October 3, 2022


Ukraine claimed full control of Russia's eastern logistics hub Lyman, its most significant battlefield gain in weeks, setting the stage for further advances aimed at cutting Moscow's supply lines to its battered troops to a single route. The stinging setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin was delivered after he proclaimed the annexation of four regions covering nearly a fifth of Ukraine on Friday, an area that includes Lyman. Kyiv and the West have condemned the proclamation as an illegitimate farce.” Reuters

“Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States had created a ‘precedent’ by using nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War Two, in a speech filled with hostility towards the West delivered from the Kremlin on Friday.” Reuters

Both sides urge the West not to accept Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territory or yield to his nuclear blackmail, but worry about instability in Russia:

“The best thing President Biden and his fellow NATO leaders can do is keep up sanctions and arms shipments that weaken Russia’s military and empower Ukraine to fight back. Mr. Biden indicated on Friday he would do so, with another $1.1 billion weapons package in the works. Symbolically and psychologically important as it was for President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce, in response to Mr. Putin’s threats, that Ukraine will seek immediate NATO membership, there is no need for Western leaders to act on that complicated question…

“Instead, they should finalize and implement their plan for a price cap on Russian crude exports and accelerate preparations to keep European homes and businesses supplied with energy through the winter. Also on the agenda should be diplomatic outreach to — or pressure on — India, China and Turkey, all of which seem increasingly weary of Mr. Putin’s war and might help persuade him to abandon it. Mr. Putin’s latest escalations, dangerous as they are, show that he senses the endgame approaching — and fears losing it.”

Editorial Board, Washington Post

“There is one clear explanation as to why the use of a nuclear weapon, or even talking about it, is a great temptation for Mr. Putin and for those who share his views about Russia’s standing in the world. Equality is understood by them in a very blunt, practically arithmetical way. To be equal to the United States, Russia must show that it can do anything the Americans can, regardless of when the Americans did it or what the context was…

“This symmetrical concept of equality and an almost superstitious idea of global justice are pushing Mr. Putin and some people around him to go for the nuclear option — especially since the prospect of Russia winning a conventional war is uncertain, if not improbable, and the Kremlin doesn’t recognize any exit strategy that cannot be passed off as some sort of victory.”

Alexander Baunov, New York Times

“Mr. Putin’s threats constitute an offensive use of nuclear weapons, imperial expansion through nuclear threats. He must be stopped, but how?… Mr. Putin may not fear a military setback inflicted by the U.S. as much as the West thinks he should. In fact, he may welcome an American retaliatory strike against Russian targets because it would strengthen his domestic support…

“Instead of vowing a U.S. response to a tactical nuclear strike, it would be more credible instead to threaten Moscow with a massive Ukrainian response with Western-supplied conventional weapons on Russia soil. This could mean arming Ukraine with long-range missiles, such as Army Tactical Missile Systems, capable of striking targets in Russia; airplanes, such as F-16s, that could help establish air dominance; and superior land capabilities, such as M1 tanks…

“The alternatives to arming Ukraine are grim: Either the U.S. risks a nuclear war with Russia or Moscow’s nuclear intimidation succeeds, motivating brinkmanship and even nuclear proliferation in front-line states threatened by their nuclear neighbors.”

Jakub Grygiel, Wall Street Journal

“As Russia’s ill-fated war in Ukraine continues to sputter, there are serious concerns over how Putin might respond… Postings last week on the Telegram channel operated by Rusich, a neo-Nazi mercenary cadre, put out a call for pro-Russian partisans already on European soil who are willing to block the transfer of NATO personnel and equipment, hold local ‘demonstrations and actions’ against the war with the Russian Federation or solve other problems…

“Rusich is closely aligned with the Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor that has been accused of committing war crimes in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa. The appeal for individuals to take action in Europe has been translated into English, German and Polish — and could attract pro-Russian Westerners to engage in acts of terrorism in their home countries… NATO leaders need to make clear that acts of terrorism on Western soil traced back to the Kremlin will lead to greater U.S. and European involvement in Ukraine — not less.”

Colin P. Clarke, Los Angeles Times

“On a recent visit to Kyiv I found the war all-pervasive, from the number of young men in uniform — even in hipster cafés — to the regular air-raid sirens. But to most Muscovites the war had been all but invisible before Putin’s mobilization announcement [last week]… The war suddenly moved from being a distant and ignorable unpleasantness to something that was, to tens of millions of Russians with military-age male relatives, very up close and personal…

“Moscow taxi drivers are in rare agreement. They’ll fight if Russia is attacked, but not ‘to take someone else’s house.’ A week ago, Putin could have declared victory, proposed a peace plan and split Ukraine’s supporters. But with mobilization sparking protests in hitherto loyal places such as Dagestan, he’s made regime change a real possibility.”

Owen Matthews, Spectator World

Yet “A post-Putin Russia could turn out to be more than a disappointment. It could prove downright dangerous. To start, another strongman could take over and continue the war in Ukraine. Studies suggest that only 20% of personality-based autocracies become democracies. Putin could be replaced by someone from his inner circle who is even more ruthless…

“Or Muslim regions in Russia, such as Chechnya or Dagestan, might use the post-Putin political vacuum to seek greater autonomy, even outright independence, as they have in the past. Russia might move to crush what it sees as secessionism and precipitate a prolonged civil war in a country with nearly 6,000 nuclear warheads… while a democratic future for Russia cannot be ruled out, neither can one or more of these other outcomes, each dangerous.”

Rajan Menon and Daniel R DePetris, The Guardian

See past issues

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.