Moscow is “playing with fire” and risks a catastrophe
The stunning footage of scenes of liberation in Ukraine was received with rapture in Washington. But it can make war even more dangerous.
The successes achieved by Ukrainian forces in recent days are a victory for the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But they also raise the question of how Putin might respond. Inconveniences on the battlefield and signs of political pressure are reminiscent of fears that the Russian president may resort to chemical weapons, writes CNN.
“I think the Russian regime is in trouble and it needs to get over it,” retired Army Brigadier General Peter Zwack told the media Monday night. “They’re cornered domestically, not internationally, which makes it all very dangerous,” he said.
Despite the suppression of independent media, Russia’s losses have also penetrated Moscow. Some television commentators and bloggers criticized the conduct of the war. Deputies from 18 Russian regions called for the president’s resignation. And the Kremlin admitted that Putin was aware of what was coming, although he insisted that the “special operation” in Ukraine would succeed.
The surprising development of events in Ukraine will provide an opportunity for the West to increase pressure on the Russian leader. The US says it remains committed to providing Ukraine with everything it needs to continue the fight against Russia.
“The war is now entering a new phase where the ability to move forces under fire and exploit weak points in Russian lines is of the utmost importance,” said Raphael Los, coordinator of pan-European data projects at the European Foreign Policy Council. “Western leaders could help Ukraine build on its successes and liberate more land with the help of battle tanks and armored vehicles,” Los added.
Beyond the tactical considerations, Ukraine’s passage through territory that was previously Russian property raises the question of how Putin might react to the reversal.
It is quite possible that the Russian president will take the defeats as an incentive to launch destructive attacks on the liberated areas. Another area of potential impact is the Russian-held nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye, which has prompted international nuclear officials to warn that Moscow is “playing with fire” and risks disaster.
Military analysts said the breakthrough by Ukrainian troops over the weekend was the most significant in the war since Russia abandoned its bid to capture the capital Kyiv in the first weeks of the invasion.
Drawing on recent Ukrainian victories, Zelensky almost mocked Putin in a Telegram post addressed to Russia on Sunday, asking: “Do you still think we are ‘one people’? Do you still think you can intimidate us?” , to break us, to make us make concessions?”
The difficulty for the West has always been trying to gauge where Putin’s “borders” are. So far they have not been crossed. But no one knows if that won’t change.