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What Fog Of War Can't Hide, Putin Is Doomed To Fail

Since day one of the war in Ukraine, military theorist Martin van Creveld has been analyzing the problems facing Russia. He recognized Putin’s supposed retreats as the deceptions that they are. But the current situation is even more complex than it appears.

What Fog Of War Can't Hide, Putin Is Doomed To Fail

A Ukrainian soldier stands guard with a gun at a military checkpoint in Kyiv

Martin van Creveld*

-Analysis-

As far as we can tell, the situation in Ukraine is above all else chaotic. We first heard reports that Russian troops were advancing on every front, then Ukrainian forces reported success after success, claiming to be slowing down and in some places even halting the invader's advance.

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Cities are reported to be occupied, then we hear they are still disputed. Convoys are halted for many days, but no one knows why. Some reports claim the Russians are running out of reinforcements, while others say they have only deployed three-quarters of their troops so far. Moscow says it will shift its focus from Kyiv to eastern Ukraine, but then we see that the capital is still under intense assault.

Both sides accuse each other of war crimes and reporting losses that are obviously underestimates, unreliable and unbelievable. A maternity ward has been shelled, although it’s not clear whether this was a deliberate target or, as it euphemistically called, “collateral damage.”

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Geopolitics

Is Odessa Next? Putin Sees A Gateway To Moldova — And Chance For Revenge

After the fall of Mariupol, Vladimir Putin appears to have his eye on another iconic southern coastal city, with a strong identity and strategic location.

Odessa after a missile attack

Vincenzo Circosta/ZUMA
Anna Akage

Air strikes on the port city of Odessa have become more frequent over the past three weeks, most often hitting residential buildings, shopping malls, and critical infrastructure rather than military targets. The missiles arrive from naval vessels on the Black Sea and across the sea from the nearby Crimean coast, with the toll including multiple civilian deaths and a growing sense of panic. In Odessa, fears are rising that it could follow Mariupol as Vladimir Putin’s next principal target.

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Since the beginning of the war, more than half of the population — about 500,000 people — have left the city, even as others are flowing into Odessa from other war-torn regions in southern Ukraine, where the situation is even worse: people from Nikolayev, Kherson, Crimea, and even from Moldovan Transnistria.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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