If half of what has been reported today is true, the Ukrainians have taken back a lot of what they've lost during the summer, all in a few days. Disarray among the Russians. Hope news of this reaches every corner of Russia so the population understands what Putin and his yes-men has led them into. And what a waste it has all been.
Is it possible that there's an element of sabotage from within the Russian command chain? Retreating in the hope that it will contribute to the war ending sooner, while masquerading that it is for tactical reasons?
Ukraine played this perfectly. Talk about the south, send out warnings to Crimea, hit targets there. russians pour troops and equipment to the south. Ukraine destroys bridges, command centers, ammo dumps (thanks HIMARS) effectively trapping them all there from a strategic point of view, then attack the weak points in the north, liberate close to 2,000 sq km of territory, capture tons of equipment, and according to reports are attacking the airport at Donetsk with ground troops. The russians have nothing there except poorly trained reservists and poorly equipped separatists. The route is on and I hope they can keep pushing until every russian/russian allied military unit in Ukraine is captured, dead, or fleeing back to russia with toilets and dishwashers in hand no doubt.
They've almost kicked the Russians back to the border, and there's reports that the Ukrainians may have crossed the border in places. Incredible stuff, huge counteroffensive. When this war started, Russia had the ability to do four major offensives. Now they can't do more than one thing, and Ukraine can do at least two.
I've seen reports that the Ukrainians are using western supplied tanks (Leopard 2s) as their spearhead, and that is a huge upgrade over the T-72s normally in stock. Incredible stuff. Well done Ukraine. Keep going.
Meanwhile, Germany still "we won't give tanks to Ukraine". Beyond pathetic, if you ask me. If there would be no USA and Great Britain, Ukraine would be slaughtered already. Many russian agents of influence in Germany. SLAVA UKRAINI!
Edit: If I am correct, POLAND gave to Ukraine around 200 tanks.
Die Rufe nach Kampf- und Schützenpanzern aus Deutschland an die Ukraine werden immer lauter. Nun hat der Rüstungskonzern Rheinmetall 16 Marder-Panzer instand gesetzt - doch es fehlt die Ausfuhrgenehmigung. Von Martin Schmidt.
Alla Pugacheva against the Kremlin – Russia's war also politicizes pop stars
(Source: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Sep 19;
She is a living legend of Soviet popular music, he is a popular comedian: Alla Pugacheva and Maxim Galkin cause a stir with their political messages. Opponents of the war hope for a broad impact.
The war that Russia is waging against Ukraine has also caught up with Pugacheva. A publication of her on Instagram with a clear political orientation provoked violent reactions at the weekend - at least among the officials and propagandists as well as the intellectual opponents of the regime. The latter are counting on the effect that Pugacheva, the idol of generations of those who grew up in the Soviet Union, is still having on the otherwise politically apathetic population.
Instagram is blocked in Russia and can only be reached via detours; the parent company Meta is classified as an extremist organization. But the singer has over three million followers, and several hundred thousand users wrote comments – often in agreement – or gave a heart.
Maxim Galkin, her husband, did not mince his words. He openly condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine and in a short video at Easter he criticized the hypocrisy of the powerful. [...] On Friday, the Russian Ministry of Justice declared Galkin a "foreign agent," a branding that has meanwhile been foisted on people who, from the regime's point of view, hold "wrong" positions. He was said to have been politically active in favor of Ukraine. Pugacheva wrote to the Ministry of Justice asking her to be included in the ranks of "foreign agents". For she agrees with her husband, an honest and righteous man. He wished his homeland peace, freedom of speech and that the Russian "guys" didn't have to die for illusory goals. These made the country a pariah and made life difficult for the citizens.
Pugacheva and Galkin's statements might be taken for granted, but they are not. Both artists never positioned themselves as oppositional, even if Pugacheva occasionally offended in Soviet times. She later got involved in Boris Yeltsin's re-election campaign and in Putin's "Public Chamber," an institution imitating civil society. In 2011 she supported the – initially tolerated – presidential candidacy of liberal entrepreneur and patron Mikhail Prokhorov. Galkin cultivates a satire that is directed against everyone and thus does not separate the regime from its opponents.
The opponents of the war therefore see Pugacheva's statement in particular as a sign of the break between the popular culture world, which has been pampered by the Kremlin for years, and the regime. Events are slipping away more and more – on the battlefield, but also on the “home front”. In recent months, politicians have repeatedly complained about the lack of interest in the cultural world for the "special operation". In contrast, the classification of popular artists like Galkin as "agents of foreign countries" seems helpless and ridiculous.
The attention paid to the two stars encouraged some commentators to think even more far-reaching: In Galkin they see a possible future Russian president - and negotiating partner of the Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The two know each other: At the turn of the year 2013/14, shortly before Russia and Ukraine definitely fell out, the comedians shared the New Year's program on Russian television.
Partial mobilization in Russia
SRF correspondent Nauer: "A blatant verbal provocation"
(source: www.srf.ch; Google translated)
Almost seven months after the start of the war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia has ordered a partial mobilization of the army. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin said 300,000 reservists would be called up immediately to solve the personnel problems at the front in Ukraine. For the former SRF correspondent in Russia, David Nauer, Putin's nuclear threat, which was also expressed, is a "blatant verbal provocation".
SRF News: What does the partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists mean in concrete terms?
David Nauer: Not really much at first. Russia has too few troops at the front, which is why the Ukrainians managed to liberate the country in the past few weeks.
It will be weeks before the reservists show up at the front in Ukraine.
Putin wants to plug these "holes" at the front, but that will take time: the reservists first have to be drafted, then armed and trained. It will be weeks before they show up on the front lines in Ukraine.
How does Putin justify the need to take the step in front of his own people?
He portrays Russia as a victim: the West wants to destroy Russia and has incited Ukraine to go to war against Russia. According to Putin, Kyiv not only does not want to conduct negotiations, the Ukrainian government even wants to acquire nuclear weapons.
Putin says it's not just a war against Ukraine, it's a war against NATO and the West.
Implicitly, Putin says: It's not just a war against Ukraine, it's a war against NATO and the West. That is why this partial mobilization is needed.
In the areas in eastern Ukraine annexed by Moscow, referendums on joining Russia are to be held at the end of the week. How do these sham referendums relate to Putin's latest announcement?
The worrying thing is that Putin said Russia will recognize these referendums – which will be pseudo-votes with a predetermined outcome – and annex the territories. After that, Russia will ward off any attack on its territory "by any means".
Putin is counting on Ukrainians and Europeans becoming afraid of a nuclear war.
So Putin is saying that Russia is now annexing these Ukrainian territories and that if the Ukrainians try to retake them, all weapons will be used, possibly nuclear bombs too. That's a blatant verbal escalation. Putin is building up a threatening backdrop and is counting on Ukrainians and Europeans becoming afraid of a nuclear war – a kind of psychological blackmail. It is not known whether Putin is actually considering using nuclear weapons - but it is certainly a very dangerous threat.
Is there a threat of nuclear weapons being used? The West should not allow itself to be blackmailed by Russia
(Source: Neue Zürcher Zeitung; Google translated)
The military successes of the Ukrainians are not only cause for celebration. In the West, they also raise concerns that a cornered Russia could use nuclear weapons. The Kremlin has every reason to fuel these fears.
"There must be no nuclear war." Five months ago, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz used this emotional argument to justify Berlin's refusal to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine. As you know, things turned out differently. Scholz made a U-turn; the feared nuclear retaliation by Russia did not materialize. Despite this, the warnings of a nuclear escalation in the Ukraine war have not ceased.
They recently received a boost from the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kharkiv province. Now the scenario that Russia could lose all conquered territories is suddenly no longer a pipe dream. The argument of the nuclear warners is that President Putin could not possibly accept such a humiliation because it would endanger the survival of his regime. He will therefore resort to nuclear weapons if necessary.
Means of intimidation
Such a horror scenario cannot be dismissed lightly, but its probability is probably greatly overestimated. This has to do with two reasons. For one thing, Russia's leaders have no interest in allaying these fears. On the contrary, these are a means of strengthening those voices in Western Europe that would rather see a compromise with the Kremlin than a clear Ukrainian victory. Moscow is therefore deliberately leaving the threat in the air.
At times there were reassuring signals from the top of the state; Putin himself said that a nuclear war was pointless, and in the spring his spokesman ruled out the use of nuclear weapons as part of the "special operation" in Ukraine. In his speech on Wednesday about the partial mobilization in Russia, however, Putin quite openly threatened to defend his country's territorial integrity "with all available means".
At the same time, the Kremlin is making little effort to rein in state television propagandists who are wallowing in fantasies of nuclear war. Former President Medvedev, who has taken on the role of hardliner, has also repeatedly made threatening remarks about Russia's nuclear arsenal. Such rhetoric is irresponsible, but the calculus behind it is transparent.
On the other hand, the logic of the argument that Putin could save his power with nuclear weapons is flawed. Too little consideration is given to what such an operation would achieve. The idea is shaped by the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which almost immediately resulted in the unconditional surrender of Japan. However, this parallel is misleading.
The current debate is mostly about so-called tactical nuclear weapons with much lower explosive power. These would not destroy entire cities, but would serve, for example, to eliminate a Ukrainian military base or an important infrastructure object. In purely military terms, Russia would achieve no more than it could achieve through intensive bombing with conventional weapons.
A breach of taboo that must result in a new policy
The crucial difference would be psychological and political. In front of the whole world, Putin crossed a threshold; he was breaking a taboo that was widely considered unacceptable. The Ukrainians feel encouraged that Russia is pursuing a genocidal policy. Countries like India, which have been tackling up to now, would probably switch to the sanctions camp. Western efforts to outlaw Russia gained momentum. Putin's chances of saving his power would thus decrease rather than increase.
Nevertheless, the probability of a nuclear escalation is greater than zero. Russia's military doctrine envisages a nuclear first strike only in the event that central government facilities have been attacked or even the existence of the country is at stake - i.e. only in extreme emergencies. But America and Europe should take precautions.
It is important to make it very clear to Putin that he would harm himself with a nuclear act of horror. Washington, London, Berlin and Paris, for example, could signal that in such a scenario they would fundamentally change course – from a policy of supporting Kiev to a strategy of overthrowing the regime in Moscow. Because Putin is not a lunatic who would delight in a nuclear apocalypse. He can be trusted to rationally weigh up what will benefit his position of power and what will only cause him greater distress.