by Edward Steen, S-G. Vienna, October 12, 2022
There’s no way out, so every move is false, that line from a poem and a situation familiar to chess-players, roughly summarises the grotesque situation 70-year-old Vladimir Putin has created for himself and Russia after seven months of his “special operation” in Ukraine. Some of the world’s cleverest and most experienced military and political analysts have confronted the question of what next? How should the West proceed? No-one is sure, except that a Putin victory is unthinkable.
Yesterday (11/10/22) saw Putin’s nightmare unfolding with the G7 countries vowing to back Kyiv “for as long as it takes”, the BBC reported. NATO’s General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg was at his eloquent best today (live stream of speech to NATO leaders) in boosting solidarity with the free world.
How does it look from Moscow? For the wave of recruits ordered for Putin, the choice of getting out of the country has been taken by several hundred thousand men, mostly to Georgia. Meanwhile, prisoners are being offered deals to join up, both by the army and “the cook”, Putin’s old jailbird friend Yevgeniy Prigozhin running the Wagner Group of mercenaries and recruiting in prisons. (Apparently he and the newly-appointed boss of the “special operation,” Sergey Surovikin, known to soldiers as “General Armageddon“, are mutual admirers).
These are among the more insightful recent accounts of what is happening:
- Al Jazeera: What’s happening with the war in Ukraine?
- the same station carries a remarkably frank interview with Andrey Kortunov, one of Russia’s foremost political scientists. He paints a bleak picture of the Ukraine war, arguing that real issue Russia is grappling with is: does it want long-term isolation from the West, or
compromise and re-integration? Everything depends on the outcome of that fateful decision. See also the Economist of 20/05/22 : Three scenarios for the end of the war in Ukraine.
- That bridge: What really happened? Excellent Meduza reportage (10/10/22) still leaves some mysteries unsolved. Did 25-year-old Makhir Yusubov, driver of the 18-wheeled lorry carrying the explosives, have a rest on the road and miss the deadline, Putin’s birthday, the day before? Did he know what the lorry was carrying? Did he himself die, as seems likely, in the huge explosions?
- Julia Ioffe in Puck News 12/10/22: Putin’s road to nowhere