Putin in the end. Six months into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia is being throttled by a severe technology deficit inflicted by sanctions.
Having fired off (or lost in combat) way more of their missile firepower than they originally anticipated, Moscow’s soldiers are now increasingly relying on ancient stocks of primitive Soviet-era munitions while Western-armed Ukrainian forces are battling to turn the tide in a southern counteroffensive with pinpoint strikes on munition dumps and key infrastructure such as bridges.
Kyiv is acutely aware that the outcome of the war is likely to hinge on whether Russia finds a way to regain access to high-tech chips, and is out to ensure it doesn’t get them. In order to flag the danger, Ukraine is sending out international warnings that the Kremlin has drawn up shopping lists of semiconductors, transformers, connectors, casings, transistors, insulators and other components, most made by companies in the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., Taiwan and Japan, among others, which it needs to fuel its war effort.

3 September
Gorbachev buried in Moscow in funeral snubbed by Putin
(AP) Saturday’s ceremony had all the trappings befitting a state funeral except the name, including the national flag draping Gorbachev’s coffin. with goose-stepping guards firing shots in the air and a small band playing the Russian anthem, which uses the same melody as the Soviet anthem.
But officially declaring a state funeral for Gorbachev would have obliged Putin to attend it and would have required Moscow to invite foreign leaders, something that it was apparently reluctant to do amid soaring tensions with the West after Russia sent troops to Ukraine.

2 September
Nord Stream 1: Gazprom announces indefinite shutdown of pipeline
Russian energy company had been due to resume gas delivery to Germany on Saturday morning
The move came hours after G7 countries agreed to impose a price cap on Russian oil in an attempt to stem the flow of funds to Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Gazprom, the state-owned oil and gas firm, said supplies would remain halted indefinitely after a leak was detected. It said the pipeline would not restart until repairs were fully implemented.
Nord Stream 1 is the single biggest pipeline for gas from Russia to Europe. Continued supplies through the pipeline are seen as crucial to prevent a deepening of the energy crisis.
G7 countries agree plan to impose price cap on Russian oil
Aim is to cut revenues for Moscow’s war in Ukraine but keep crude flowing to avoid price rises
A potential new snag for Putin: The retreat of Jack Frost
By David Von Drehle
(WaPo) After more than six months of fighting — with extreme brutality and waste, at a cost of thousands of troops, legions of officers and an enormous supply of armor — Russia heads toward winter on its heels. Other than destruction and death, Putin has nothing to show for the largest invasion of European territory in nearly 80 years.
Winter has been Russia’s great strategic asset in previous wars, literally freezing the ambitions of Napoleon and Hitler in their tracks on the long road to Moscow. The season has become Putin’s last hope for salvaging an outcome in Ukraine that he might call victory. If voters in Germany, Italy and other Western countries get cold enough without the Russian gas they rely on for their heaters, they could force their governments to back away from NATO’s unified support for Zelensky.
New long-range forecasts strongly suggest that Europe is headed toward a generally mild winter. La Nina, a change in atmospheric patterns associated with the cooling of surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific Ocean, will most likely deliver warmer-than-normal temperatures to most of the continent. This would reduce the strain on natural gas supplies — though it certainly won’t end the need for sacrifice and resolve.

1 September
Russia’s Conspiracy-Theory Factory Is Swaying a Brand-New Audience
RT is banned in the US and Europe—but winning friends in the developing world.
By Clara Ferreira Marques
(Bloomberg) Its direct viewership was always modest. But the disruptive conspiracy theories pushed by its hosts—including questioning official accounts of the Sept. 11 attacks and claiming the Ukrainian government was riddled with Nazis—energized the political fringes in Europe and North America. It appealed equally to partisans of the hard right and hard left, united by their skepticism of establishment politics. …
The European Union banned RT shortly after the Ukraine invasion began in late February, in response to what it said was a Russian campaign of “disinformation, information manipulation and distortion of facts.” The UK soon followed suit, while US TV carriers canceled its distribution deals. YouTube, vital for amplifying its videos, suspended RT’s accounts, citing a policy to prohibit “content denying, minimizing, or trivializing well-documented violent events.” Still, RT remains alive and well, serving Russia’s effort to muddy the picture of what’s really going on in Ukraine. … it’s become a key part of the Kremlin’s strategy to blunt the impact of sanctions by winning friends in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—places where news is consumed primarily through social media and most governments have no particular animus toward Putin.

A Russian Oil Executive Dies Under Murky Circumstances
The chairman of Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil company, fell to his death from a sixth-floor hospital window in Moscow.
(NYT) In March, Lukoil took an unusual stance among Russian businesses by calling for a “fast resolution” to the invasion of Ukraine, distancing itself from the official Kremlin line.
The statement, from the board of directors, headed by Mr. Maganov, expressed the company’s “deepest concerns about the tragic events in Ukraine” and called for “the soonest termination of the armed conflict.”
Factbox: Russian businessmen who have died in unexplained circumstances
(Reuters) – Ravil Maganov, chairman of Russian oil company Lukoil, became the latest in a series of businessmen to meet with sudden unexplained deaths when he fell from a hospital window in Moscow on Thursday

30 August
Putin to snub Gorbachev funeral due to work schedule
Russian president lays wreath at hospital where Soviet leader died but will not attend service, Kremlin says
Masha Gessen: Mikhail Gorbachev, the Fundamentally Soviet Man
(The New Yorker) Gorbachev was that rare sort of politician who acted on the belief that the world and the people in it—including himself—can be better than they often appear to be. The ultimate tragedy of his political life is that, for the past twenty-three years, Russia has been ruled by the opposite sort of politician. Vladimir Putin believes humanity to be rotten to its core, and all of his acts, in one way or another, are designed to validate this world view.
Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Reformist Soviet Leader, Is Dead at 91
Adopting principles of glasnost and perestroika, he weighed the legacy of seven decades of Communist rule and set a new course, presiding over the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.
Mikhail S. Gorbachev, whose rise to power in the Soviet Union set in motion a series of revolutionary changes that transformed the map of Europe and ended the Cold War that had threatened the world with nuclear annihilation, has died in Moscow.
Few leaders in the 20th century, indeed in any century, have had such a profound effect on their time. In little more than six tumultuous years, Mr. Gorbachev lifted the Iron Curtain, decisively altering the political climate of the world.
Putin, world react to death of Gorbachev, who helped end the Cold War
(Politico) He’s seen by Western nations as the man who restored democracy to then-communist-ruled European countries, and brought an end to the Cold War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. But at home in Russia, he’s viewed as the one who caused the dissolution of the USSR, which saw a loss of power and pride for the nation and created 15 new breakaway countries.
“It was easy to understand why so many worldwide held him in such high esteem,” President Biden said.
Ian Bremmer: Mikhail Gorbachev Outlived His Legacy
Perhaps the truest tragedy of a statesman is when you outlive your legacy, and perhaps nothing could be more true of Gorbachev. President, and now indeed dictator, of Russia, Vladimir Putin has said that he views Soviet collapse as the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century. And he has devoted his time in office, first and foremost, to reviving a Russian empire. And Russia today in 2022 is precisely the opposite of everything Gorbachev had hoped it would be. We’re all the worst for that. And most of all, the Russians themselves.
Jeremy Kinsman: What Gorbachev Did, for All of Us
(Policy Magazine) In one hundred years, if the world is still alive and relatively well, Mikhail Gorbachev will be remembered as a colossal figure who changed the world by bringing the citizens of the Soviet Union out of their traumatizing and terrible twentieth century. Though a convinced socialist, he ended communism.
Gorbachev…introduced his fellow citizens to freedom.
He ended the Cold War. A man of peace, he sought a “common European home.” He enabled the United Nations Security Council to function cooperatively for a brief few years the way it had been roughly conceived by its idealistic post-war founders, who had constructed the UN from the ashes of World War II in the spirit of “never again.”
(CBC) A Great Man Goes Down: Mikhail Gorbachev RIP

29-30 August
Ukraine has hobbled Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Could it turn the tide of the war?
The fleet and its air wing have been battered by Ukrainian missile and drone attacks, turning the once-feared force into something of an afterthought.
Since the spring, the Black Sea Fleet’s problems have added up, the result of poor leadership, aging equipment, and a hubris the Ukrainians have been only too happy to exploit.
Ukrainian adviser warns progress will be slow as southern counterattack begins
Zelenskiy aide claims troops have broken through Russian defences in several areas of frontline near Kherson
Ukraine lures Russian missiles with decoys of U.S. rocket system
(WaPo) Ukraine may be outgunned but in the latest sign it is not yet outfoxed, a fleet of decoys resembling advanced U.S. rocket systems has tricked Russian forces into wasting expensive long-range cruise missiles on dummy targets….
Ukrainian Counteroffensive Underway in Kherson Region
By Kyiv Post.
Having repeatedly announced plans for a counterattack on Kherson, it seems that today the Ukrainian army has begun implementing orders to liberate the South of Ukraine from Russian occupiers.
According to an operational group of Ukrainian troops, “Kakhovka,” on August 29, the Armed Forces of Ukraine broke through the occupying force’s first line of defense near Kherson, and the 109th DPR regiment withdrew from its positions. Russian paratroopers, who were the DPR regiment’s support, also fled the battlefield.
If wishes were horses… This seems overly optimistic.
Diane Francis: Russia Has Lost the War
Subtle, telltale signs emerge that Vladimir Putin may have won a few military battles in Ukraine, but he’s lost the war to resurrect the USSR.
As internal dissension bubbles up, Moscow is being cut adrift geopolitically as the global narrative shifts in Ukraine’s favor, mostly because the war is genocide and because the Russian occupation of a gigantic Ukrainian nuclear plant has alarmed everyone on the planet. Last week, China spoke against this nuclear brinkmanship, and India voted against Russia at the United Nations’ Security Council for the first time after abstaining for months and refusing to condemn the invasion.
Currently, the conflict resembles a World War I stalemate. Russia has 20 per cent of Ukraine, and continues to pummel the place, but Ukraine is clawing back territory and is weeks away from closing its skies to Russian missiles, artillery, and bombs, thanks to technology obtained from NATO members. Kyiv continues to receive a flood of advanced weaponry that is being put to good use while Russia’s store of missiles and armaments has depleted and not being replaced. Politically inside Russia, the sand shifts beneath Putin’s feet because Russian casualties are horrendous.
It’s safe to assume that all Russians now know, despite censorship in Russia and a crackdown on all dissent, that Putin’s promise of a quick war was unfulfilled and probably impossible. They also know first-hand about the cost of economic sanctions, the departure of Western firms and jobs from their country, and that Putin’s armed forces are a huge embarrassment.
…Putin’s latest gambit to seize Europe’s biggest nuclear plant in Ukraine as a bargaining chip or to hold the region hostage has clearly backfired and cost him global support…
Putin’s nuclear stunt emboldened the British, French and German leaders who last week proclaimed their long-term support for Ukraine. Their electorates are frightened about the nuclear threat and also angry because their economies are being damaged by Russia’s energy blackmail. Most importantly, Zelensky has clearly outflanked his rival by articulating and contextualizing the struggle brilliantly: “The battle for the future of Europe is being fought in Ukraine”.

IAEA team to inspect Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant this week
(Reuters) The United Nations and Ukraine have called for a withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the plant to ensure it is not a target in the conflict.
The IAEA tweeted separately that the mission would assess physical damage, evaluate the conditions in which staff are working at the plant and “determine functionality of safety & security systems”.

28 August
Nick Cohen: Would Russia change if Putin died tomorrow?
(The Spectator) Putin will leave a sick country that ought to be yearning for change. The myth that Russia is a military superpower, which did so much to intimidate its neighbours, lies broken amid the burned-out ammunition dumps. Putin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine provoked Finland and Sweden to join Nato. His aggression has reinvigorated the West and pushed it into supplying Ukraine with advanced weaponry. Russia is poorer, weaker and looking to a future as a Chinese client state condemned to pay homage to the Middle Kingdom as it once paid homage to the Mongol empire.
But just suppose he’s gone by tomorrow. According to Orlando Figes’ The Story of Russia (out this week from Bloomsbury) the chances of the Ukraine disaster pushing Russia towards liberalism when Putin belatedly takes his leave of us vary from the faint to the non-existent.

26 August
At least 21 ​​’filtration​​​’ sites identified in Russian-controlled ​​territory, say Yale researchers
(CNN) Researchers at Yale University ​say they have uncovered 21 “​filtration” sites in the Russian-controlled territory of Donetsk ​in eastern Ukraine.
The ​researchers say these ​sites are used by Russian forces ​and their allies to process, register, interrogate and detain Ukrainians trying to ​leave Russian-occupied territory. ​Those detained can include civilians and prisoners of war.
“The conditions reported by those released from the facilities examined here can constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international humanitarian and human rights law,” the study says, adding that the “conditions include overcrowded facilities, a lack of access to adequate sanitation, insufficient food and clean water, exposure to the elements, denial of medical care, and the use of isolation.”
“In some specific instances, the treatment described as having been endured by those released, such as use of electric shocks, extreme conditions of isolation, and physical assault, may potentially constitute torture if proven,” the study says.

26 August
Russia a strategic challenge for NATO in arctic, Stoltenberg says
(Reuters) – Russia’s capabilities in the North are a strategic challenge for NATO, its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday, welcoming Canada’s recently announced investments in North American defense systems after making his first visit to the Canadian arctic.
“The importance of the high North is increasing for NATO and for Canada because we see a significant Russian military buildup,” Stoltenberg said, standing alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Cold Lake, Alberta.
Masha Gessen: The Mysterious Murder of Darya Dugina
Whoever killed Dugina likely meant to kill her more famous father, but that reveals little about the motives and identities of the perpetrators.
Two days after the car bomb went off, the F.S.B. announced that it had solved the case. The secret police pointed to a Ukrainian military officer, Nataliya Vovk, as the murderer. According to the prosecution’s story, Vovk entered Russia by car—a gray Mini Cooper—with her twelve-year-old daughter, and rented an apartment in the same building as Dugina. She was able to trace her victim’s every move. Once the remotely operated car bomb went off, Vovk, according to the F.S.B., changed the license plates on her car and left the country via the land crossing to Estonia. The F.S.B. has claimed that Vovk is a colonel in the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian Army. The Azov Regiment has disavowed the existence of such an officer, but that’s not the only issue with this story: anyone who has crossed Russian land borders knows that getting in and out in a car is usually a long, involved process. It’s nearly impossible to imagine that a Ukrainian citizen slipped in or out with fake license plates. Also, the F.S.B. has never been known to solve a political murder in a couple of days—or, really, at all.

24 August
Ukraine’s Path to Peace: From a Day that Will Live in Infamy to Never Again
Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine was launched not only to subjugate a democratic neighbour through military aggression but to destabilize the existing international order. Six months later, the reality both on the ground and in global perception is quite different. Veteran diplomat Jeremy Kinsman, who served as Canada’s ambassador to Russia, lays out the terms for a negotiated peace.
(Policy) The invasion has turned out badly for Russia. It has devastated but united Ukraine, re-energized NATO’s collective security solidarity and deepened global economic woes.
As neither side is likely to win an all-out victory, there is no end in sight, especially since no signs have yet emerged of a mutually acceptable negotiated settlement. Logic and history nonetheless predict that mutual recognition of the costs of stalemate will encourage a ceasefire and then a likely-protracted negotiation. But the two sides are not there yet, each apparently believing its situation on the ground could improve. Ukraine is mounting a counter-offensive in the South, to retake Kherson and protect access to the Black Sea. But longer wars increase in violence and the risk of escalation rises

23 August
Six months, twenty-three lessons: What the world has learned from Russia’s war in Ukraine
By Atlantic Council experts
Our experts break down how this conflict has transformed not only military operations and strategy, but also diplomacy, intelligence, national security, energy security, economic statecraft, and much more. The results, an illuminating and wide-ranging primer for policymakers and the public alike.
Six months on, the Russia-Ukraine war mapped out
In six months, Russia has seized more than a fifth of Ukrainian territory, with regions such as Luhansk now under its occupation. This report uses maps and satellite imagery to break down key events of the war.

22 August
Russia pounds Ukraine, Zelenskiy warns of attacks ahead of Independence Day
Ukraine independence day also marks six months since invasion
(Reuters) – Russian forces pressed on with their offensive across several Ukrainian regions on Monday, while President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned of the potential for more serious attacks ahead of Ukraine’s 31st anniversary of independence from Soviet rule.
Artillery shells rained down on Nikopol, a city near Zaporizhzhia – Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, while missiles struck near the Black Sea port of Odesa over the weekend.

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