War With Ukraine as Other Means to Speed Up Reversal of Russia’s ‘Civilizational Choice’

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

(Russia Matters – Simon Saradzhyan – russiamatters.org – Aug. 12, 2022) Simon Saradzhyan is the founding director of the Russia Matters Project. To Vladimir Putin, the war in Ukraine is obviously not an end in itself. Rather, it is one of multiple means by which he’d like to attain multiple aims. Of these, one appears to be somewhat overlooked and undeservedly […]

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Moscow Doesn’t Release All the Data It Collects But Doesn’t Keep Two Sets of Books or Falsify What It Does Issue, Former Kremlin Expert Says

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Paul Goble – Staunton, July 15, 2022) It is widely but incorrectly believed that the Kremlin keeps two sets of books, one that is more or less accurate on which it relies and a second that is fundamentally distorted in order to make things look better to the population than they in fact are, Dmitry Nekrasov says. According to the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Lifts House Arrest for Top University Head Mau” – Moscow Times

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Moscow Times – Aug. 3, 2022) The head of one of Russia’s leading universities for civil servants was released from house arrest Wednesday in exchange for staying in the country during the course of a high-profile fraud investigation. Vladimir Mau, 62, was detained in late June in connection with a 21-million-ruble ($350,000) fraud investigation targeting a former senior education official. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Who Is Vladimir Putin? Philip Short’s ‘Putin’ is an impressive biography but one that necessarily lacks the final chapters of the story.” – New York Times

Vladimir Putin file photo, adapted from screenshot of video at shareamerica.gov

“PUTIN, by Philip Short | Illustrated | 864 pp. | Henry Holt & Company | $40 … Short’s account is both perfectly and unfortunately timed, arriving just when we most need to understand Putin, yet missing the chapter that may yet define his place in history. … Short’s version nonetheless offers a compelling, impressive and methodically researched account of Putin’s […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A dark state; Vladimir Putin is in thrall to a distinctive brand of Russian fascism; That is why his country is such a threat to Ukraine, the West and his own people” – The Economist

Vladimir Putin file photo, adapted from screenshot of video at shareamerica.gov

“… A decade ago [when][] Putin’s popularity began to wane[] [h]e … [started] drawing on … fascist thinking … caught up in a cycle of grievance and resentment that has left reason far behind. … culminat[ing] in a ruinous war that … defied the weighing of risks and rewards. … Without the rhetoric of victimhood and the use of violence, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What Putin Fights For” – Andrew Doris, Thomas Graham/ Survival (IISS)

Vladimir Putin file photo, adapted from screenshot of video at shareamerica.gov

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reignited debate over the role of NATO expansion …. Robert Person and Michael McFaul dismiss Russian President Vladimir Putin’s NATO concerns as a ‘fiction,’ arguing that it was actually the expansion of democracy that threatened his autocratic regime. … Democracy and NATO expansion were not separate issues for Putin and the Russian elite, but mutually […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Former Putin aide Anatoly Chubais hospitalised with rare neurological disorder; Kremlin’s climate envoy quit shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” – Financial Times

Anatoly Chubais file photo

“[Anatoly Chubais,] … former senior aide to … Putin is … hospital[ized] in Italy … diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder …. A central architect of Russia’s post-communist privatisation, Chubais, 69, is the most senior [Kremlin] official to resign … [since] the [February] invasion of Ukraine …. Shortly before Chubais’s resignation, Putin said Russia needed to ‘purify itself’ by ‘distinguishing […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Dark days again in Russia. For prisoners, an endless carousel of absurdity” – Washington Post

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“To understand Russia today, it is necessary to reach back to Stalin’s Great Terror …. Everyone was scared[,] even Communist Party theorists … ‘frightened out of their wits like rabbits’ [as described by one commentator.] … [Similarly, today] Russian security services are grabbing people arbitrarily and imprisoning them for criticism of … Putin or his barbaric war against Ukraine. [According […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Shut Down by the Kremlin, Independent Russian Media Regroup Abroad” – WSJ

Fingers Typing on Computer Keyboard, adapted form image at nps.gov

“News outlets forced to close since Russia invaded Ukraine are soldiering on in exile.” “… [Following] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin adopted legislation punishing the dissemination of false information about [Russian military activities] with up to 15 years in prison. [The] Kremlin … said … the law was needed because of ‘the absolutely unprecedented information war … against our […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine Is the Next Act in Putin’s Empire of Humiliation” – New York Times/ Peter Pomerantsev

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

“… This war is an act of imperialism, a colonial war meant to destroy another nation’s right to exist and to subjugate it. But it is not empire building … [as] a coldly considered plan for territorial gain and economic resources; it is the next act of … Putin’s empire of humiliation. [Putin] would have the world believe [Russia] … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin is ‘entirely too healthy,’ the C.I.A. director says” – New York Times

Vladimir Putin file photo, adapted from screenshot of video at shareamerica.gov

“Western intelligence officials, as well as the Kremlin, this week dismissed longstanding rumors that  … Putin, the 69-year-old Russian president, is unwell. … ‘There are lots of rumors about … Putin’s health and as far as we can tell he’s entirely too healthy,’ [CIA Director] William J. Burns … said … Wednesday. Richard Moore, … head of MI6, … said […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Top Russian University Head Vladimir Mau Detained on Fraud Charges” – Moscow Times

File Photos of Law Books and Gavel, adapted from image at fjc.gov

(Moscow Times – June 30, 2022) The head of one of Russia’s leading universities was detained Thursday in connection with a fraud investigation targeting a former senior education official. Vladimir Mau, head of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), was detained as a suspect in a 21-million-ruble ($399,810) embezzlement case, Russia’s Interior Ministry said. Investigators […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Expands ‘Foreign Agents’ Law to Target ‘Foreign Influence'” – Moscow Times

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – June 29, 2022) Russia’s lower house of parliament has passed a new bill expanding the criteria for individuals and organizations who can be labeled “foreign agents.” According to the new law passed by the State Duma, any organization “under foreign influence” can be listed as a “foreign agent,” barring them from activities such as receiving state financing, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Military ‘Reshuffle’ Hints at Frustration With Slow Ukraine Advance” – Moscow Times

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – James Beardsworth – June 29, 2022) Official statements and footage released by Russia’s Defense Ministry suggests the Kremlin has reshuffled the country’s military command structure in recent weeks, according to analysts, as the ongoing Russian offensive in Ukraine yields few territorial gains. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Gennady Zhidko’s appearance alongside Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on a visit […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “‘He doesn’t have a long life ahead of him’: Putin is suffering from several ‘grave’ illnesses and will be dead within two years, Ukraine’s spy chief claims”  – The Daily Mail (UK)

Vladimir Putin file photo, adapted from screenshot of video at shareamerica.gov

“Kyiv Defense Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov: Putin’s health ‘grave’ Russian dictator will die of array of illnesses within two years, Budanov added Top spook cites ‘human intelligence’ handed by Ukrainian spies inside Kremlin He also said of American fighters facing death in Donbas: ‘We are working on it” “[The 69-year-old] Putin’s health has been the subject of intense […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Pay Raises, More News and Tighter Control: Staff at Russian State TV Work Overtime Amid Ukraine War” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – Anastasia Tenisheva – June 27, 2022) “No war” and “They are lying to you” were not messages Russian viewers expected to see during a news bulletin on state-run television. But that was exactly what happened when producer Marina Ovsyannikova stormed a live broadcast waving an anti-war poster shortly after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. “The atmosphere was terrible […]

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Why Putin Needs Peter the Great

File Photo of Statue of Peter the Great on Horse Atop Rock in St. Petersburg, Russia, adapted from image at cia.gov

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Andrei Zorin – June 23, 2022) Andrei Zorin is a professor of Russian and a fellow of New College at the University of Oxford. Putin’s attitude toward history may at first glance seem contradictory. On one hand, he is a diehard traditionalist who gives historical justifications for his decisions, appeals to the national past as […]

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JRL NEWSBLOG: “Can Putin Survive? The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse” – Foreign Affairs/ Vladislav Zubok

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Putin grossly miscalculated by invading Ukraine, and … has exposed the regime’s vulnerabilities — an economy … much more interdependent with Western economies than its Soviet predecessor … and a highly concentrated political system that lacks the tools for political and military mobilization …. If the war grinds on, Russia will become a less powerful international actor. A prolonged […]

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Russia’s National Day

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

PRESS STATEMENT ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE (U.S. Department of State – June 12, 2022) On behalf of the United States of America, I express my wish for a more peaceful, open future for the people of Russia as they commemorate Russia Day. June 12, 1990, marked an important step in fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Russia […]

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The Week In Russia: ‘The Complete Collapse Of Everything’

File Photo of Statue of Peter the Great on Horse Atop Rock in St. Petersburg, Russia, adapted from image at cia.gov

(Article text Copyright © 2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036. – rferl.org – Steve Gutterman – June 10, 2022 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/week-in-russia-complete-collapse-of-everything/31892257.html) As the war in Ukraine rages, Russian President Vladimir Putin likens himself to Tsar Peter the Great — but […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Has a Patriotism Problem. [Interview with Masha Lipman]” – The New Yorker

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“The Kremlin depends on ‘passive loyalty’ from the Russian public. What if winning the war in Ukraine demands something more?” “It has been more than a hundred days since Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine. … [T]he Ukrainians — armed by the United States and Europe — have fought back ferociously and repelled assaults on several key cities. … […]

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Influencers, Echo Chambers, and Epistemic Bubbles: Russia’s Academic Discourse in the Wake of the War in Ukraine

Moscow State University file photo

(PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo – Mariya Omelicheva – May 31, 2022) Mariya Omelicheva is Professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College, National Defense University. The views expressed in this memo are those of the author and do not represent an official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or National Defense University. Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine […]

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Hoping for a Russia Without Putin: Biden Wasn’t the First, or the Last

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – RM Staff – May 26, 2022) Earlier this spring U.S. President Joe Biden used his speech in Warsaw to launch a blistering attack on Russian President Vladimir Putin for ordering the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” the U.S. leader said at the end of his address. Almost […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Russian Orthodox Leader at the Core of Putin’s Ambitions” – New York Times

Patriarch Kirill file photo

“Patriarch Kirill I has provided spiritual cover for the invasion of Ukraine, reaping vast resources for his church in return. Now, in an extraordinary step, the E.U. is threatening him with sanctions.” “… Kirill … has staked the fortunes of his branch of Orthodox Christianity on a close and mutually beneficial alliance with [] Putin ….  To his critics, the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “The Decline of HSE: Top Russian University Stifles Dissent Amid Ukraine War” – Moscow Times

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Moscow Times – Yanina Sorokina – May 19, 2022) Timofei Voronov, 21, a cultural studies student at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE), was summoned to see the prestigious university’s deputy head in March after being detained at an anti-war rally. Along with several other students, Voronov was shown a list of new laws at the March meeting, including those […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump Russia adviser Fiona Hill recalls dinner with ‘bizarre’-smelling Putin” – New York Post

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“A former U.S. National Security Council official … described an odd dinner encounter with … Putin — who smelled ‘almost like he had stepped out of some special preparatory bath.’ … ‘I took in … one of the finely tailored suits …’ … ‘I noticed right away that, like the rest of us, he really could have done with glasses […]

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Once A Hope Of Russian Liberals And The West, Medvedev Beats A Bellicose Drum To Stay Safe, Relevant

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Article text Copyright © 2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036. – rferl.org – Todd Prince – April 24, 2022 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/medvedev-liberal-to-bellicose/31818941.html) Former President Dmitry Medvedev’s opinion article in the daily Kommersant in October 2021, ahead of Russia’s massive military buildup […]

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Who’s to Blame? Sanctions, Economic Hardship, and Putin’s Fear of Color Revolutions

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(PONARS Eurasia Eurasia Policy Memo No. 767 – Stephen Crowley – April 18, 2022 – click here for PDF) Stephen Crowley is Professor of Politics at Oberlin College. He is the author of, Putin’s Labor Dilemma: Russian Politics between Stability and Stagnation (Cornell University Press, 2021), from which this memo is drawn. The sanctions now imposed on Russia—as severe as they are—are unlikely by […]

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Latest Poll Shows Sharp Rise in Russian Government Approval Amid Ukraine War, With Caveats

Kremlin and River

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – RM Staff – March 31, 2022) As Russia’s new laws on freedom of expression become increasingly draconian, analysts have questioned how reliable any polling on Russians’ attitudes can possibly be. Denis Volkov, director of Russia’s go-to independent pollster, the Levada Center, told The New Yorker recently that “surveys don’t show what people think, but what they are ready […]

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Despite Ukraine and Sanctions, Putin Still Enjoys an Enormous Credit of Trust with Russians but This Isn’t Infinite, Pastukhov Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, Mar. 22, 2022) Most Russians expect that the current crisis arising from the fighting in Ukraine and the sanctions the West has imposed will be overcome in a few months; and as a result, they are still prepared to support Vladimir Putin in his policies, Vladimir Pastukhov says. But this “credit of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “‘Scum and traitors’: Hostile environs for Russia’s anti-war activists” – Christian Science Monitor

“The atmosphere inside Russia has turned cold to anyone critical of the country’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine. But some, especially youth, are still standing up for their values.” “Editor’s note: This article was edited in order to conform with Russian legislation criminalizing references to Russia’s current action in Ukraine as anything other than a ‘special military operation.’ … Welcome […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “White House: Intel shows Putin misled by advisers on Ukraine” – AP

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

“U.S. intelligence … [reportedly] ha[s] determined that … Putin is being misinformed by advisers about his military’s poor performance in Ukraine …. The advisers are scared to tell him the truth …. The findings … indicate that Putin is aware of the situation on information coming to him and there now is persistent tension between him and senior Russian military […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Inside Putin’s circle — the real Russian elite: As the west focuses on oligarchs, a far smaller group has its grip on true power in Moscow. Who are the siloviki — and what motivates them?” – Financial Times

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Putin himself … and a large majority of the top elite … are from the KGB or associated state backgrounds (though not the [military]).  … remarkably stable and homogenous … [now or previously] close to [Putin] personally. … [T]hey have plundered [Russia] … and have participated or acquiesced in his crimes, including … the invasion of Ukraine. They have […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Spies Will Doom Putin; After invading Ukraine, he’s tightening the screws the way the Soviets did — and that will help the CIA recruit Russians.” – WSJ

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Resurrecting the Soviet empire, as [] Putin wants to do, brings with it the same forces that prompted most of the Warsaw Pact’s best CIA agents to turn against the Kremlin. Agents across the Soviet bloc often shared the same desire: to inflict whatever harm they could. … not for money, but to undermine a toxic system that enriched […]

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Putin’s Unintended Place in History: Destroyer not Reuniter of Rus’

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

Subject: Putin’s Unintended Place in History: Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2022 From: Ira Straus <irastraus@aol.com> Putin’s Unintended Place in History: Destroyer not Reuniter of Rus’ By Ira Straus Putin has cemented his place in history, but it is not the one he wanted. He will be remembered, not as the reuniter of ancient Rus’, but as its final destroyer. The […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Central Banker Wanted Out Over Ukraine, Putin Said No; Russian president said to reject Nabiullina’s bid to resign” – Bloomberg

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

“Russia’s highly regarded central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina [reportedly] sought to resign after … Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine, only to be told by the president to stay …. Nominated for a new five-year term last week … [s]he is left to manage the fallout from a war that’s quickly undone much of what’s she’s accomplished in the nine […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Aide Chubais Quits Kremlin, Leaves Russia” – Moscow Times

Anatoly Chubais file photo

(Moscow Times – March 23, 2022) The Kremlin’s climate envoy and veteran reformer Anatoly Chubais has quit his position and left Russia over his opposition to the war in Ukraine, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The bombshell departure, according to two unnamed insiders cited by Bloomberg, makes Chubais the highest-profile figure to break with President Vladimir Putin over his decision to invade […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian population divided over war, tens of thousands seek exile in neighboring countries, expert says” – Fox

“Russia may only have enough money to operate for next few months as sanctions take hold, top scholar [Marlene Laruelle] says” “Russians are split over the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine, and tens of thousands of Russians have already sought exile in neighboring countries, [according to] a leading scholar on Russian studies[,] … Marlene Laruelle, who heads the Institute for European, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Maria Stepanova: The war of Putin’s imagination” – Financial Times

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“… The aggressor in this unjust war in a foreign territory, with its war crimes and its victims … operates as if he’s making a piece of art, a book or a film, in which the events are controlled by their creator. But this particular book has a bad author. Bad in all senses, as a person and as a […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “If Regime Change Came to Moscow: The past offers some lessons for the future” – William Courtney

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“Strains in Russia over the war in Ukraine and punishing economic sanctions could spark regime change in Moscow. Although prospects … are uncertain, the West might be prudent to begin considering how to deal with any new government. Past disruptions in Russia may offer some insights for Western policy, but new ground might need to be plowed. Abrupt political changes […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Putin needs to watch his back” – Washington Post

Kremlin and River

“No matter … the outcome … Putin’s war on Ukraine spells bad news for his regime. Neither taking Kyiv and declaring victory nor beginning peace negotiations will save the Russian president from the serious, if not fatal, domestic repercussions …. As the war drags on, the danger to Putin’s reign will come chiefly from three quarters: the oligarchs, the military […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Plan C … And Plan D …” – Lawrence Freedman

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“As the Russo-Ukrainian War takes a darker turn it is important to emphasise … [that] [t]his is a war that … Putin cannot win, however long … and however cruel his methods. … [T]he Russian campaign has been hampered by political objectives that cannot be translated into meaningful military objectives. Putin[‘s] … mythical Ukraine, a product of a fevered imagination […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s nightmare is becoming a reality” – The Spectator

“‘Those he commands move only in command, nothing in love’. … I remembered [Shakespeare’s] words about Macbeth as I watched a shifty … Putin force the members of his Security Council to bob up and down … tremulously affirm[ing] … support for his wise policy on Ukraine. … [E]nforced compliance among Russian’s politicians has continued in the days since, as […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “I See Three Scenarios for How This War Ends” – New York Times

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“… Every day … Putin refuses to stop we get closer to the gates of hell. … Putin doesn’t have the ability to install a puppet… and just leave him …. Russia [would] need[] to permanently station tens of thousands of troops … [with] Ukrainians … shooting at them [daily]. … [A]s Putin warned … before putting his nuclear force […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Distraught dictator or rational actor? With Putin and Ukraine, the evidence is chilling” – Washington Post

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“Recent images of … Putin convey his isolation and arrogance. … The inescapable question, as the world watches Putin defy international law to hammer Ukraine, is whether he is a rational actor. Is he serving what he sees as Russia’s national interests, or is he a distraught dictator driven by an obsessive desire to force Ukraine into a neo-imperial dream? […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As war in Ukraine rages, Russians look on with increasing dismay” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

“The war in Ukraine may have come at a high cost for Vladimir Putin at home. The backlash against the conflict suggests a moral split and loss of trust between the Russian public and its leadership.” “… despite the fog of war and a deepening crackdown on civil society, surprising numbers of Russians are expressing shock at and even outright […]

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Some of Russia’s Elite Oppose War in Ukraine

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Moscow Times – Feb. 28, 2022) A growing number of Russia’s business and political elite have publicly spoken out against the country’s invasion of Ukraine, in a rare show of defiance for Russia’s opaque and Kremlin-loyal elite. On Sunday, Alfa Bank co-founder Mikhail Fridman, whose parents live in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, called the war in Ukraine “a tragedy” […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Navalny Calls Ukraine War ‘Distraction’ From Russia’s Problems” – Moscow Times

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“I think this war is designed to divert attention from Russia’s problems, and it will only lead to greater impoverishment …. I consider those who unleashed this war to be bandits and thieves. I went into politics to fight this criminal regime of thieves.” […]

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