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Geopolitics

How Ukrainian Forces Have Thwarted Putin’s Blitzkrieg Plans

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began Thursday morning on multiple fronts was meant to quickly overrun the outnumbered defensive positions. Kyiv-based Livy Bereg reports that it hasn’t turned out that way.

photo of a blown-up tank in snow

A blown-off tank turret lies on the ground on the outskirt of Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform via ZUMA
Valentin Badrak

KYIV — Vladimir Putin’s plans for a blitkreig, rapid all-out assault, have not gone as planned. Reports from the Ukrainian side show surprising ability of the defensive forces to slow the Russian assault.

In war, you can never say which day is going to be hardest. But it was the second day and second night that proved to the Russian invading forces that the blitzkrieg Vladimir Putin was counting on had not gone as planned.

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By the third day, Saturday, street fights with Russian Armed Forces and their sabotage and reconnaissance units played out in several districts of Kyiv. But the danger of conquest of the capital posed by the enemy was averted, as Ukraine's military forces bravely defended Kyiv.

Russian invaders were shocked by the strong defense, the motivation of the army and the unprecedented unity of the Ukrainian nation.


Russian losses on multiple fronts

The Armed Forces of Ukraine had one task in these first days of combat: to withstand the onslaught of a powerful enemy. While Russian troops far outnumber Ukrainians, the defensive forces operated without hesitation. And after four days of intense fighting, these are reports coming in from the field, according to Ukraine’s military sources:

· Two IL-76s shot down by paratroopers of the Russian Armed Forces are a powerful blow to Russia.

· On the afternoon of February 26, some 20 units of Russian troops were destroyed in the northern Chernihiv region. It caused the loss not only of equipment but also a significant number of personnel.

· On Saturday, the Ukrainian Air Force managed to shoot down a modern Russian Su-30 fighter in the Black Sea .

· TSN reported that in Gostomel, a city just outside Kyiv, the Ukrainian Armed Forces defeated a column of elite Russian special forces. The Ukrainian fighters undertook further clearing of the territory from the enemy, during which a key commander of the Russian Rosguard was killed.

These are isolated episodes, but when such stories come in from all corners of Ukraine, the belief in the power of the army grows significantly and creates confidence among an entire nation.

Counting the enemy losses

Still, by Sunday night, Ukraine reported significant overall losses for Russian forces: 27 planes, 26 helicopters, 150 tanks and 4,500 men: these are the registered losses incurred by Russian Armed Forces, . This is no small feat on the part of the Ukrainians, who, in comparison, have reportedly counted 198 deaths.

The Ukrainian General Staff commented that "the enemy's troops are demoralized, they are running out of fuel and food. The enemy is suffering significant losses."

Of course, we should not exaggerate when it comes to a war like this, particularly when it involves a powerful military machine such as Russia. However, the first signs of problems in the Russian forces are beginning to show. And the introduction of reserves suggests that the Russian army may be beginning to lose motivation and confidence.

Such fierce resistance was not anticipated by Moscow. But problems for the Russians do not stop there. Some logistical issues are already beginning to appear: a shortage of ammunition, fuel and lubricants, and even food.

Photo of ID documents of a Russian officer

Photographs of a captured or killed Russian military officer

Livy Bereg

Help from the EU and Turkey

Aside from the main battle occurring on Ukrainian soil, another blow to Russia came from the EU. Not only have European countries made a unilateral move to ban Russian flights from its airspace, but perhaps the most surprising decision came from Turkey, which banned Russian warships from entering the Black Sea.

This is a significant sign that can be attributed to the growth of consolidation within NATO (despite the fact that the decision was implemented at the behest of the Ukrainian government). But the move shows that even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once a keen friend and partner of Vladimir Putin , is turning his back on the decision made by his Russian counterpart.

Civilians at risk, Putin raises stakes

However, as the Russian occupation army begins spreading out across Ukraine, the danger to civilians is growing: a missile hit a high-rise building in Kyiv and a village was shot down by rocket launchers near Kherson.

Russian Armed Forces are no longer keeping their promise of avoiding civilians but are now prepared to take any action, including attacking civilians. For now, they will continue, by any means necessary, to sow panic as well as destroy communication, optimism and hope.

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the comedian who once made people laugh, picks up the gauntlet and becomes the man leading a resistance against Russia, the Ukrainian people, who have swapped pens and keyboards for guns and missiles, are showing belief in him and their country. But their defiance has angered an already vilified Putin, who, on Sunday evening, ordered his nuclear deterrent forces be put on alert, raising the stakes once again. His grip is tightening. Just how strong this grip is, only time will tell.

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Society

The Everyday Weight Of Wearing A Hijab In India

Several Muslim women who wear hijabs share their stories to highlight the discrimination, from disapproving looks to outright insults, they face everyday in India in both their personal and professional lives.

photo of women wearing hijabs during the Muharram procession in Srinagar, India

During the Muharram procession in Srinagar, India

Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images via ZUMA
Seemi Pasha

On September 20, 2022, the government of Karnataka told the Supreme Court that Muslims girls in Udupi were goaded into wearing a hijab to school by the Islamic Popular Front of India (PFI) through social media messages. The state government made the argument while responding to a petition challenging the ban on wearing a hijab to school imposed by Karnataka, and upheld by the state high court. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court that wearing a hijab was part of a "larger conspiracy" orchestrated by the PFI to create social unrest.

On October 13 this year, the Supreme Court of India delivered a split verdict on pleas challenging the Karnataka high court order that had upheld the ban. A constitutional bench comprising the Chief Justice of India will now examine whether Muslim girls can or cannot wear a head scarf in school.

As of December 1 this year, there were 69,598 cases pending before the Supreme Court. The backlog includes petitions challenging the Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 and pleas challenging the government’s decision to dilute Article 370 of the Constitution. These have been pending for more than two years. Despite the urgency of matters that have been placed on the back burner, the apex court is being forced to spend its time deciding whether schoolgoing Muslim girls can get an education while wearing a head scarf, a tradition some Muslims believe is integral their faith.

The ban on wearing a hijab in classrooms may have highlighted the Karnataka government’s intolerance towards minorities, but the bias against the head scarf, it seems, is an old one.

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