Vladimir Putin had planned to roll through Ukraine and splinter the West. While it has not gone according to plan, the destruction and uncertainty left in the path of the invasion has shaken the world.
Few will forget waking up to the news that Thursday morning in February. It was, exactly three months ago, in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 24, when Vladimir Putin sent his armies, missiles and fighter jets across Ukraine’s borders, from points north and east, launching a full-scale invasion of a sovereign nation of 44 million.
It has, by all accounts, not gone as Putin had planned: the Ukrainian military resisting the much larger, better-equipped Russian invaders; the West unified in its support of Kyiv, through arms shipments and harsh sanctions against Moscow; steadily rising opposition at home.
Still, Ukraine has suffered greatly, with thousands of soldiers and civilians dead, wide evidence of war crimes and an estimated 14.5 million people displaced, either within the country or abroad.
And, of course, the impact has extended beyond the borders of Ukraine: a reshaping of the geopolitical map, supply chains shut down, food shortages and the worst risk of nuclear confrontation in 60 years.
It is notable that Tuesday, on U.S. President Joe Biden’s first trip to Asia, the talk was largely about Ukraine. Biden used the timing and setting to send a warning to China against taking similar aggressive action toward Taiwan or elsewhere. “This is more than just a European issue. It’s a global issue,” Biden said of the crisis in Ukraine. “International law, human rights must always be defended regardless of where they’re violated in the world.”
In The Kremlin, Nobody’s Happy With Putin
Three months since the start of the invasion, pessimism prevails in the Kremlin’s assessments of what is happening on the ground, reports independent exiled Russian media Meduza, citing well-placed government sources.
Original plans to push the Ukrainian leadership from power in Kyiv have given way to more limited ambitions to take territory in the southeastern region of Donbas — and even that has stalled. One source close to the Kremlin leadership told Meduza: "We can't live like before, we can't talk about development. But somehow we can live - gray imports, trade with China and India."
At the same time, few can envision a realistic scenario in which the authorities could end hostilities in Ukraine, and maintain their grip on power. "Meduza already wrote that a few weeks after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin's political bloc began to develop strategies for how this could be achieved, but they have been unable to come up with anything.”
Sources close to the presidential administration make it clear that the position of the security-service agents is simple: "They believe that once they have been involved in this, they must not let any weaknesses prevail. They say they must act more firmly. By "tougher", they mean a broad mobilization of reservists and a war "until victory" - ideally until Kyiv is captured.
However, the Kremlin is not ready to mobilize. In April, Meduza's sources close to the Kremlin, citing the results of public surveying, said that even Russians who support "special operations" are not ready to fight themselves, or to send their relatives to the front.
At the same time, the sources note that the "peace party" - represented by many oligarchs and the majority of "civilian" officials - is also dissatisfied with Putin's actions, since it does not see any real steps on his part to negotiate with Ukraine. This power bloc is particularly concerned about the imploding Russian economy.
Russians Place Missiles in Belarus, 30 Miles From Ukraine Border
Iskander-M mobile short range ballistic missile systems roll down Moscow's Red Square during a Victory Day military
Russian troops have deployed Iskander-M tactical missile systems in Belarus, 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Ukraine's border, and are strengthening their positions near the Russian-Ukrainian border.
"The threat of missile and air strikes on the objects of our state from the territory of the Republic of Belarus is growing," read a release from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Belarus military units continue to spread out along areas of the Belarusian-Ukrainian border in the Brest and Gomel regions, where they can shell major cities such as Lutsk, Rivne, Zhytomyr, and Kyiv.
Belarus’ contested president, Alexander Lukashenko, claims that his country is not an aggressor in the Russian-Ukrainian war, although columns of military equipment entered Ukraine from its territory at the beginning of the war.
A Russian Military Base Inside Occupied Ukraine?
The pro-Russian new leaders of the occupied Ukrainian region of Kherson Oblast will ask to place a Russian military base in the region, said Kirill Stremousov, whom Russian state news agency RIA Novosti refers to as "the deputy head of the military-civilian administration." The Kherson region has been under Russian control since mid-March.
"There should be a military base of the Russian Federation in the Kherson region. We will ask for it, and the whole population is interested in it. This, above all, is vital and will guarantee the security of the region and its inhabitants," Stremousov said.
Veteran Russian Diplomat “Ashamed,” Resigns In Protest Of War On Ukraine
Boris Bondarev, a 20-year veteran of Russia’s diplomatic service, announced his resignation on Monday to protest his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian official posted a public statement on Linkedin condemning Russia’s actions and describing the invasion as an “aggressive war”. He also wrote: "for 20 years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year.”
Following the post, the U.S. state department said that Bondarev’s resignation demonstrates that even with the Kremlin’s propaganda, there are still people willing to stand up against Vladimir Putin’s war: “it takes immense bravery to stand up to an oppressor, and it requires courage to speak truth to power”, said a spokesperson for the department.
Colombia Teaching Ukrainian Soldiers De-miming Techniques
The Defense Ministry of Colombia has just announced on their website that the country will deploy a team of its soldiers to Europe in order to train Ukrainian troops on mine clearance including tactical procedures to remove landmines and other explosives.
Defense Minister, Diego Molano Aponte, said in a tweet that eleven Colombian military engineers will travel to an undisclosed European country to train the Ukraine soldiers. Colombia has spent decades battling radial leftist rebels and drug traffickers.
Food Shortages Could Cause More Deaths Than The War
Wheat field in Ukraine
The food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine could have catastrophic global impacts, warns UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
"There could be a lot of hunger and indeed even famine that could dwarf the numbers involved in the war itself," he told Sky News. Shapps met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Minister Oleksander Kubrakov, to discuss ways of exporting grain out of the country after Russia blocked Ukraine’s sea ports.
Ukraine’s deputy minister, Yuliia Svyrydenko, also asked for help in creating safe passages to enable the export of grain stuck in the country, fearing the blockade could lead to world hunger. The inability for Ukraine to export grain since the start of the war has sent global prices soaring.
Ukraine Army Fighting To Keep Severodonetsk
Russian forces are trying to take over Severodonetsk, in the eastern Donbas region. If they succeed, this would give the Kremlin control over almost all of Luhansk. But the Ukrainian army is still in control for the moment.
Regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, wrote on Telegram that "the Russians concentrated almost all their forces, namely 25 battalion tactical groups to take the city".
Russia has refocused its war efforts in the Donbas region and if they succeed in taking over both the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, Moscow could claim victory in the war.
Kharkiv Subway Reopens After Months Of Serving As Shelter
Kharkiv Metro Station Shelter
The mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, announced Tuesday that the subway system will be running again for the first time since the invasion began, when the underground stations served as bomb shelters.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that the citizens had been relocated to dormitories, far away from shelling. "If necessary, people can use the subway as a bomb shelter, especially subway underpasses," he added during a television announcement.