After a day in which Russian forces appeared to pause their movements in order to replenish supplies and make new troop movements, military experts are now warning that the coming hours may see "major offensive operations." The day will also see planned talks between Russian and Ukrainian diplomats, but a ceasefire still seems improbable—if for no other reason than Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin's rage over poor Russian military performance in these first days of war. Nonetheless, finding a mechanism to give the humiliated and likely even more paranoid Putin a way out may be the only remaining way out of a war that threatens to topple the legitimate Ukrainian government—only to result in a long-term Ukrainian insurgency against Russian occupiers that will be backed with as many advanced weapons systems as western nations can push into the defenders' hands.
As Putin makes belligerent but ambiguous new nuclear threats, likely as means of deterring NATO and allied countries from contemplating even more direct actions to assist Ukraine, the Russian-allied government of Belarus announced that a new constitutional referendum will now allow Russia to stage nuclear weapons inside their country. Belarus has been instrumental in Russia's invasion plans, allowing a significant portion of the Russian army to assemble along the Belarus-Ukrainian border. Reports that Belarus military units are themselves participating in the offensive continue to fly, but remain unconfirmed.
As always, a major concern is that a frustrated Putin will turn to indiscriminate civilian shelling or other war crimes in retribution for Ukraine's vigorous and surprisingly successful defense efforts.
At home, however, Putin now faces an almost certain currency collapse as the international community freezes the country out of banking systems and targets individual, wealthy Putin allies with aggressive new sanctions. He also faces military morale that seems positively bleak, substantial public protests within Russia, and a Russian government itself strongly divided.
None of this is likely to improve the Russian strongman's mood, creating further danger of Russian military escalation intended not just to defeat Ukraine, but as attempt to redeem Putin's bungled and seemingly incompetent war tactics to date. Whether Russia can accomplish such a thing in the face of near-universal international opposition and a Russian kleptocracy that likely values its hoarded money over Putin's own leadership remains unclear. Taking Ukraine by force is still possible—but keeping it, as worldwide sanctions strangle what little economy Putin's Russia still has, may not be.
News from Turkey.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “war,” and said his country, a NATO member, would block Russian ships deployed in the attack from entering the Black Sea.
Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey would implement the Montreux Convention, a 1936 pact that allows the country to control its Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which together form a strategic corridor between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The convention, whose signatories include France, Germany, Greece, Japan and Britain, allows Turkey to close those waterways to warships when it is at war or threatened.
Given the rampant mis- and disinformation of the social media component of this war, the NY Times explains how it verifies the accuracy of Ukraine videos.