The Queen is at rest and now the world can take a good look at the events that could shape our years to come.
The Separatists of Eastern Ukraine will make things worse…..
It’s no secret that Ukraine’s military has been making big gains against Russian forces, gains that have Ukrainian officials talking about forcing the Russians out completely. Now, however, comes a potentially major wrinkle. Amid the Ukrainian military surge, four regions at least partially controlled by Russian troops plan to hold referendums in the coming days to formally join Russia. Coverage:
- The regions: Pro-Moscow separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, Kherson in the south, and Zaporizhzhia (about 250 miles west of Luhansk) have announced the referendums, reports the AP. The “long-suffering people of the Donbas have earned the right to be part of the great country that they always considered their motherland,” says separatist leader Denis Pushilin in Donetsk. (That region and Luhansk make up the Donbas.) The votes begin Friday and will last a few days, though the logistics are very much up in the air, per Reuters.
- Why now? The Washington Post sees the votes as “a sign of apparent panic that the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine in failing.” As in, these separatist leaders fear the Ukraine military push will accelerate and want to act now before it’s too late. Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky has a similar take, saying “the occupiers are clearly in a panic,” per Reuters.
- In Moscow: Not surprisingly, the Kremlin is on board with the movement. “The current situation confirms that they want to be the masters of their future,” says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, per the New York Times. Russia would be expected to quickly acknowledge the results of the referendums and formally annex the regions.
- The risk: Ukraine and the West aren’t expected to recognize any such referendums as valid. (The US warned in July of Russian “sham” votes like this.) Russia is an illegal occupier and thus “Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them, whatever Russia has to say,” is how Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba put it. But if Russia considers the regions part of its own country, any subsequent attacks by Ukraine would be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia.
- Spelling it out: “Encroachment onto Russian territory is a crime which allows you to use all the forces of self-defense,” former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wrote on Telegram in a statement perceived as a warning to the West, per the Moscow Times. “This is why these referendums are so feared in Kyiv and the West.” The Post quotes pro-war RT television exec Margarita Simonyan as warning that after Russia recognizes the regions, “strikes on the territory of Russia become a full-fledged war between Ukraine and NATO with Russia, untying Russia’s hands in all respects.”
Now the escalation that I mentioned earlier…..
Vladimir Putin is “not out of tricks,” writes the Globe and Mail editorial board, and he proved as much Wednesday by backing sham referendums on Russian accession in four occupied territories of Ukraine, calling up 300,000 reservists, and threatening every possible defense of Russian territory. Here are four reactions to Putin’s speech:
- Weak attempt at justification: In “resorting to a Potemkin vote to annex territories from which its soldiers are in danger of being evicted,” Russia is distracting from that fact that Putin’s invasion “has been an error-ridden disaster that has weakened him domestically and internationally,” continues the Globe and Mail editorial board. He underestimated his opponents and the support they would receive while overestimating Russia’s military might. And now comes “a weak attempt at providing some sort of justification, in Russia’s favor, of a war” that has killed tens of thousands and “made refugees of more than six million others.”
No real help: The assumed annexations seek to contain Ukrainian advances, which threaten much of the territory captured by Russia, and could allow Russia to send conscripts into these areas, according to the Economist. But it would also “commit Mr. Putin to the financial and political upkeep of a war-torn region under perpetual risk of attack.” Meanwhile, “the spectre of the conscription of young men and the mobilization of reservists risks provoking widespread anger at Mr. Putin’s regime while offering little short-term help on the battlefield.” It notes training and equipping 300,000 reservists “would probably take more than a year.”
All this speaks to just how any armed conflict can quickly spin out of control…..
Russians are not handling the escalation without voicing a dissenting voice.
Protesters turned out across Russia on Wednesday, in spite of the threat of imprisonment, in response to the announcement that thousands of troops will be called up to join the fighting in Ukraine. Hundreds, at least, were arrested; OVD-Info, a Russian human rights group, put the number at more than 1,300 in 38 cities, France24 reports. Arrests were made in almost major city in Russia, per the Hill. The protests were the largest since the ones held right after the invasion of Ukraine began in February. “I am for peace, and I don’t want to have to shoot,” said Vasily Fedorov, a student in St Petersburg. “But coming out now is very dangerous, otherwise there would be many more people.”
The call had gone out for Russians to join the anti-mobilization protests, which was followed by a warning from the Moscow prosecutor’s office that demonstrators could be sentenced to 15 years in jail, per the BBC. Possible charges were said to be discrediting the armed forces, spreading “fake news” about the battle in Ukraine, and encouraging minors to protest. The antiwar organization Vesna said it had received 6,000 calls to its hotline since Tuesday morning from Russians asking about soldiers’ rights. Young men told the BBC they’re worried about being called up. “I shouldn’t be recruited during this step of mobilization,” said one in St. Petersburg, “but there are no guarantees that things won’t get worse.”
One-way plane tickets out of Russia were going fast and becoming more expensive, some changing every few minutes, per the AP, as fears grew that the nation’s borders would be closed. A one-way economy class fare from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai topped $9,000. “Why are they deciding my future for me?” asked Oksana Sidorenko, a student protesting in St. Petersburg, told AFP. “I’m scared for myself, for my brother.” A 60-year-old man told a reporter: “I came out to the rally planning to participate, but it looks like they’ve already arrested everyone. This regime has condemned itself and is destroying its youth.”
Starting to sound like the tactics Iran used in its war with Iraq….it destroyed a whole generation of Iranians.
This will not help the conflict in any way.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”