When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Anna Akage

See more by Anna Akage

Mobilized men say goodbye to their families​ at a station in Moscow
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 VideoShow less
Pro-Russians Claim 99% Victory In Referendums - What Happens Now?
In The News

Pro-Russians Claim 99% Victory In Referendums - What Happens Now?

The so-called referendums that have been going on for the past five days in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine have come to an end. With all votes reportedly counted, the results show exactly the kind of majority in favor of joining Russia that has prompted many to consider the referendums a “sham” that violated international law.

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 head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, said on his Telegram channel that 99.23% of votes cast were for "joining the Donetsk People's Republic to the Russian Federation.” Elena Kravchenko, the head of the election commission of the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), said 98.42% favored annexation by Moscow. In Kherson, 87.05% were in favor of the motion; and in Zaporizhzhya, the head of the election commission said the final tally was 93.11% voting to join Russia.

James Kariuki, the UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, has urged the United Nations to reject the results of the referendums in Ukraine. Speaking during a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the war, Kariuki called the votes "an egregious violation" of the principles of the UN Charter.

Watch VideoShow less
Why I Fled: Meet The Russian Men Choosing Exile Over Putin's War
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Why I Fled: Meet The Russian Men Choosing Exile Over Putin's War

After Vladimir Putin announced a national military draft, thousands of men are fleeing the country. Independent Russian news platform Important Stories spoke to three men at risk of conscription who've already fled.

A mix of panic, violence and soul-searching has followed Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a partial mobilization of 300,000 men to fight the increasingly difficult “special operation” in Ukraine.

Soon after the announcement, protests were reported in Moscow and around the country, with at least 2,000 people being detained during the past several days. It is still unclear how successful these protests will be.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

More notably, the mobilization decree also prompted more than 260,000 men of conscription age to leave left the country. Observers believe that number will continue to grow, especially as long as the borders stay open. Almost all men aged 18-65 are eligible, but some professions, including banking and the media, are exempt.

Vazhnye Istorii, an independent Russian investigative news platform based in Latvia, spoke to three of the many thousands who have chosen to flee the country.

Watch VideoShow less
photo of young men walking on the road
In The News

Tracking Massive Russian Exodus, From Finland To Mongolia

Russia’s neighbors — from Finland in the west to Mongolia 3,100 miles (5,076 km) to the east — are being flooded with the arrival of men fleeing the national draft announced last week as Moscow's invasion of Ukraine falters. Some 2,000 miles to the south of Helsinki, at the border with Georgia, there are reports of long lines of cars and bicycles trying to leave and Russian crackdowns on men trying to flee.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In the first two days after Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization, 261,000 men of conscription age have left the country. Observers believe that has likely doubled since. The most popular destinations are the neighboring countries where one can enter without a visa or even without an international passport, such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia.

But Finland too has reported a major uptick, with nearly 19,000 arriving, compared to 9,000 crossing in the opposite direction. "The arrival rate is about double what it was a week ago," Mert Sasioglu of the Finnish border guard told AFP.

Watch VideoShow less
Is He Bluffing? Warnings Issued After Putin’s Nuclear Threat
In The News

Is He Bluffing? Warnings Issued After Putin’s Nuclear Threat

Backed in a corner with this month’s successful Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin made allusions last week to Moscow’s nuclear arsenal. Putin’s veiled threat has prompted a mixture of warnings and posturing over the past 72 hours.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a weekend interview on U.S. network NBC that “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.” Sullivan added that the United States has been in frequent and direct contact with Russia to discuss the situation in Ukraine as well as Putin’s actions and threats.

Watch VideoShow less
photo of a young russian soldier
Ideas

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 VideoShow less
Kyiv Forces Claim Control Of River Oski As Counter-Offensive Continues
In The News

Kyiv Forces Claim Control Of River Oski As Counter-Offensive Continues

Ukrainian forces have reportedly gained control of the east bank of the River Oski, preparing for an assault on Russia's forces occupying the eastern Donbas region. Russia's army has been almost completely pushed out of the northern Kharkiv region and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the next offensive targeting Luhansk was in the works.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Though Zelensky repeated that victory would only come when Russian forces were completely driven from Ukrainian territory, Kyiv’s forces are working to establish a foothold on the eastern side of the Oskil and liberate the city of Lyman, which was seized by Russian forces in May. Taking the city of 20,000 would represent a major breakthrough, bringing momentum to free other cities in the region, which were occupied this spring.

Watch VideoShow less
Photo of military school cadets of the Russian army marching in Moscow
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

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 VideoShow less
​Border between Russia's Belgorod Region and Ukraine's Kharkiv Region
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine’s Offensive Raises A Big Question: Is It Time To Attack Inside Russia?

The successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast has brought Kyiv’s troops to the border, now with the artillery capacity to strike inside Russian territory. What are risks of launching a “counter-invasion”? What are risks of not doing so?

The Ukrainian Armed Forces' startling counter-offensive has entered its fifth day, with overnight news outdated by lunchtime as the advance continues at a pace unprecedented since the start of the war. Since the beginning of September, the Ukrainian army has liberated more than 3,000 square miles of territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Meanwhile in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin appears to be in denial as his troops collapse and retreat, and his generals panic. Putin spent the weekend presiding over the grand opening of a new Ferris wheel in Moscow, and his spokesman released a statement saying all is going according to plan.

Watch VideoShow less
Russian Debacle Continues, Is Kherson Next?
In The News

Russian Debacle Continues, Is Kherson Next?

Ukraine’s lightning-fast counter-offensive continues Monday, as Kyiv’s chief commander General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi declared more than 3,000 square kilometers of territory recaptured since the start of the month, forcing Russian troops from more than 20 towns and villages.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Ukrainian soldiers are in firm control of the northeastern Kharkiv region, having arrived at the border with Russia. Moscow appears to be reeling from the losses as thousands of Russian troops abandoned their positions, leaving behind huge stocks of ammunition and equipment.

Vitaly Ganchev, the Russian-installed head of Moscow's occupation administration in the Kharkiv region, acknowledged that Ukraine's troops had broken through, ordering civilians to evacuate from the Russian-occupied parts. Ukrainian forces outnumbered Russian troops by eight times during the counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region, a Russian-installed official said.

Watch VideoShow less
​UK Prime Minister Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street on Sept. 7
Ideas

Why Ukrainians Have Real Doubts About Liz Truss

Britain's new prime minister has not hidden the fact that she is focused on the domestic economic crisis gripping her country. That could sway her from the hardline anti-Russia stance of outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson. Also, Truss has flip-flopped before.

-Analysis-

KYIV — Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, then Foreign Minister Liz Truss took the same strict line as her former boss Boris Johnson. The words "push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine" belong to her.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Now that Truss is British Prime Minister, will her actions be as decisive as her words? A great advantage for Ukraine is that Truss has been keeping her finger on the pulse of international politics for a year in her role as head of the UK foreign ministry. This can, for example, significantly simplify and speed up all subsequent decisions on increasing military aid.

In July, she also said that the UK "will do everything possible to ensure Ukraine wins the war and recovers. We need to be in this for the long haul."

And yet ...

Watch VideoShow less
Putin’s About-Face Suddenly Puts Grain Deal At Risk
In The News

Putin’s About-Face Suddenly Puts Grain Deal At Risk

Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he wanted to reopen terms of the grain deal signed just over a month ago, which has allowed Ukraine to export its grain via the Black Sea. Speaking at an economic forum in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, Putin accused Kyiv and the West of using the terms of the deal to deliver goods to the European Union and Turkey at the expense of developing countries.

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

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

This sudden reversal puts at risk what was the first major breakthrough in negotiations between the warring parties, and seen as key to limiting a potential worldwide food crisis.

Watch VideoShow less