As world leaders gathered in New York to condemn him, Russian President Vladimir Putin was back at home, scrambling to replenish his depleted war machine.
Sergey Lavrov, his foreign minister, was conspicuously absent as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a blistering soliloquy to the UN Security Council, documenting what he called Russia’s war crimes since February.
“The war ends if Russia stops fighting.” “If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends,” Blinken said, promising that the US would continue to support Ukraine.
According to CNN’s Katie Bo Lillis, Putin is giving direct orders to generals in the field, indicating a level of micromanagement uncommon in modern warfare and evidence of the Russian military’s dysfunction that the Ukraine war has exposed.
According to Lillis, “there are significant disagreements on strategy, with military leaders struggling to agree on where to focus their efforts to shore up defensive lines.” Continue reading Lillis’ report.
The cost to Russia has been well documented, but new reports of military intrusion into its citizens and prisons suggest a new chapter of militarization.
Putin advertised the “partial mobilization” in a speech as focusing on reservists with prior military experience. However, the fine print of his written decree raised concerns about whether any able-bodied person could be compelled to wear uniform.
“The ultimate significance of the apparent discrepancy is not yet clear,” CNN’s international team noted. And it remains to be seen if the Kremlin has the appetite for a wider mobilization across the general civilian population.”
Some Russians appear to be uninterested in waiting to see how far the mobilization will go.
CNN Travel reported a surge in demand for flights out of Russia. Long lines of traffic at Russia’s land borders suggested that people were fleeing into Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Mongolia.
In an essay for CNN Opinion, Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of several books on Russia’s political and social history, wrote, “(Putin) has de facto declared war on the domestic front – not only on the opposition and civil society, but on the male population of Russia.” Continue reading Kolesnikov’s viewpoint.
According to CNN’s Brad Lendon, simply forcing people into the military will not solve Putin’s problems. The depleted Russian military lacks the training capacity and supplies to train that many people.
Lendon cited the open-source intelligence website Oryx, which documents Russia’s loss of more than 6,300 vehicles, including 1,168 tanks, since the fighting began.
Nadya Tolokonnikova is a Russian dissident and a founding member of the activist and artist collective Pussy Riot. She spent two years in a Russian prison and said on CNN on Thursday that opposing Putin will only become more difficult.
While the news from Russia appears to be very bad for Putin, and the news from Ukraine indicates that the Ukrainian military continues to outperform all expectations, it is still difficult to imagine a change of leadership there.
He is entrenched, as we have previously stated, until the government turns on him.
In democracies, where leaders come and go, this is not the case. As a result, it is worth keeping an eye on another geopolitical story emerging from the UN meeting in New York, which may ultimately be one of the fragilities of Western democracies.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned of the crisis in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in the United States. “I think we have [a] big crisis of democracies, of what I would call liberal democracies. Let’s be clear about that. Why? First, because being open societies and being open and very cooperative democracies put pressure on your people. It could destabilize them,” Macron said.
According to CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, Macron’s remarks “echoed President Joe Biden’s broad effort to frame the global competition of the twenty-first century as one defined by democracies versus autocracies.”