The last sighting of Vladimir Putin was five days ago, when the Russian President appeared at the inauguration of a giant Ferris wheel in Moscow.
Since then, as the Ukrainian army’s major counter-offensive in the northeast and south has gained momentum, and Russian troops make a hasty retreat, Putin has disappeared from the public space and made no comments on the dramatic events on the front of what he continues to call a “special military operation.”
The same is true of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, considered a loyal Putin insider and chief architect of the war, who has made no appearances or declarations.
Several independent Russian media outlets have reported on these absences, including independent media outlets Popular Politics and Obyektiv, as well as journalists Michael Naki, Ilya Varlamov, and others.
The Institute for the Study of War believes Putin is trying to downplay the army's setbacks, worried that it can undermine his popularity. Still, there are risks in keeping silent. In the void, anger at Putin from the virulently pro-war Russian camp is spreading.
Several dozen municipal deputies have signed a petition demanding the President's resignation. “Now we have 47 verified signatures of deputies,” said St. Petersburg parliament member Xenia Thorstromb. “The geography has expanded considerably."
Meanwhile, there are also rumblings in the Duma national parliament: Gennady Zyuganov, a deputy from the Communist Party, demanded a general mobilization that could replenish troops and finally commit to a full-fledged war.
El Mundo Front Page (Spain)
"A day on the medical field in Ukraine"
Putin Rejected Peace Deal At Beginning Of War
Dmitry Kozak, Russia's chief envoy
Just before the invasion began in February, Russia’s chief envoy to Ukraine told Vladimir Putin that he had made a provisional deal with Kyiv, which was then summarily rejected by Putin. Reuters reports that, according to three people close to the Kremlin leadership, the deal included Russia’s demand that Ukraine not join NATO.
Before the invasion, Putin had repeatedly stated that it was unacceptable for NATO to be on Russia’s borders. However, when presented with the deal, the sources say Putin said the concessions did not go far enough, having already decided to annex large parts of Ukrainian territory.
With Ukraine Advancing, Reports Of Russian Soldiers Looting In Luhansk
Russian tank in Luhansk
Of all the territories occupied by Russia, the strongest fortifications are located in the eastern Luhansk region. But even there, Moscow’s troops are reportedly beginning to panic in the face of the successive Ukrainian army victories in the neighboring region of Kharkiv.
According to Novoe Vremya, the Luhansk regional military administration Sergey Gaidai said cases have multiplied of looting and cutting off of power and internet connection in Luhansk. “As the local operator explains, this is an order of the occupation authorities - to ensure defense and security," Gaidai said.
Thanks To Iran, Russia Appears To Be Using Drones In Ukraine For The First Time
The UK Defense Ministry revealed it is “highly likely” that Russia deployed uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones, in Ukraine for the first time. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry posted pictures on Tuesday of a destroyed UAV, which had been shot down in the Kharkiv region, in northeast Ukraine.
The device appeared to be an Iranian-made Shahed-136, even though Tehran has denied supplying drones to Russia. The UK concluded that Moscow is “almost certainly increasingly sourcing weaponry” from heavily sanctioned states like Iran or North Korea.
Testimony Of Desperate Russian Soldiers
Russian paratrooper Pavel Filatiev speaking out in an interview
Майкл Наки via Youtube
The deteriorating conditions among Russia’s front line troops have been chronicled over the past few months by a handful of foot soldiers who have spoken out. It may explain why Ukraine’s recent counter-assault has been so successful, writes Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage.
To be sure, these are isolated voices, but are also considered an expression of a much wider set of circumstances and sentiments among the Russian troops.
By far the best known of the soldiers speaking out is paratrooper Pavel Filatiev, who wrote a 140-page book-length chronicle of the two months of the war he spent as part of the battalion that had crossed over from Crimea to launch an assault on Kherson on February 24.
"If you get the order "Forward!," something serious must have happened, maybe Ukrainians are already capturing Rostov (in western Russia) or the Americans have landed on Kamchatka (in the far east of Russia),” he wrote. “No jokes here, I seriously thought at first that something like this might have happened since we went to break across the Ukrainian border and received an order to capture Kherson, I saw no other logical explanation." Read more testimony here:
Russia Energy Revenue Drops To New Low
Russian oil tanks parked at a rail stationwww.flickr.com
Russian oil and gas sales have fallen to their lowest since June 2021 as the West tries to wean itself off Moscow’s energy supplies, according to a report on Russian Finance Ministry data published by Bloomberg.
Energy revenue account for more than one third of the nation’s budget, and the revenues fell 13% from July to August, as well as 3.4% on yearly numbers.
“The refusal to buy Russian oil by some traditional customers in Europe means Moscow has been forced to sell oil at a steep discount in Asian markets, depriving it of the full benefit of higher prices,” reports Bloomberg.
Von der Leyen To Kyiv, Commits Additional 100 Million In EU Aid
\u201cArrived to the annual \ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa situation Report at the invitation of @vonderleyen. I was glad to personally thank Ms. von der Leyen for her contribution to Ukraine's obtaining the status of a candidate for EU membership. Thank you for an important and inspiring meeting. \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 is Europe!\u201d— \u041e\u043b\u0435\u043d\u0430 \u0417\u0435\u043b\u0435\u043d\u0441\u044c\u043a\u0430 (@\u041e\u043b\u0435\u043d\u0430 \u0417\u0435\u043b\u0435\u043d\u0441\u044c\u043a\u0430) 1663097434
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen dedicated much of her annual State of the Union speech Wednesday to the EU’s Ukraine policy, before setting off for a previously unannounced visit to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.
This is von der Leyen’s third visit to the country since the start of the war on February 24. She announced in her morning address in Strasbourg that the EU would provide an additional 100 million euros to "work on the rehabilitation of schools with the first lady" of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska.
Since the start of the war, the European Union has provided military support as part of its 19 billion euros of financial support to Ukraine, along with a series of strict economic sanctions on Russia.
During her state of the Union speech, von der Leyen made Zelenska a guest of honor, praising the first lady for her courage in standing up to "Putin's cruelty." The European Commission president added that "Europe's solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakeable."