Worse for Russia

News of the war has gotten worse for Vladimir Putin over the past two weeks.

Russia’s recent problems began when Ukrainian forces recapture the northeastern parts of the country in the most successful counterattack of the seven-month war. Since then, Russian struggles have evolved:

  • Putin yesterday took a step that he resisted and call up 300,000 troops, mostly former soldiers. Doing so forced him to admit, at least implicitly, that the fight had not gone as well as he had hoped. Mobilization is “necessary and urgent”, Putin said in a speech on national television, because the West has “crossed all limits” by supplying Ukraine with weapons.

  • As The Times reported: “After being primarily defensive for many months, Ukraine is now commanding the war, choosing where it wants to unleash new offensive behaviour.” Russia is on the defensive.

  • Russia’s failures in Ukraine have encouraged a small number of dissidents to speak out. More than 40 local voters have signed a petition demanding Putin’s resignation. A Russian pop star has Criticize the War with her 3.4 million Instagram followers. Yesterday, Russian police detained more than 1,200 protesters; In Moscow, the crowd shouted: “Put Putin down in the trenches!”

  • Some Putin supporters also became frustrated and called for a more active war effort. My colleague Anton Troianovski, The Times’ Moscow bureau chief, says that some of these hawks are particularly worried about unsolved assassination Daria Dugina, a pro-Putin TV commentator, on the outskirts of Moscow last month, saw her killing as a sign of Putin’s weakness. These hawks were even more alarmed by the staggering retreat of Russian troops in northeastern Ukraine this month, Anton said.

  • During his face-to-face meeting last week with Xi Jinping, China’s leader, Putin acknowledged that China has “Questions and concerns” about war. Commentaries suggest that Russia’s most important global ally has become less comfortable with the war.

  • India, which has longstanding military ties with Russia, has also become more important. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, told Mr. Putin at a recent meeting: “Today there is no war. By contrast, India’s displeasure gives China more reason to worry about the war: If India moves closer to the United States and Western Europe diplomatically, it will create a stronger bloc to counter it. the rise of China.

These developments help explain why Putin chose to deploy more troops.

For months, he resisted doing so, partly out of concern that the move would increase public opposition to the war. Putin adapted his previous public comments to downplaying the war sometimes, and polls show that many Russians don’t care much about it. He still refuses to issue a full military draft, even though yesterday’s order was so broad that he was able to expand it eventually.

Western officials call this move an act of desperation and note that Russia can take months to train and equip its troops. But Julian Barnes, head of intelligence services in Washington for The Times, says the troop deployment does help solve one of Russia’s biggest military problems. “Russia has the equipment, but no manpower,” says Julian. “Ukraine has the manpower but no equipment.”

Julian added: “The potential countermeasure for the West is to send more artillery tubes and tanks to Ukraine.”

The US, EU and other allies have sent billions of dollars in weapons to Ukraine. Those weapons, especially the longer-range and shoulder-fired missiles, have been very useful. President Biden, speaking at the United Nations yesterdayannounced this support while also warning Putin not to use nuclear weapons.

However, the leaders of Ukraine say that they need additional equipment to force Russian troops out of the country. The Biden administration has asked Congress for more funding for Ukraine.

One question is whether the US is more willing to send longer-range missiles and more modern tanks to Ukraine than its allies. sent before. So far, the West has chosen not, partly out of a desire to avoid making Putin believe that an invasion of Russia is justifiable. In that scenario, Putin could choose to escalate his attacks. However, without more tanks, Ukraine could be at a military disadvantage.

Amid all Russia’s problems, has anything been going well for Putin lately?

“Militarily, not much has changed since the summer, when Russia took control of most of the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine,” Julian said. “That said, the Russian economy is doing better than expected. Sanctions don’t quite bring things to a halt. High energy prices mean they can keep the economy going and drive discontent down. But will partial mobilization relieve that unrest? “.

  • The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points and signaled More increases coming.

  • Rate increase can lead to more unemployment and slower economic growth. “We want to act aggressively now and get this work done,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said.

  • “In fact, Powell seems to be begging investors not to buy stocks,” noted The Times’ Ben Casselman. The market followed suit: The S&P 500 index fell 1.7%.

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