Even as materiel and personnel losses are high, an end to the conflict is not in sight. Can a prolonged stalemate only be resolved by a negotiated settlement, or is it possible that Ukraine can win, despite the continued imposition of Russian rule over seized Ukrainian territory, including changing the local currency.
New Russian offensive moves are coming in the south especially in Kherson and even toward Odessa. Another Russian general was reported killed near Izium. Submarine-based cruise missile launches have been reported.
- Russian occupying forces are setting conditions to allow Russia to permanently govern occupied areas in southern Ukraine, not just in Donbas.
- Ukrainian forces likely conducted a rocket artillery strike on a Russian command post in Izyum on April 30 that struck after Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov had left but killed other senior Russian officers.
- Russian forces continue to make incremental advances moving southwestward in the direction of Lyman but are largely stalled against Ukrainian positions on the pre-February 24 frontline.
Russian forces continued re-grouping and reconnaissance on the Southern Axis and did not make any confirmed advances.
- Fighting continues in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where local officials reported that shelling killed three, just hours after suggesting that Russian airstrikes and artillery attacks may be slowing after a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
- Moscow’s recent actions in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson — where civilians are facing an Internet blackout and the implementation of a plan to use Russian currency — are an attempt to “exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term,” according to a British intelligence update.
- Europe is scrambling to respond to the energy crisis prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after Putin cut off natural gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for refusing to pay in rubles.
Vladimir Putin’s willingness to threaten to use nuclear weapons is in one respect a good sign: it means Russia is probably losing in Ukraine. It is also a potentially catastrophic one. If Putin’s aim is to scare the west, he is failing. Nato keeps stepping up its supplies to Ukraine. The question is what he would do if he thought Russian defeat was inescapable. Putin keeps implying he knows exactly what steps he would take. Is he bluffing? It is plausible even he does not know the answer.
Either way, the genie is out of the bottle. Putin has broken a post-Cuba taboo on threatening to go nuclear. That, in itself, puts us in new territory. Without most people being aware of it, the world is entering its most dangerous period since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The majority under the age of 50 have grown up thinking the nuclear spectre is a relic of the last century. In the past few weeks, the prospect of a nuclear exchange has become the most live threat to this century’s peace.
In terms of public awareness, the debate about Putin’s language is a good example of “those who don’t know talk, and those who know don’t talk”. It is easy to think of Putin as a poker addict trying to bluster his way out of a bad bet. Eventually he must fold. US civilian and military officials suffer from no such complacency. Many have taken part in war game exercises where the use of low-yielding tactical nuclear weapons as often as not escalates to strategic nuclear exchange — doomsday, in plain English.
If there were a 5 per cent chance of Putin detonating a battlefield nuclear weapon, the world would be at more risk than at any point in most people’s lifetimes. In the past few days, Moscow’s signaling has arguably raised the chances to one in 10. Putin described last week’s test of the Sarmat hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile as giving the west “food for thought”, which would not sound out of place from Blofeld, the 20th-century Bond villain. On Wednesday, Putin said: “We have all the instruments for this [responding to an existential threat to Russia] — ones nobody else can boast of. And we will use them, if we have to.”
- Main effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate supporting efforts);
- Supporting effort 1—Kharkiv and Izyum;
- Supporting effort 2—Southern axis;
- Supporting effort 3—Sumy and northeastern Ukraine.
The UK asserts Russian combat deaths in Ukraine at about 15,000
US believes Russia is increasingly relying on conscripts and suffering troop morale problems
Russian is preparing significant new hospital and morgue capacity as fighting in the Donbas increases in intensity
Russia is recruiting foreign fighters, but their impact on the battlefield is not yet known
Ukraine suggests Russia is having more difficulty than expected in recruiting foreign fighters
Historical context on the rate of loss of Russian officers
There has been speculation that a wider mobilization will be required if Russia is to continue its offensives beyond the near term
• • •
Lifting sanctions imposed on Russia is part of peace negotiations between Moscow and Ukraine, which are “not going well” but continue via videoconferencing on a daily basis, Lavrov said.
Kyiv warned on Friday that talks on ending Russia’s invasion, now in its third month, were in danger of collapse. In comments to China’s Xinhua news agency, Lavrov said:
At present, the Russian and Ukrainian delegations are actually discussing a draft of a possible treaty via videoconferencing on a daily basis.
This document should fix such elements of the post-conflict state of affairs as permanent neutrality, non-nuclear, non-bloc and demilitarised status of Ukraine, as well as guarantees of its security.
The agenda of the talks also includes issues of denazification, recognition of new geopolitical realities, the lifting of sanctions, the status of the Russian language, and others.
The settlement of the situation in Ukraine will make it possible to make a significant contribution to the de-escalation of military-political tension in Europe, and in the world as a whole.
As one of the possible options, the creation of an institution of guarantor states is envisaged, among which, first of all, are the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China.”
“We are in favour of continuing the negotiations, although they are not going well,” Lavrov added.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has insisted that western sanctions on Russia needed to be strengthened and could not be part of negotiations.
Weapons companies and military contractors stand to book new orders and enjoy heightened demand for new weapons systems, as the United States and NATO countries scale up spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Coincidentally or not, one of the most high-profile advocates for dramatically escalating NATO’s involvement in the war — literally calling for putting troops and arms inside Ukraine — quietly moonlights as a consultant for weapons firms and defense contractors, interests that presumably stand to benefit from a direct conflict between NATO and Russia.
More importantly, that conflict of interest hasn’t been disclosed in any of his media appearances or interviews.
In other words, since retiring from the Air Force, Breedlove associated himself with firms that either directly profit from military contracts, like DynCorp, or market themselves as effective consultants for defense contractors seeking to manage their relationships with the U.S. government.
Breedlove may genuinely believe that a direct military confrontation with Russia, and the heightened risk of nuclear war, is necessary, but his downplaying the risks of boots on the ground dovetails nicely with his consulting work for industry interests that stand to benefit from increased U.S. and European defense spending.
Economic sanctions against Russia have cratered the ruble and caused product shortages. Massive job losses could be next, explains Wharton finance professor Nikolai Roussanov.”