Analysis | Russia pushes the panic button and raises risk of nuclear war

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Many observers of the war in Ukraine feared the same would happen. Separatist leader in four Enclaves controlled by Russian forces and their proxies Ukraine announced that a “referendum” would be held from Friday to Tuesday to decide whether its territories would join Russia. The vote, which is illegal under both Ukrainian and international law and seen by most analysts as a fraud, is similar to the one held by Russia after its annexation of Crimea in 2014. . By contrast, the Kremlin’s military is in control. These statelets Tensions are high in Ukraine’s regions of Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, where Ukraine is in the midst of an ongoing offensive to push Russian troops out of more areas of the country.

Further Russian annexation of Ukrainian lands — no matter the fake nature of the move — marks the latest roll of the dice by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Having shown humility on the battlefield in recent weeks, he believes that changing political realities on the ground could halt Ukraine’s progress and force a recount among Western governments. “After annexing the territories, Moscow is likely to interpret Ukrainian attacks on those territories as attacks on Russia itself, analysts warn, of a dangerous escalation such as a general military mobilization or the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine. A possible trigger,” My colleague Robin Dixon wrote.

On Wednesday morning, Putin gave a speech in which he ordered a “partial mobilization” of Russian troops and warned that Russia would “use all means at our disposal” to defend its territory — a veil. A nuclear threat. His country’s rubber-stamp parliament is pushing through a bill that would toughen penalties for a host of crimes such as defection and insubordination if committed during military mobilization or war situations. Pro-war hardliners have called for such drastic measures to stifle Russia’s war effort. They also believe that tightening control over Russian-held Ukrainian territory will increase the Kremlin’s favor.

“What is happening and what is going to happen, predicting that this week is either our imminent victory or a chance for nuclear war,” said Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state propaganda channel RT. Tweeted. “I can’t see a third option.”

Ukrainian authorities were not impressed. “The Syrian ‘referendum’ won’t change anything. Neither will any hybrid ‘mobilization.’ Foreign Minister Dmytro Koliba responded.. “Russia has been and will continue to be an aggressor illegally occupying parts of Ukraine’s land. Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will continue to liberate them no matter what Russia says.

Ukraine’s invasion thwarted Russia’s plan to annex Kharkiv.

This sentiment was echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron while speaking on the dais of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. He described Russian actions since the February 24 attack as a “return to the age of imperialism and colonialism” and spoke directly to nations in the developing world that appear to be sitting on the fence during the conflict. . “Those who are now silent on this new imperialism, or secretly complicit in it, demonstrate a new cynicism that is destroying the world order without which peace is impossible,” Macron said. ‘ said Macron.

Other Western diplomats Condemned the annexation project.. “Russia, its political leadership, and all those involved in these ‘referenda’ and other violations of international law in Ukraine will be held accountable,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement. Additional sanctions measures against will be considered.” .

Aside from the rhetorical support of far-right allies in Europe, Putin cannot count on much support elsewhere. At a summit in Uzbekistan last week, he faced pressure from the leaders of China and India, which have historically had warm relations with Moscow, to end hostilities in Ukraine.

“These countries signaled to Putin to end the war as soon as possible, and stop claiming to represent the entire non-Western world.” Alexander Bonoff tweeted., a Russian journalist and international policy expert. So Moscow’s moves are either to end the war as soon as possible, or if that doesn’t work, to shift the blame to other people and turn the attack on Russia’s neighbor into a defensive one. is being done. War.”

As Ukraine moves forward, Putin is further backed into a corner.

Great Ukrainian victories in the northeastern Kharkiv region Set the table for this strategic turn. Ukraine’s rapid advance exposed a weak, disorganized Russian army that melted away. It also fell further. Putin’s Propaganda Narrative Around War. For months, the Kremlin framed the Russian invasion as a “special operation” with one inevitable outcome – to bring a ruthless little neighbor back into Russia. A series of severe setbacks has made clear the seeming impossibility of a decisive Russian military victory.

And many in Russia are now getting the picture as well. “Judging by the hateful comments in Russian Telegram channels and the shift in tone in the Kremlin-controlled media, the Russians are in the process of losing the last vestiges of their perceived military might.” Gian Gentile and Raphael S. Cohen wrote in Foreign Policylikens the Ukrainian victory at Kharkiv to the American victory over the British at Saratoga in 1777, which turned the tide of the Revolutionary War.

This analogy may be a bit premature. Gentile and Cohen’s partner at the RAND Corporation, Dara Massicot, warned that the next phase of the war — which is still heavily influenced by Western military support for Ukraine as it bids to regain lost territory — is a Russian one. May see a new series of provocations. “If the Kremlin’s annexation ploy fails to stop the fighting and support for Ukraine, the Kremlin needs to show it’s serious,” he tweeted. ” – including More missile strikes on Ukraine’s urban areas and energy infrastructureCyber-attacks, and exercises that involve the “branding of nuclear weapons”, if not their deployment.

is at stake. The West should be reminded. Russia The hidden rules of war: that neither side wants to turn this conventional war into a wider NATO-Russia conflict. Leanna Fix and Michael Kimmage wrote in Foreign Affairs. “Nuclear escalation would violate these principles and could lead to the involvement of NATO. It would be detrimental to everyone.”

Meanwhile, Fix and Kimmage argued, efforts to order the Kremlin to mobilize more generally could only win approval for war among the Russian public and weaken Putin’s grip on power. “Putin’s Russia has failed to develop a clear vision for its war, has failed to learn from its mistakes, and is unable to perform many of the tasks of a world-class military,” he wrote. “Stimulating yourself won’t change any of that.”

The War in Ukraine: What You Need to Know

the latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of the military in an address to the nation on September 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against the West, which calls Ukraine “to divide Russia and wants to be used as a tool to destroy.” Follow us Live updates here.

Fighting: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a large Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops have fled towns and villages they had held since the early days of the war, and large Left quantities of military equipment.

Accession Referendum: According to Russian news agencies, the phased referendum, which would be illegal under international law, is scheduled to take place in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine from September 23 to 27. Another phased referendum will be held in Kherson on Friday by the Moscow-appointed administration.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground since the war began. Here are some of his most powerful works..

How you can help: Here are ways to do it in America. Help help the Ukrainian people. as well as What people around the world are donating..

Read our full coverage of The Russia-Ukraine Crisis. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel. For updates and exclusive videos.

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