The politics of Shasta County, revisited.
1. As the war in Ukraine approaches its 100th day, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that Russian forces now control one-fifth of the country, a blunt acknowledgment of the slow but substantial gains that Moscow has made in recent weeks. Though battered, depleted and repulsed from their initial drive to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Russian troops have used their superior artillery power to grind closer to their goal of taking over the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, known collectively as the Donbas, where Kremlin-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops since 2014. Mr. Zelensky said Russia had expanded its control of Ukrainian territory from an area roughly the size of the Netherlands before the invasion began to an area now greater than the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg combined. (Source: nytimes.com)
2. Russian President Vladimir Putin is digging in for a long war of attrition over Ukraine and will be relentless in trying to use economic weapons, such as a blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, to whittle away Western support for Kyiv, according to members of Russia’s economic elite. The Kremlin has seized on recent signs of hesitancy by some European governments as an indication the West could lose focus in seeking to counter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially as global energy costs surge following the imposition of sanctions on Moscow. Putin “believes the West will become exhausted,” said one well-connected Russian billionaire, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Putin had not expected the West’s initially strong and united response, “but now he is trying to reshape the situation and he believes that in the longer term he will win,” the billionaire said. Western leaders are vulnerable to election cycles, and “he believes public opinion can flip in one day.” (Source: washingtonpost.com)
3. The mobile phone of Lieutenant Yuri Shalaev shines a cold light on Russia’s military culture and the alleged human rights abuses it has spawned in Ukraine. Shalaev was deployed as a motorized rifle platoon officer in late February and was captured by Ukrainian soldiers in April. The videos and text messages on his phone were later turned into a 24-minute documentary by Ukrainian journalists. Heavy editing may make the film a biased source, but the fears shared with Shalaev by his colleagues, and their complaints about shoddy equipment and President Vladimir Putin’s “special operation,” reveal a deep decay in Russia’s armed forces that may continue to hinder its offensive in Ukraine, western defense officials and analysts said. “There is an illustrative moment when Shalaev films a destroyed column of Russian vehicles and his reaction is not, let’s stop and help. It was drive on. There was no camaraderie. It was every man for himself,” said Dara Massicot, a Russia military expert at the Rand Corporation, a US think-tank. “That is not the culture that an army needs to win a war.” Read the rest. The documentary is chilling. (Source: ft.com, meduza.io/en)
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