Putin seems to be trying to please critics ahead of the New Year

The war in Ukraine is reaching somber milestones that Russian President Vladimir Putin probably never anticipated when it began earlier this year. Russia is on the verge of losing 100,000 troops as the war enters its 300th day.

Putin appeared to be making an attempt to please some of his wartime opponents on Wednesday. This happened while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in Washington DC rubbing elbows with America’s leaders and delivering a televised address to Congress.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank published its daily analysis of the war, stating that Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu acknowledged their country’s shortcomings during the 10 months of war. The two headed the Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) Collegium in Moscow, where the main discussion was the war in Ukraine.

Wladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an expanded meeting of the Board of the Russian Defense Ministry December 21, 2022 at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow.
Photo by SERGEY FADEICHEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The ISW report notes that Putin not only set parameters for Russia in the ongoing war, but also appeased pro-war advocates in his own country.

“Putin has intensified his efforts to make peace with the critical, pro-war nationalist community,” ISW reported. “Russia’s failure to meet Putin’s stated goals jeopardizes the Kremlin’s efforts to regain control of the domestic political narrative and set the stage for the second year of the war.”

The war began on February 24 this year, after Russia mobilized for more than a month on the Ukrainian border and held military exercises with Belarus shortly before invading Ukraine.

The war will begin its 302nd day on Thursday, and Russia is likely to mark its 100,000th day that day. Soldiers are losing, according to the loss reports of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. Russia has not publicly disclosed its losses in the war, including the deaths of its personnel.

Overall, Russia has averaged about 320 deaths a day since the war began, but that number has generally topped 500 a day in recent months, according to Ukraine.

It has been almost a year since Russia began deploying troops along Ukraine’s northern and western borders in late January, while also conducting military operations with neighboring Belarus. Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24 this year and there were heavy casualties on both sides.

Russia has flirted with the idea of ​​using nuclear capabilities in war, while its ally Belarus said last week it is conducting exercises with Russia as if together they were a “single army”.

“Russian nuclear rhetoric is most likely an attempt to placate domestic audiences and intimidate Western audiences, and not indicative of preparation for the use of nuclear weapons,” ISW stated in its report.

Putin and Shoigu tried to assure the consortium in Moscow that Russia had learned from mistakes made in aggressive wars.

“However, Russia is unlikely to efficiently address the fundamental flaws in its military structure – certainly not in the short term – and that failure is likely to reignite criticism,” ISW said. “Putin will have to continue to shift the blame from himself for not delivering on such promises to the Russian Defense Ministry without destroying the credibility of the Defense Ministry and the uniformed military in the eyes of the Russian people.”

https://www.newsweek.com/putin-appears-scrambling-satisfy-critics-before-new-year-1768914 Putin seems to be trying to please critics ahead of the New Year

Rick Schindler

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