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And Russia's Interests? No Good Scenario From Ukraine Invasion

A top analyst at one of Moscow's most prestigious research institutes comes down clear and strong: Russia's military invasion of Ukraine will leave the country isolated on the world stage, with grave consequences for the country's future.

And Russia's Interests? No Good Scenario From Ukraine Invasion

Missile strikes on administration buildings in Central Kharkiv

Sergey Utkin


MOSCOW — The military operation in Ukraine poses long-term challenges for Russia.

Sanctions and other measures may appear to be a temporary outburst of indignation, but one should be under no illusions. If the talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives once started and immediately paused do not lead to substantive agreements — and such an outcome is highly likely — pressure on Russia may continue for at least as long as Russian military forces remain in Ukraine.

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Having launched an operation in Ukraine, Russia went all in, challenging the country's development goals that Russian ministries and research centers worked so hard to achieve. The business people and investors who came to Russia in the old reality had completely different plans for the future, which are unlikely to be adapted to the new reality. Few and infrequently will want, and indeed can, travel between Russia and the West over the closed airspace.

The West is not the whole world, but other parts of the world are closely linked to Western financial and economic systems, and it will be increasingly difficult for them to ignore or evade the restrictions imposed on Russia.

We must save ourselves

Even if China, verbally sharing the pathos of the fight against American hegemony, supports us here, it will constantly and reasonably focus on its own interests.

We will have to save ourselves from our own difficult situation.

Objectively, such a course implies huge economic losses and destroying the way of life of entire social classes who benefited from integration into the global world.

The control over Ukraine apparently derived from the planned "demilitarization" and "denazification" will be problematic, costly and fragile. In recent years, let alone days, Ukrainians have fully proved their subjectivity and, once under Russian control, they would look for any opportunity to get rid of it.

Nursing staff placing sand bags near the window for protection in Ukraine's Kramatorsk city hospital

Andriy Andriyenko/SOPA Images/ZUMA

No positive outcome in sight

If under the current conditions the Ukrainian side accepted any, even legally binding, obligations in matters of security, Donbas, or Crimea, they would be perceived in the world as imposed by force and therefore inferior.

Thus, it remains unclear what can be considered a good outcome of a large-scale military operation. Its curtailment without agreements will lead Ukraine to return to interaction with the West in the military-political confrontation with Russia with tripled energy.

It's time to admit the military operation's costs are too high

A further course towards the subjugation of Ukraine by Moscow promises decades of the most difficult international isolation and confrontation, with the West in a slightly different configuration, which also does not promise us any positive prospects. An agreement on the mutual renunciation of the Western countries, Ukraine and Russia from their maximalist positions and the agreement on the principles of peaceful coexistence is not yet in sight.

The military operation came as a complete surprise to everyone, including the elites and the expert community. It's time to admit that its costs are too high, and winning prospects are not in sight.

Sergey Utkin is the Head of the Strategic Assessment Section at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences

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The Pope's Bronchitis Can't Hide What Truly Ails The Church — Or Whispers Of Succession

It is not only the health of the Pope that worries the Holy See. From the collapse of vocations to the conservative wind in the USA, there are many ills to face.

 Pope Francis reaches over to tough the hands of devotees during his  General Audience at the Vatican.​

November 29, 2023: Pope Francis during his wednesday General Audience at the Vatican.

Evandro Inetti/ZUMA
Gianluigi Nuzzi

ROME — "How am I? I'm fine... I'm still alive, you know? See, I'm not dead!"

With a dose of irony and sarcasm, Pope Francis addressed those who'd paid him a visit this past week as he battled a new lung inflammation, and the antibiotic cycles and extra rest he still must stick with on strict doctors' orders.

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The Pope is dealing with a sensitive respiratory system; the distressed tracheo-bronchial tree can cause asthmatic reactions, with the breathlessness in his speech being the most obvious symptom. Tired eyes and dark circles mark his swollen face. A sense of unease and bewilderment pervades and only diminishes when the doctors restate their optimism about his general state of wellness.

"The pope's ailments? Nothing compared to the health of the Church," quips a priest very close to the Holy Father. "The Church is much worse off, marked by chronic ailments and seasonal illnesses."

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