Russian President Vladimir Putin brought everything to a standstill with his announcements.
Photo: AFP – AFP Agency
After seven months of war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not dared to utter three key words: “we are at war”. That would have far-reaching consequences both for his country – which has the imaginary of not starting wars – and for the world. It is amazing to us because it is clear that there is a war going on – which has left at least 6,000 dead. But for him, this continues to be a “special military operation” on Ukrainian soil, a kind of “preventive attack” -in a defensive position- that he was “forced to launch to avoid a global conflict” in the face of the “threats” that it represented. NATO’s rapprochement with kyiv. What does the lack of those words mean? That his fire capabilities, then, are still limited by the state Duma. This could be about to change.
The counter-offensive operation of the Ukrainian army in the northeast of the country, with which more than 8,000 km2 of the territory invaded by the Russians were recovered in recent weeks, has exerted enough pressure on Putin and the Kremlin to escalate their war rhetoric and issue warnings about a darker future for Ukrainians. On Tuesday they made it clear that they will not sit idly by.
💥 First, the State Duma announced a package of laws that includes tougher sentences for deserters, against insubordination during military mobilization or war and damage to military property, so greater pressure is expected for soldiers and conscripts to stay on the front lines of a battle they are not winning.
💥 Secondly, and the news that gave the most to talk about, was the announcement of the call for an accession referendum in four Ukrainian oblasts with pro-Russian governments that have proclaimed themselves independent republics: Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia.
Why did Putin react now?
💥 Ukrainian troops have made great advances on the map, to the point of liberating villages in the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts, areas where Russia had almost all the power before the war broke out. Ukraine claims to have liberated villages in Donetsk such as Shchurove and Dibrova. Here is a testimony of it:
This is how the Ukrainian recovery goes:
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Ozerne is another village in Donetsk that was recaptured by the Ukrainian army. In retaliation, we have been able to observe the actions that Russia has taken:
🇺🇦💥🇷🇺 For a moment I thought it could be fake, but I see that it is geolocated. It is in Ozerne, Donetsk, a town now controlled by the Ukraine.
– Emilio Doménech (@Nanisimo) September 20, 2022
For this reason, Putin is pushing the referendum in these four zones. The reason is simple: the Kremlin has always defended a position of victim in war. That the attack – an invasion – was launched because the Ukraine was threatening them, so it was a pre-emptive operation. In that mission, they captured the territory that they have sequestered today. Now, if these states (oblasts) decide to join Russia, an offensive by Ukraine in these places – which has already been pushing the edges – would be the perfect excuse for Putin to say that his neighbor is attacking the sovereignty of the territory of the. It is complete madness, but it could justify a declaration of war.
On this, then, came the third announcement:
💥 Putin was going to give a speech to the nation. That produced the same feeling as when he spoke last February 23, the date he launched the invasion of him. His address, like the one in February, was delayed several times. It is said that the speech will finally be televised at 08:00 in Moscow, that is, at midnight in Colombia.
Local journalists said that the speech was recorded, but that its projection was delayed to coincide with the moment when Russians in the Far East woke up, in Khabarovsk, on the border with China. It was intended that the entire country listen to the speech and that is why it was going to be displayed between midnight and dawn in Colombia. Professor Vladimir Rouvinski, an expert on Russia, has another theory: the speech was delayed because Putin is locked up, he doesn’t know what to do.
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Rouvinski said that the Kremlin’s press secretary, who has to answer to journalists, hid after the first delay in the address because he did not know what to say.
“Putin is now at a dead end. Everything indicates that he did not do well at the summit with China in Uzbekistan, despite the statements made, ”says the professor. He says a lot that in that meeting Putin had to wait several minutes to be attended by the other leaders, when in the past it was he who made the world wait. In diplomatic language it is a very strong message. He has lost respect and power in the geopolitical field. At the end of August, India already openly condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine at the UN. Regarding China, on the other hand, it must be said that the banks in Beijing do not accept Russian credit cards and that, despite all the declarations and strong words, there is not much depth in this alliance.
The delay of the speech had a clear objective: to measure the expectation. Just as when an artist like Taylor Swift posts a photo and her fans start looking for details that indicate a possible release of new music, Putin announced his speech to see how interested governments were in what he had to say and in the end they didn’t. it gave. Of course: his announcement had an immediate effect: the French president, Emmanuel Macron, was the first to look for him and was denied a telephone conversation – which opens a concern about Putin’s ability to dialogue. As soon as the speech became known, Google searches for how to leave the country skyrocketed in Khabarovsk. Putin is playing with the world, seeing if it is still in force. “He has too big an ego,” says Rouvinski. But what does his speech finally seek?
“Most likely, Putin will talk about the referendum of the four breakaway republics, which was expected in September. He hopes to use the same modus operandi that he had with Crimea in 2014: to make a vote that has no international or internal legitimacy. When one makes a vote of this type there has to be a period of campaigns for and against, you must have the freedom to express yourself to meet the minimum standards, and that is not there. It will be a facade, a mockery as always, but it will use this as an excuse to incorporate these territories into Russia. Thus, this will transform the character of the war”, says Rouvinski.
The professor explains that “the Ukrainians are advancing to recover their own territory, which from the point of view of Russia are independent republics, but they are not Russian. Once they declare that they are part of Russia, for the Russians it is going to be an assault by the Ukraine on Russian territory. This will open up many scenarios for Putin. What he seeks is to sustain the image of him that he is not being violent, but that he is being attacked ”. And if the territories are annexed, the landscape of the war will change and with all the announcements on Tuesday Putin was preparing for it.
What’s next for Ukraine?
The fact of declaring these territories will change Putin’s discourse, but it will still have its limitations. He could put companies in the Russian defense sector to produce more weapons and ammunition, but he risks that even his closest ally, Belarus, will not recognize this annexation. Alexander Lukashenko’s government, in fact, did not recognize the annexation of Crimea, what that will do is make the situation more absurd than it is, according to Rouvinski.
We can expect a low intensity war, as the professor explains. That is, a prolonged military confrontation for the legitimacy of these zones that is below the conditions of a conditional war. We are very far, now more than before, from a peace agreement, according to Rouvinski. And this will undoubtedly have an impact on the global economy, as we have seen in recent months.
Now the chief editor of Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, surprised this morning with an explosive statement: “Judging by what is happening and what is yet to happen, this week marks either the eve of our imminent victory or the eve of nuclear war. I can’t see anything third.”
С по происходящем и еще собирающемся произойти, эта недея знаменует или преддверие нш с с с.
Не могу разглядеть ничего третьего.
— Margaret Simonyan (@M_Simonyan) September 20, 2022
Rouvinski stresses that while Putin is unpredictable and does “whatever he wants,” he is unlikely to launch a nuclear attack. The president himself recognizes deep down that this would have catastrophic consequences for the world. “It would be human annihilation,” he says.
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