When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Ideas

To The Slaughter: Why Putin Can Count On So Many Russians Mobilizing For Their Death

Ever since Russia announced a “partial mobilization” of hundreds of thousands of new recruits, we’ve seen plenty of coverage of those evading the draft. But the real story is how many untrained and under-equipped citizens will blindly follow the Kremlin’s orders.

-Analysis-

From the first days of mobilization in Russia, we have followed reports of the thousands of Russian men of conscription age rushing abroad to flee the draft: buying a one-way plane ticket, driving to the border, even trekking by foot to the safety of a neighboring country.

But this stream of thousands are negligible in the ocean of a nation of 140 million. What we haven’t read about this past week are the masses obediently receiving their summons and marching down to distribution centers.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Some are already now sleeping on a bare floor or in the forest in a tent, waiting to be sent to a war zone with little or no training, equipment or supplies. These tens and soon hundreds of thousands will head to parts southward and westward as part of a senseless and flailing attempt to try to hold back the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

They are, in other words, marching off to the slaughter. And they know it well.

Watch Video Show less

One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Putin's Threats Are More Dangerous Than The Cuban Missile Crisis

Unlike the U.S.-Soviet showdown in 1962, Vladimir Putin's allusions to his nuclear arsenal come with no sense of rules or limits, and with a more distant memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

-Analysis-

PARIS"Once more I wandered down to the town to have a last look at peace.”

It was with this quote from Stefan Zweig's The World of Yesterday in mind that I spent the past hot and dry summer in the French region of Normandy. Zweig had started writing his memoir in 1934, as the Nazi menace was spreading.

Were we living our last summer of peace? The funeral of Edward VII in 1910 preceded the outbreak of World War I by four years. Could it be that the funeral of his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth II, preceded the outbreak of World War III by four months?

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

We are not there yet, but this scenario, although highly unlikely, is nonetheless becoming "possible." I am by nature rather optimistic. I never want to be accused of being a doomsayer, but a new and qualitatively different level of escalation has just been reached by Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Russia has been humiliated on the military front, increasingly isolated on the diplomatic front, abandoned by even its closest ally, China, and criticized by the previously "neutral" great power, India.

Keep reading... Show less

When Did Putin "Turn" Evil? That's Exactly The Wrong Question

Look back over the past two decades, and you'll see Vladimir Putin has always been the man revealed by the Ukraine invasion, an evil and sinister dictator. The Russian leader just managed to mask it, especially because so many chose to see him as a typically corrupt and greedy strongman who could be bribed or reasoned with.

-OpEd-

KYIV — The world knows that Vladimir Putin has power, money and mistresses. So why, ask some, wasn't that enough for him? Why did he have to go start another war?

At its heart, this is the wrong question to ask. For Putin, military expansion is not an adrenaline rush to feed into his existing life of luxury. On the contrary, the shedding of blood for the sake of holding power is his modus operandi, while the fruits of greed and corruption like the Putin Palace in Gelendzhik are more like a welcome bonus.

In the last year, we have kept hearing rhetorical questions like “why did Putin start this war at all, didn't he have enough of his own land?” or “he already has Gelendzhik to enjoy, why fight?” This line of thinking has resurfaced after missile strikes on Ukrainian power grids and dams, which was regarded by many as a simple demonstration of terrorism. Such acts are a manifestation of weakness, some ask, so is Putin ready to show himself weak?

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

However, you will not arrive at the correct answer if the questions themselves are asked incorrectly. For decades, analysts in Russia, Ukraine, and the West have been under an illusion about the nature of the Russian president's personal dictatorship.

Keep reading... Show less
In The News
Irene Caselli

September Is Rolling Ukraine’s Way — Will It Hit A Wall In Rome?

September 23-24

  • Burning hijabs in Iran
  • Elizabeth II’s life in magazine covers
  • One big “flying” sea turtle
  • … and much more.
Watch Video Show less
Ideas
Anna Akage

Draft Dodging And Cannon Fodder: How Mobilization Has Exposed Putin's Big Lie

As much as he tried to, Vladimir Putin could not avoid the nationwide mobilization of new recruits. But now he can no longer hide from a war he chose for his nation — and more than ever, his own destiny is riding on the result.

-Analysis-

Besides all the chest-thumping, Vladimir Putin has been busy this week moving around his administrative chess pieces.

Wednesday’s announcement of the “partial” mobilization of military recruits was preceded by a flurry of legislative activity in the Kremlin: first, coordinating with the pro-Russian authorities in several of the occupied territories of Ukraine, binding referendums were pushed through to officially make conquered land part of Russia. The next day, amendments to the Criminal Code on mobilization and martial law were unanimously adopted in two readings. And immediately after Putin's speech, introducing increased penalties for acts of desertion and refusal to serve in the military.

Checkmate.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

The pieces are in place to escalate the war dramatically, allowing Moscow the pretext that Ukraine’s efforts to take back its land is now an attack on Russian territory.


Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Gregor Schwung

The Xi-Putin Alliance Is Dead, Long Live The Xi-Putin Alliance

The façade of unity between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin was lifted in Uzbekistan last week. But where exactly does the Chinese head of state stand on the Russian invasion of Ukraine? Beijing is still establishing its place in the world, and it remains in contradiction to the West

-Analysis-

Xi Jinping is not out of practice. The Chinese President's public demeanor on his first foreign trip since January 2020 was as confident as ever. When meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, he promptly removed his mask and stood inches away from the Russian president, smiling affably.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

What looked routine to the outside world was a diplomatic tightrope walk that the Chinese leader felt compelled to perform. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since February, when they proclaimed a "friendship without borders" at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Shortly thereafter, Putin launched his campaign against Ukraine – and the world wondered whether Putin had used his Olympic visit to obtain Xi's approval for his invasion.

Watch Video Show less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Cameron Manley

After Major Setback In Ukraine, 7 Options For What Putin Could Do Next

Negotiate? Stall? Double down? The Russian leader suddenly finds himself in front of a situation that offers no obvious good choices. Doing nothing, however, is not an option.

In just one week, the war in Ukraine has made a full about-turn. Ukraine’s armed forces went from an apparent slow ceding of land to launching two hugely successful counter offensives around Kharkiv in the nation’s east, and in the south near the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

As of Friday, Kyiv claims to have recaptured some 8,000 square kilometers of its territory, taking back in a matter of days what it took Russia months to originally conquer.

By now, there is no doubt that Russia is in serious trouble. President Vladimir Putin’s tentative encounter this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his most important potential international ally, only confirms that his options for reversing the recent battlefield defeats may be rapidly shrinking.

Watch Video Show less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Notes From The Front: How The Russian Army Is Rotting From Within

The deteriorating conditions among Russia’s front line troops, chronicled by a handful of foot soldiers who have spoken out, may explain why Ukraine’s recent counter-assault has been so successful.

Russia’s ongoing loss of territory in Ukraine can be explained by tactical errors on the part of Moscow’s generals, and the outsized ambitions of Vladimir Putin. But no less important — and evidently related — is the collapse of rank-and-file Russian soldiers.

The sudden collapse of Moscow’s units, having ceded a total of more than 3,000 square miles from both the northeastern region near Kharkiv and southern areas around Kherson, comes amid growing disaffection among Russian soldiers who went to war in Ukraine. Much of it has been chronicled through confessions and critiques that have begun to appear in the media and on social networks.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

To be sure, these are isolated voices among the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of those who for various reasons decided to abandon the army. But they are no doubt an expression of a much wider set of circumstances and sentiments among foot soldiers fighting on behalf of Moscow.

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.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Benjamin Quenelle

Vladimir Potanin, How The Mega-Rich Russian Oligarch Defies Western Sanctions

French daily Les Echos profiles Vladimir Potanin, Russia's incarnation of a never-turn-back oligarch. The owner of Nornickel, Russia's leading company in the metals and mining industry, Potanin continues to grow his business despite Western sanctions. He recently took over French bank Société Générale's Russian subsidiary — with the Kremlin's approval, of course.

“Me an oligarch? No… On the other hand, Vladimir Potanin — with his politics and business — is the true incarnation of an oligarch!”

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Among Russia's top 10 billionaires, relationships have always been riddled with fratricidal wars involving millions of dollars and petty phrases.

Watch Video Show less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Volodymyr Horbulin and Valentin Badrak

Russia's Next New Strategy: Try To Stall Until 2023

Russia's progress on the frontline has stalled. But without weapons promised by the West, Ukraine has not been able to carry out decisive counteroffensives. The West's indecisiveness risks the war being dragged out until next year — which is exactly what Putin wants.

-Analysis-

KYIV — For about a month, the front line has remained almost unchanged. Russian troops have gone as far as they can.

Obviously, this situation annoys the Kremlin, forcing it to look for new, rather unconventional ways to replenish human reserves and worn-out weapons. But Moscow is also playing for time, believing that the onset of cold weather will play into its hands, as an impending energy crisis spreads through Europe.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Moreover, Putin needs time to restore the Russian army’s ability to fight. For this very reason, a day after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a deliberate slowdown in the military campaign in Ukraine, purportedly to reduce civilian casualties, Putin issued a decree to increase the size of the Russian army.

Watch Video Show less
In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin, Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Putin’s New Doctrine, BoJo Bids Farewell, First COVID Inhaler

👋 Ko na mauri!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Vladimir Putin unveils a new “Russian World” foreign policy doctrine, Liz Truss officially takes over from Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister, and Instagram gets slapped with a hefty fine. Meanwhile, Spain’s Agencia SINC looks at how the distorted and often negative portrayal of women in medicine is being challenged by the research community.

[*Gilbertese, Kiribati]

Watch Video Show less
EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS