Reports of Putin’s problems are mounting

By the time world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York to condemn him, Russian President Vladimir Putin was back home, struggling to replenish his exhausted war machine.

His Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was notably absent when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a bitter monologue before the UN Security Council, documenting what he described as war crimes by Russia since February.

“If Russia stops fighting, the war will end. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine will end,” Blinken said, pledging that the US would maintain its growing support for Ukraine.

Russia’s military splits as Putin gets directly involved

CNN’s Katie Bo Lillis reported Thursday that Putin is directing orders to generals on the ground, suggesting a level of micromanagement rare in modern warfare and evidence of the Russian military dysfunction that the Ukraine war has exposed.

“There is significant disagreement over strategy, with military leaders struggling to agree on where to focus their efforts to shore up defense lines, multiple sources familiar with U.S. intelligence said,” Lillis said. Read more of Lillis’ report.

Which Russians will this mobilization affect?

The cost to Russia is well documented, but these new reports of intrusions on its citizens and prisons herald a new chapter in militarization.

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In a speech, Putin advocated “partial mobilization”. focuses on reservists with previous military experience. But the fine print of his written decree raised the question of whether an able-bodied person could be forced to wear a uniform.

CNN’s international team noted, “The ultimate meaning of the apparent discrepancy is not yet clear. And it remains to be seen whether the Kremlin has an appetite for a broader mobilization of the general civilian population.”

There are signs that some Russians are not interested in waiting to see how far mobilization will go.

CNN Travel reported an increase in interest in flights from Russia. Photos of long traffic lines at Russia’s land borders suggest people are fleeing the country to Kazakhstan, Georgia and Mongolia.

Bring more Russians to war

“(Putin) has de facto declared war on the internal front — not just the opposition and civil society, but also the male population of Russia,” wrote Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of several books on the political and Social History of Russia, in an essay for CNN Opinion. Read more of Kolesnikov’s attitude.

Russia cannot support new troops

Simply forcing people into the military will not solve Putin’s problems, according to a sharp analysis by CNN’s Brad Lendon. The exhausted Russian military does not have the training capacity or the supplies for that many people.

“If they face Ukrainian weapons on the front line,” Lendon wrote of the drafts, “they will likely become the latest victims of the invasion that Putin launched more than seven months ago and in which the Russian military has failed in almost every aspect of modern war.” .”

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Lendon quoted the open-source intelligence website Oryx, which uses casualties confirmed only by photo or video evidence, to document Russia’s loss of more than 6,300 vehicles, including 1,168 tanks, since the fighting began.

Dissidents see progress

Nadya Tolokonnikova is the Russian dissident and founding member of the activist and artist group Pussy Riot. She spent two years in a Russian prison and told CNN on Thursday it will only get harder for the Russians to stand up to Putin.

“I know well the price of protests in Putin’s Russia. And that price is rising by the day as Putin grows more uncomfortable with his position in the geopolitical arena.”

But she said the movement against him is growing.

“People who oppose Putin have real power and that is the reason for Putin’s repression on us,” she said. “We build (a) alternative Russia with values ​​different from Putin’s values. We want to be part of western civilization.”

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crisis of democracies

While the news from Russia looks very bad for Putin and the news from Ukraine suggests that the Ukrainian military continues to exceed all expectations, a change in leadership there is still difficult to imagine.

He’s holed up, as we’ve written here before, until the government turns against him.

The same is not true in democracies, where leaders come and go. So it’s worth watching another geopolitical story from the UN meeting in New York as well can ultimately be one of the fragility of western democracies.

In an exclusive US interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of this crisis.

“I think we have [a] great crisis of democracies, what I would call liberal democracies. Let’s be clear about that. Why? First, because open societies and open and very cooperative democracies put pressure on your people. It could destabilize them,” Macron said.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc pointed out that “Macron’s comments reflect President Joe Biden’s sweeping efforts to transform the global competition of the 21st. Read more about the Macron interview.

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