When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine’s Offensive Raises A Big Question: Is It Time To Attack Inside Russia?

The successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast has brought Kyiv’s troops to the border, now with the artillery capacity to strike inside Russian territory. What are risks of launching a “counter-invasion”? What are risks of not doing so?

​Border between Russia's Belgorod Region and Ukraine's Kharkiv Region

Border between Russia's Belgorod Region and Ukraine's Kharkiv Region

Anna Akage

The Ukrainian Armed Forces' startling counter-offensive has entered its fifth day, with overnight news outdated by lunchtime as the advance continues at a pace unprecedented since the start of the war. Since the beginning of September, the Ukrainian army has liberated more than 3,000 square miles of territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Meanwhile in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin appears to be in denial as his troops collapse and retreat, and his generals panic. Putin spent the weekend presiding over the grand opening of a new Ferris wheel in Moscow, and his spokesman released a statement saying all is going according to plan.

In light of events on the ground in Ukraine and the state of mind inside the Kremlin, a lingering question returns to the fore: Should Kyiv launch attacks inside of Russia? Is it time, in other words, to launch a sort of counter-invasion to undermine Putin’s very grip on power?

Among the most significant accomplishments of the past 48 hours is that Ukrainian troops have so quickly reached the border with Russia, just 20 miles from the city of Belgorod.

The Kherson option

That leaves Ukraine’s leadership with several options for what to do next. The first and most obvious choice would be to direct a further offensive inside Ukraine, moving to the south to liberate Kherson, a city of 290,000 that Russia had captured in the early weeks of the war.

But now that Kyiv has regained the territory, and has improved firepower capacity, the question of if and how to cross the border is also on the table. Ukraine has at its disposal U.S. supplied HIMARS long-range missiles, which can now reach a range of strategic military facilities, warehouses, and railroads on Russian territory, which have been used to supply Moscow’s military in the Luhansk region.

A key deterrent to such attacks would be that Ukraine promised the U.S. not to launch the missiles on Russian territory. Of course, Russia has not made any promises to anyone and shells Ukrainian cities from its bases daily. The Ukrainian border means nothing to Russia, but how will world leaders react if the Ukrainian army crosses it? If Ukrainian missiles fly into military bases in Belgorod and other cities?

Michael Nucky, an independent Russian journalist, believes that the border between the two countries is no longer something "sacred.”

\u200bSoldier in front of damages from military strikes on Stakhanov, Lugansk People's Republic

Soldier in front of damages from military strikes on Stakhanov, Lugansk People's Republic


Panic in Belgorod

From inside Belgorod, the Russian city of 370,000, reports have arrived of panic among local residents, and evacuations in a number of educational institutions, train stations, and business centers.

Russian Verstkaquotes a Belgorod resident. "Ordinary people want to know at least the approximate actions expected if there is an attack on our city. At the sound of the alarm, should I run to the basement?"

Ultimately war can only be won on the battlefield.

Another local recalled that Moscow boasted early in the war that if “even one shot was fired on Russian territory, measures will be taken. And ordinary ordinary people on the Internet wrote that nothing would happen to us! [...] Wake up, people, this is the Third World War. It's time to mobilize all the border areas.”

Experts from the Conflict Intelligence Team (an independent project that originated in Russia, but is now based around Europe) predict that the next target of the Ukrainian army will be the liberation of Kherson, rather than targeting inside Russia. But there’s a caveat.

"If we are not talking about HIMARS, but about a direct invasion of Russian territory, then Ukraine does not need that now, they have enough territories to liberate," Ruslan Leviev, one of the CIT experts said. “However, if Ukraine gets the right to hit Russia with super-precision weapons, this will also happen. Because ultimately war can only be won on the battlefield."

Back to the Kremlin

To be clear, in its long and complicated history, Ukraine has never sought foreign lands, typically busy instead defending itself against foreign invaders. But the dynamic is different now, and Ukrainians increasingly are convinced that to live in peace and tranquility, its neighbor to the north must be taken down to size and neutralized, stripped of its superpower ambitions.

Thus defeat of Russia means not only liberating all the currently occupied territories, but also depriving Russia of any possibility of waging war against Ukraine in the future. And that means taking aim at Putin, who has made clear both by bogus peace agreements and his rhetoric what he think about Ukraine’s right to exist.

The phrase some Ukrainians have adopted when talking about the country’s ultimate war aim is “chase them all the way back to the Kremlin.” That of course wouldn't mean a literal invasion through the streets of Moscow. Instead, the goal is to put Russia into such a spiraling crisis of confidence that the ambitions of its leaders are extinguished, permanently. That could very well start by Ukrainian troops and missiles crossing into Russian territory. It may just be a matter of time.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest