In Ukraine and in the Russian interior, it does not seem that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is on a date with any respite soon, while the Ukrainians are achieving victories at the expense of his forces in Kharkiv and other cities, the head of the Kremlin is facing an unprecedented call to resign from his position presented by a large number of Russian local officials .
Putin appears to be at his weakest internally since taking power, as nearly 50 lawmakers signed a petition calling for Putin’s resignation, 29 more than Monday’s move, according to a source who spoke to CNN.
“We now have 47 verified signatures. Their geography has expanded significantly,” Ksenia Thurstrom, deputy mayor of the Semenovsky district of Saint Petersburg, told the network.
Last week, deputies from the Semenovsky municipality in Saint Petersburg called on the State Duma of the Russian Federation to bring charges of treason against Putin in order to remove him from office over the war in Ukraine.
Now these MPs are facing accusations of “discrediting” the Russian military, according to a tweet by one of them, Nikita Yuverev.
“My colleagues and I wanted to support the Semenovsky deputies, who have recently been called to the police and will soon stand trial,” Thurstrom said.
“We, municipal deputies of Russia, believe that the actions of its President Vladimir Putin are detrimental to the future of Russia and its citizens. We demand that Vladimir Putin resign as President of the Russian Federation,” the new petition reads.
“We decided to keep our request so short that there would be little reason to find fault with the authorities and for as many municipal representatives as possible to sign the petition,” Thurstrom said.
The petition comes on the heels of Russia’s first regional and municipal elections since the start of the war, in which pro-Kremlin candidates scored a landslide success.
The author of the first call, Dmitry Balyoga, posted on Twitter a statement saying that Putin was responsible for “the decimation of young, able-bodied Russians who would serve the workforce better than the army, the economic downturn and brain drain in Russia, NATO’s eastward expansion, including the addition of Finland and Sweden.” and the adverse effect of a special military operation” in Ukraine.
Palyoga and fellow lawmaker Nikita Yuverev later posted on Twitter a summons issued to them by the St Petersburg police for “discrediting the ruling establishment”.
Palyoga later reported that police released two of the four MPs who had been summoned and they are all expected to face fines.
The Russian army is facing obstacles and problems in Ukraine, after the continuous offensive since the beginning of this September, which Kyiv says has returned about 6,000 km of territory.
While the Russian forces were fleeing from the Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region, on Saturday, Putin was “deaf” in front of what was happening, according to the newspaper, which stated that he had opened a giant “wheel of air” in Moscow, and that he boasted, saying: “There is nothing like this in Europe”.
Hours later, the giant pinwheel malfunctioned, according to the newspaper, and chaos reigned among people who demanded their ticket money back, according to the Washington Post.
While work is being done to repair the wheel, the newspaper says that “repairing what broke in Putin’s war strategy, and thus his presidency and reputation, will be much more difficult.”
The counterattack in northeastern Ukraine was underway even as Putin insisted, at a conference in the Far East a few days earlier, that Russia “has lost nothing and will not lose anything” in the war, a remark that seemed “contradictory” with Russia’s repeated setbacks and casualties. Shockingly large, ignorant of what was happening on the battlefield, according to the newspaper.
Putin’s initial goal of capturing Kyiv and expelling the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has failed.
Now, the Washington Post says, Western intelligence and military analysts rule out that Russia will achieve its supposed reserve goal of invading Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
Assuming that Putin’s goal involves the ability to somehow declare victory, Russia’s chaotic withdrawal from Kharkiv, which Moscow has described as a “regrouping”, now leaves Putin with “shrinking” options.
Putin could announce a politically risky, mandatory national military mobilization, send poorly trained and increasingly frustrated soldiers into battle to pulverize, or carry out brutal artillery attacks on towns and cities to terrorize the Ukrainian population.
She suggested that Putin would escalate in an extreme way, as some of Putin’s fiercest critics fear, such as resorting to chemical or even nuclear weapons.
So far, Putin has done everything he can to avoid mobilization, which risks sparking broader popular opposition to the war, even though many Russian military experts believe there is no other way to defeat Ukraine militarily.
Although deployment of a weapon of mass destruction cannot be ruled out, many experts downplay fears that Putin would do so, because it would destroy his waning international support with important partners such as China and India, and because it would undermine his efforts to convey a sense of normalcy to Russians, according to analysts. The newspaper spoke to them.
The two sides seem unwilling to discuss peace. On Monday, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said the war would not end without Kiev’s “total surrender”.
At the same time, Zelensky is speaking with increasing boldness about the restoration not only of the entire eastern Donbass region, but also of Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
After Russia acknowledged the withdrawal on Saturday, his ally, the Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, indicated that Putin might not be aware of the mistakes made and would have to contact the president himself to discuss the situation.
“I have to talk about the truth of things” .. Putin’s ally in rare criticism of Russia
The Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, directed rare criticism of the Russian army after the losses it suffered in the recent sudden attack by Ukrainian forces.
On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the “reassembly” took place without a single loss to Russia, and with the deaths of about 4,000 Ukrainians, assertions that seemed illogical.
Analysts said most ordinary Russians who no longer paid much attention to the war were likely not aware of the significant decline. But if Russia faces further setbacks, anger against pro-war hardliners could intensify, and public awareness will rise, and with it the pressure on Putin.
However, Putin appears stubbornly sticking to the same strategy, relying on his conviction that Western support for Ukraine will collapse, according to the newspaper.
More evidence of Russia’s brutality
At a time when Ukrainian forces were secretly preparing a counterattack to expel occupying Russian soldiers from the Kharkiv region, Moscow was so certain of its territorial control that it began imposing Russian curricula in some schools, according to another report from The Washington Post.
As that land and those schools returned to Ukraine’s military after a rapid advance this month, Ukraine said it had arrested Russian teachers left behind by retreating Russian soldiers.
They face up to 12 years in prison for violating the laws and customs of war, according to Deputy Prime Minister Irina Verishchuk.
And in Russian detention centers, inside the dark, cramped rooms of the police station in the newly liberated city of Balaklya in northeastern Ukraine, prisoners who had been held by the Russian occupation forces for weeks left behind clues about their treatment.
Scratches on the walls showed the number of days they were imprisoned, zip ties scattered on the floor, and chairs lined up against the basement wall showed where they might have been interrogated or worse.
Investigators are already combing through piles of evidence abandoned by those forces in their hasty departure, questioning witnesses and victims as they begin to reconstruct incidents to build potential war crimes cases against the invaders. They are marking locations in the police station they suspect of torture sessions. They also collect fingerprints from empty liquor bottles there.
On Tuesday, the first day reporters were allowed access to Palaklia, the bodies of two men were exhumed from a makeshift grave in the city. Investigators said Russian forces shot and killed the two last week.
Moscow acknowledged the detention of the teachers, but said they were Ukrainian collaborators, not Russian citizens.
Across the Kharkiv region, civilians who survived the attack are now adjusting to their new reality, saying that fighting escalated last week but that Russian forces quickly realized they had no chance. They told the “Washington Post” that the sudden silence and lack of bombing is almost bizarre.
As Kyiv reasserted its authority over those liberated towns and villages, the Kremlin’s plans for annexation became increasingly clear, from shaping what young Ukrainians would learn, especially about their country’s history, to preparing referendums.
On the other hand, Russia postponed its plans to organize referendums as a prelude to annexing the regions.
And the newspaper quotes citizens in the area as saying that when the Russians realized last week how fast the Ukrainian forces were advancing through the area, the soldiers started running so fast that “their pants were flying,” remembers Irina Shmil, 55, who lived during the occupation in Verbivka. for several months.
She said Russian forces held her and her husband at gunpoint last week to demand the keys to their minibus so they could escape.
British intelligence said on Monday that Russia’s 1st Guards Tank Army, one of the country’s most ancient units, was part of the forces that withdrew from the Kharkiv region after suffering “heavy losses” earlier in the war.
“The Russian conventional force designed to counter NATO is very weak,” the intelligence agency said on Twitter. It will likely take years for Russia to rebuild this capability.”
Ukrainian forces are looking to maximize gains from a quick offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region, making a diplomatic push to obtain more weapons and deepen security ties with Western allies needed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A top aide to Zelensky and former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Tuesday that they were drafting a proposal to strengthen relations between Kyiv and its Western allies with the aim of ensuring the flow of arms, intelligence, financial aid and training into the country.
They stated that the document would not include a commitment similar to NATO’s Article 5, which requires allies to intervene militarily if a member comes under attack. Unsteady, according to the newspaper.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the Russian Security Council, said that if the West continued to send weapons to Ukraine, “sooner or later, the military campaign will move to another level.”
The diplomacy shows how Kyiv is trying to capitalize on its recent battlefield gains to deepen ties with its Western backers, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Ukraine has come under pressure to show tangible signs of progress before temperatures dip, when dwindling Russian natural gas supplies will test Europe’s economy and political unity.
Since beginning its offensive earlier this month, Ukraine has said it has recaptured about 9,000 square kilometers of territory from Moscow’s forces in the Kharkiv region, giving Russia its biggest setback since its invasion in February. This is more than 1/10 of all the territories Russia has gained and held since the invasion.
Amid the latest developments, US President Joe Biden said, on Tuesday, that Ukraine is making great progress while pushing Russian forces to retreat, but it is not possible to know whether the war is going through a turning point.
Asked whether Ukraine had reached a turning point in the fighting, he said: “The question is unanswered. It is difficult to answer. It is clear that the Ukrainians have made great progress. But I think it (the war) will be long.”
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