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TOPIC: russian military

Green

Environmental Damage Of Russia's War Is Massive — And Extends Far Beyond Ukraine

Warfare is not only traumatic for people and infrastructure but also has a large impact on the natural environment. The environmental damages of the Ukraine war will likely be be so great that even neighboring countries will suffer their effects.

WARSAW— The infrastructure used to store and transport oil is often a prime target during war, and the resulting spills and fires can contribute hugely to greenhouse gas emissions.

During the 1991 Gulf War, burning oil wells contributed to more than 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, which had long-term and wide-ranging consequences, including high levels of soot deposits and increased melting of icebergs. Carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere from burning forests, peat bogs and wetlands, set alight by shelling, also cause large environmental costs, as does the increased traffic of people and vehicles that come with refugees and humanitarian aid.

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The war in Ukraine is no exception. A new report by Climate Focus, “Climate Damage Caused by the War in Ukraine," shows that military and wartime activities have contributed as much as 100 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions — equal to the entire annual emissions of the Netherlands.

Rebuilding infrastructure, mainly housing, destroyed during the war is responsible for nearly half of these emissions. In some places, cleaning and rebuilding efforts began as soon as Russian occupiers left. Since last spring, for example, the city of Bucha has become unrecognizable. The city has been equipped with new sidewalks, repaired streets and new lighting fixtures. Projects to rebuild housing and highways are ongoing. The country has also built several new roads and bridges.

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After Wagner? How The Russian National Guard Could Become Putin's True "Personal Army"

A bill introduced to the Russian State Duma this week would allow the National Guard of Russia to receive tanks and other heavy military equipment and could turn the structure directly under Putin's command into a second army.

MOSCOW — For months, the Wagner Private Military Company was referred to as Putin's "private army." But after last month's Wagner uprising, the moniker might now be bestowed upon Russia's internal military force — the Rosgvardiya.

Established in 2016, the Russian National Guard, or Rosgvardiya, is the youngest military branch to be added to Russia’s security apparatus. Celebrated annually since 2017 on March 27 as National Guard Day, the distinct military unit acts independently from the regular military and consistently participates in Moscow’s Victory Day parades.

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Rather than a fully equipped battle force, it is entrusted with protecting Russia's borders, controlling arms trafficking, combating terrorism and organized crime, protecting public order, and guarding state facilities.

But it is also under the direct command of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who critics claim founded it as a personal army to deal with internal tensions.

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Russian Sex Workers — Invisible Victims Of The War In Ukraine

With increased aggression from clients, police repression and a sudden decrease in their livelihoods, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is impacting this already-vulnerable group of women.

MOSCOW — “When you are sitting in a prison cell wearing only a thong, you’ll sign anything to get out."

As the war with Ukraine rages on, this is the reality for Russian sex workers: Their lives include increasingly aggressive clients, and police taking advantage of them.

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Since the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the number of sex industry clients has also declined, which many drafted to fight, while others have fled Russia.

One autumn day in 2022, Kristina (whose name has been changed at her request) was in the middle shift at a brothel. She did not want to reveal the city in which she works, or what her specific place of work looks like. But, knowing what we know about the Russian industry, brothels are typically located in a three-story detached house, apartment or basement.

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Putin vs. Prigozhin: Russia's Army In Chaos, The Wagner Group On The Brink

The owner of the Wagner mercenary group says he will refuse an order from Russia’s defense ministry to fold his fighters into the regular military but it may be a sign that the Russian government finally wants to get rid of the increasingly powerful mercenary chief.

-Analysis-

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the one time close friend of Putin and founder of the Wagner Group mercenary outfit, took a leading role in the war in Ukraine just months after Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Kyrylo Danylchenko

Deleted Russian Military Report Reveals Scale Of Future Mobilization

Moscow quickly deleted an article detailing the mobilization process and the formation of new units, which made clear that potential Russian conscripts have two choices: flee or fight.

KYIV — An article signed by the head of the Mobilization Department of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Yevhen Burdinsky, was published in the most recent issue of the Russian Ministry of Defense magazine. The article delved into some of the details of the mobilization process to sign up new recruits, which is both vast and facing massive difficulties. Within hours, the article was deleted.

But Ukrainian news outlet Livy Bereg had time to download the report, and has published an analysis of the article by journalist and military expert Kyrylo Danylchenko:

At the beginning of the hostilities, the so-called people's militias of Donbas had 35,000 staff members, according to Ukrainian intelligence. As a result of the mobilization last fall, Russia recruited 80,000 more. According to the Eastern Human Rights Group, by mid-June 2022, about 140,000 people had been subjected to forced mobilization in Donbas.

Let's consider that the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics (in occupied Ukraine) use different police units and paramilitary formations. For a population of 3.5 million, the number of conscripts is shocking — one third of non-disabled men are forcibly mobilized or involved in the security sector. Moscow, in other words, uses the inhabitants of the occupied territories as a kind of human battering ram.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Vazhnyye Istorii

A First Look At Russia's Ukraine War Veterans, Struggling Back On The Homefront

Hundreds of thousands of Russians have taken part in the war. On returning, many face difficulties to return to normal life and finding work, as independent Russian news outlet Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories reports.

MOSCOW — Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians have taken part in the war. They range from professional soldiers, National Guardsmen, reservists and conscripts to mercenaries of illegal armed groups, including former prisoners.

The exact number of those who survived and returned home is unknown. In the past year alone, about 50,000 citizens received the status “combat veteran”. The actual number of returnees from the front is far higher, but it is often extremely difficult to obtain veteran status and veteran benefits.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Bohdan Myroshnichenko

The Foreign And Domestic Forces That Keep Russia's Military-Industrial Complex Turning

The continuing heavy shelling of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities shows that Russia still has more missiles than Ukrainians would have hoped. The look through the web of Kremlin diktats and murky international commerce that keeps the Russian military churning out hardware that drives the war in Ukraine

The continuing heavy shelling of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities shows that Russia still has more missiles than Ukrainians would have hoped.

For more than a year, Russia has denied that it has transitioned to a full war-time economy, pretending instead that the so-called "special military operation" is going according to plan. Meanwhile, the Kremlin is scrounging for every possible resource to support the war, spending record amounts to strengthen the army.

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Western sanctions were supposed to make this impossible – or at least complicated. But so far, Russia is still increasing its military spending and arms production, and finding ways to import prohibited components.

How is the Russian military-industrial complex increasing its capacity – and how much is the government spending on war?

In 2023, Russia will spend a record $357 billion from the federal budget on army and security forces – a 60% increase compared to 2021. Every third ruble from the federal budget goes to the war in Ukraine or to support the regime.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg: part of the war spending has been disguised in the budgets for education, social programs and support to individual regions and the economy overall.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Pierre Haski

"Grandpa Vlad" — Wagner Boss Prigozhin Is Now Mocking Putin Directly

Head of the Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin's furious videos have been aimed in the past at Putin's deputies and generals. Now, he's taking aim at the tsar himself.

-OpEd-

What exactly is Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, up to? This question has been on everyone's minds for months, but now he has truly crossed a line.

Prigozhin was already engaged in open conflict with top military brass and even the Russian Defense Minister. However, Tuesday, he launched a direct attack on Vladimir Putin himself, depicting him as a comical "grandfather" in a video meant to ridicule him. He specifically chose to do it on Victory Day, the day of the anniversary of Russia’s triumph over Nazism, just as Putin was preparing to preside over the parade on Red Square.

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In the video, Prigozhin theatrically portrays his ongoing conflict with Russian military authorities. Despite having no military background, the corpulent Prigozhin dresses in military fatigues and a bulletproof vest, with Kalashnikov magazines visibly strapped to his belly.

He narrates receiving a menacing letter from the Russian Ministry of Defense, threatening him with charges of "treason" if he were to withdraw his troops from Bakhmut, the Ukrainian city he has been striving to capture for weeks.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Agents.Media

With Ukraine's Counter-Offensive Looming, Russia Cracks Down On Draft Dodgers

The law gives authorities unlimited opportunities to impose travel bans, prohibit foreign travel, grant loans, execute real estate transactions and block driver licenses of those who don't show up for conscription. But will it be enough to supply Moscow's military with the trained forces it needs?

-Analysis-

A new Russian law will overhaul the country's Soviet-era conscription system and make it harder for Russians to dodge a new draft — but some observers say it may not even work, and will likely create opportunities for corruption and abuse.

The government insists the changes are needed to avoid a repeat of the chaos last year when thousands were recruited for the front in Ukraine, but as a rumored Ukrainian counteroffensive looms, many Russians fear a second wave of mobilization is imminent.

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Previously, military registration and enlistment offices had to serve notices in person, which meant people could dodge the summons by hiding from enlistment officers, explains independent Russian publication Agents.Media.

Under the new law, notices can be sent digitally through the Russian government's online portal Gosuslugi. Recipients have seven days to report to a recruitment center before they can face legal penalties. Deleting a Gosuslugi account won't help: the summons is considered to have been served seven days after it is registered in a government database that collects the data of people eligible for military service.

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Ideas
Anna Akage

The "Good Russians" Debate Is Back — And My Rage Just Grows Deeper

A Ukrainian journalist considers the controversy over the shutting down of exiled, independent Russian television station TV Dozhd. Can Russians be opposed to Putin's war and yet support the troops?

-Essay-

What's been unfolding in Latvia this week is minor compared to the brutality that continues every day in Ukraine. Still, it is telling, and is forcing us to try to imagine what will happen in the future to Russia, and Russians, and the rest of us in the region.

What has been a largely respected and independent Russian television channel, TV Dozhd ("TV Rain") was forced off the air in Latvia — where it's been based since being forced into exile at the start of the war in Ukraine — after Alexei Korostelev, one the channel's main anchors, said on live TV that Dozhd viewers could help the Russian army soldiers and urged viewers to write about mobilization violations.

Korostelev was immediately fired, and the television's management reiterated its absolute opposition to the war and repeated calls for Moscow to immediately withdraw its troops.

Nevertheless, the next day Latvia — a fierce Ukraine ally — revoked the channel's license to broadcast

It is a rude return to the "good Russian" debate, which spread across independent newspapers and social media in the weeks after Moscow's invasion. What must we demand from Russians who are opposed to the war and to Vladimir Putin? Should we expect that they not only want an end to the fighting, but should also be pushing for the defeat of their own nation's military?

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In The News
Anna Akage, Sophia Constantino and Emma Albright

G20 Pushing China To Join Resolution That Would Isolate Russia

French President Macron used his bilateral meeting with Xi Jinping to try to convince China to take a tougher line with Moscow.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave the clearest indication Tuesday that the G20 members are moving toward a resolution critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which would also denounce any threats about using nuclear weapons.

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"This is a consensus that is gaining ground here," Scholz told journalists in Bali.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Cameron Manley

Chechen Pride Or Kremlin Ambitions? Tracking Kadyrov's Long Game

Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman leader of Chechnya, is one of the most recognizable (and hawkish) figures in the orbit of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But beyond his online bluster, he is keeping his options open as Moscow loses ground in the war in Ukraine.

-Analysis-

In a war where most Russian military commanders choose to remain in the shadows, and regular soldiers are prohibited from using their phones, one man stands out from the rest: Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya.

The day Russian President Vladimir Putin declared his "special military operation," it’s hard to forget the 12,000 "volunteer" soldiers amassed in the central square in the regional capital, Grozny, as Kadyrov hailed the start of the invasion and pledged to send a wave of Chechen volunteers into Ukraine.

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Eight months ago, at the moment of the highest stakes for Putin, it was a clear sign that the once rebellious Muslim-majority republic could be counted on in Moscow.

Ukraine's military intelligence tracks the origins of the Russian forces who've invaded their country — those from the Chechen Republic are referred to as "Kadyrovtsy."

But while the 46-year-old leader's flexing continue, the last two months of Ukrainian gains on the battlefield — and Moscow's increasingly brutal response and ominous threats — have altered the equation.

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