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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 36: Russia prepares occupation authorities, Putin’s rating grows

Russo-Ukrainian war, day 36: Russia prepares occupation authorities, Putin’s rating grows
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun
Russians continue to hold positions to North and East of Kyiv as heavy battles continue for Mariupol. Meanwhile, Russia conducts preparations for creating occupation administrations and for a “referendum” for a “Kherson People’s Republic.” Ukraine looks into ways to alleviate the food crisis ensuing from the war while Putin’s approval rating jumps to 83% in Russia.

Morning report day 36 – March 31

The report is based on media reports, expert analyses, and official information posted online.


According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 31.03.2022, supplemented by its [midnight assessment]:

Russo-Ukrainian war

“The Defence Forces Group of Ukraine continues to conduct a defence operation in the Eastern, Southeastern and Northeastern directions. In all directions, the Russian forces are successfully restrained by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in some – our troops are carrying out successful counterattacks.

[The missile threat against the defence-industrial complex and logistics infrastructure of our State remains. In the Black Sea are ships equipped with cruise missiles “Caliber”. The replenishment of the Caliber cruise missile system on the Admiral Makarov frigate has been completed at the Sevastopol naval base.]

[Additional units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation are being relocated to Ukraine to take part in the war.][To control the temporarily occupied territories of Southern Ukraine, the enemy is trying to create military-civilian administrations and has begun preparations for a referendum on a quasi-state entity in the Kherson region (the so-called “Kherson People’s Republic”).]

[In the Volyn direction. In the areas of the settlements of Pinsk, Luninets of the Republic of Belarus, units of the airborne troops of the armed forces of the Russian Federation were recorded, which were probably withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine.]

  • On the territory of the Republic of Belarus, the movement of military equipment of the armed forces of the Russian Federation was recorded, probably for the purpose of regrouping units, as well as creating a reserve to replenish losses in manpower, weapons and equipment of groups operating in Ukraine.

[The planned regrouping of units of the Eastern Military District continues in the Polissya direction. These units are expected to move to other areas.]

  • In the territories of the Kyiv Oblast left by the enemy, there are many cases of mining of the territory and buildings of local residents.

[The enemy did not take active action in the Siversky direction,

  • The occupiers have focused on sabotage and reconnaissance activities and continue to take measures to establish logistics. In the near future, it is expected that the fire on Ukrainian units will intensify in order to ensure the movement of their troops, with the further task of blocking the city of Chernihiv.]

[In the Slobozhansky direction, the enemy continues to block Kharkiv, conducting artillery shelling of the city.

  • Carries out the movement of artillery units in the area of the city of Izium, creates strike groups, in particular from the previously withdrawn troops.]

[In the Donetsk direction, the main efforts of the occupiers continued to focus on taking control of the settlements of Popasna, Rubizhne, as well as the capture of the city of Mariupol.]

  • [The enemy tried to carry out assault operations in the areas of Popasna, Rubizhne, Novobahmutivka, Marinka, and Zolota Niva. He was not successful.]
  • [In Mariupol, the occupiers continue to carry out assault operations.
  • Attempts are expected to launch an offensive in the directions of Kramatorsk and Pokrovsk, as well as to concentrate efforts in the direction of Svitlodarsk.]
  • The Joint Forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast repulsed 5 enemy attacks in a day. Our soldiers destroyed 10 tanks, 18 armoured and 13 units of vehicles, 15 artillery systems. The enemy suffered casualties.

[In the Tavriya direction, units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces restored control over the settlements of Orlove, Zagradivka, and Kochubeyevka [about 25 km south of Kryvyj Rih]].

  • [In order to restore the previously lost position, the enemy is trying to conduct offensive operations in the direction of Alexandrovka.]

[In the Pivdennyi Buh directions, the enemy is taking measures to restore combat capability and replenish supplies.]

The Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has hit 7 air targets in the previous day – 4 planes, UAVs and 2 cruise missiles. Air Force aircraft continue to launch missile and bomb strikes on places of accumulation of equipment and the enemy manpower.

The leadership of the Russian Federation is considering the formation of occupation authorities in the temporarily occupied territories.

According to the available information, employees of law enforcement agencies, prosecutor’s offices and courts are being selected on the territory of the Russian Federation, which will be sent to the territory of Ukraine in the future.

To implement the scenario of creating another pseudo-republic in the Kherson Oblast, the work of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, the 652nd Group of Information and Psychological Operations and officers of the 12th Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian federation is noted. The main activity of these units is the so-called “explanatory work” with local authorities and the public. Information support is provided by showing videos with fictitious persons.“

During the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian General Staff has reported on the Russian manning and logistic challenges:

  • The moral and psychological condition of the Russian troops and the level of motivation of the personnel of the occupying forces to take part in hostilities remains low and tends to deteriorate. According to the available information, two platoon commanders were removed from their positions in the units of the 60th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 5th all-military army of the Eastern Military District due to non-fulfilment of the order to conduct hostilities. The Deputy Commander of the Brigade for Military and Political Work is scheduled to arrive in the area of combat missions of the BTGr unit in Yasynivka, Donetsk region.
  • Numerous cases of refusal to continue service and reluctance to sign contracts with conscripts have been reported in units of the Baltic Fleet, in particular the 79th Detached Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 11th Army Corps.
  • [According to available information, the command of the armed forces of the Russian Federation with the beginning of the armed aggression against Ukraine lost several military leaders from among senior officers, namely: Commander of the 1st Panzer Army Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, removed from office; Commander of the 6th General Army Lieutenant General Vladislav Yershov, removed from office and arrested; Chief of Staff – Deputy Commander of the 35th All-Military Army, Major General Sergei Nirkov, was seriously wounded; Chief of Staff – Deputy Commander of the 36th General Army, Major General Andrei Seritsky, was seriously wounded; Deputy Commander of the 41st All-Military Army, Lieutenant General Andriy Sukhovetsky, died; Commander of the 49th General Army Lieutenant General Yakov Ryazantsev, died; Commander of the 58th All-Military Army, Lieutenant General Mykhailo Zusk, was removed from office and arrested.]
  • [According to the available data, the vast majority of conscripts of the Eastern Military District remained in the permanent deployment points of military units and subdivisions, which indicates the exhaustion of opportunities for the formation of additional units.]
  • The Russian forces have significant difficulties with the introduction of combat equipment removed from long-term storage. Thus, according to available information, a significant amount of inoperable equipment was found in the 163rd Tank Regiment of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division. The Russian forces are considering the possibility of transporting faulty equipment to the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk region with the help of tractors, for its further restoration.
  • [Yesterday, in the Russian city of Belgorod, due to neglect of safety rules and violation of the requirements for the transportation of ammunition, its unauthorized detonation took place. This situation is an example of the typical mass use of obsolete dangerous munitions by Russian servicemen, including during the Second World War. Only yesterday, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine warned of the threat of self-detonation of ammunition, a huge number of which Russia has set up in the area of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Russia must withdraw its troops from the Chornobyl zone immediately.]

  • [The Russian forces’ military command continues to send servicemen from military support units, including educational institutions due to the need to recruit units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation involved in the war against Ukraine and suffered significant losses.]
  • [The Russian forces personnel are demoralized and have low motivation to take part in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. Thus, according to available information, the attempts of the Russian military command to mobilize “volunteers” do not have the support of the population. In particular, only 17 so-called “volunteers” were recruited in the Kaliningrad region.]
According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 24 hours):

  • Despite Russian statements indicating an intended reduction of military activity around Chernihiv, significant Russian shelling and missile strikes have continued.
  • Russian forces continue to hold positions to the east and west of Kyiv despite the withdrawal of a limited number of units. Heavy fighting will likely take place in the suburbs of the city in the coming days.
  • Heavy fighting continues in Mariupol, a key objective of Russian forces, however, Ukrainian forces remain in control of the centre of the city.
As of Wednesday 31.03.2022, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

  • personnel – more than 17,500 people (+200),
  • tanks – 614 units (+9),
  • armoured combat vehicles – 1735 units (+13),
  • artillery systems – 311 (+6),
  • multiple rocket launchers – 96 (no change)
  • air defence means – 54 (no change),
  • aircraft – 135 (+4),
  • helicopters – 131 (+2),
  • automotive technology – 1201 (+17),
  • vessels/boats – 7 units (no change),
  • fuel and lubricant tanks – 75 (no change),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 83 (+2)
  • Special equipment – 22 (+1)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (no change)


According to UNHCR 4,019,287 refugees has been registered as of 29 March. The UN says that so far Poland has taken in 2,336,799 refugees, Romania 608,936, the Republic of Moldova 387,151, Hungary 364,804, Russian Federation 350,632, Slovakia 281,172, and Belarus 10,902. After crossing the border to the abovementioned countries, many refugees have been relocated to other countries. The Republic of Lithuania alone has received around 36.000.As of March 29, OHCHR has recorded 3,090 civilian casualties in the country: 1,189 killed (108 children) and 1,901 injured (142 children).Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine reports that as of today, 10,224 children from vulnerable categories have been evacuated due to large-scale hostilities related to the large-scale military invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine. Of these,

  • 6,548 children are orphans, children deprived of parental care and other children who are in 24-hour institutional care facilities under the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Social Policy.
  • Another 3,676 evacuees are children from vulnerable categories who are in family care: foster care, family-type orphanages, foster care, foster care.
  • 4,425 children have been relocated to safe areas within Ukraine.
  • 5,799 children were relocated abroad.

All evacuated children are safe, they are provided with housing, food, medical and educational services.All three agreed humanitarian corridors partially worked on March 30. 1530 civilians in total were able to use the agreed humanitarian corridors from Mariupol, Berdiansk, Melitopol, Enerhodar, Polohy, Orykhiv, Hulaypole and Vasylivka in their private transport only. Russian forces blocked the evacuation buses and humanitarian aid from entering the settlements, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine said.


An initiative is being launched in Ukraine to help prevent a food crisis during the war, Ukrainska Pravda reports.The war on the territory of Ukraine makes it impossible to use all agricultural lands, which could later lead to a food crisis.According to experts, due to hostilities in 2022, Ukraine may lose:

  • about 42% of the annual harvest of cereals and legumes;
  • 53% of buckwheat harvest;
  • 68% of tomato harvest;
  • 36% of potato harvest;
  • 46% of the onion harvest;
  • 38% of carrot harvest;
  • 45% of the cucumber harvest;
  • 32% of cabbage harvest;
  • 35% of the harvest of beets and many other crops.

The Ministry of Agrarian Policy and the Ministry of Community Development calls on Ukrainians to use all plots of land as efficiently as possible. To intensify this process, the agencies want to implement the All-Ukrainian initiative “Gardens of Victory“. Its goal is to effectively use every piece of land where you can grow crops, which will help reduce the risk of an acute food crisis.”

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been occupied by the Russian military units since 4 March 2022. The personnel and their families are under constant psychological pressure due to the presence of hostile military occupiers at the site and the city. Cases of detention of the NPP personnel by Russian invaders for interrogation have been registered.Psychological and physical pressure on the NPP personnel and their families significantly increases the probability of personnel error, which in turn can lead to emergencies and accidents. Two ZNPP units are operating at power, the rest are under repair and in standby mode. No changes in the radiological situation have been registered.

The UN appoints a commission to investigate allegations of war crimes in Ukraine, The New York Times reports. The UN on Wednesday appointed a commission to investigate accusations of war crimes and other abuses committed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to identify the people responsible.

The three-person panel, named by the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, was appointed for an initial period of a year to “establish the facts circumstances and root causes” of any crimes. The announcement followed a resolution passed early this month by the Human Rights Council, creating a commission of inquiry into the war. The council picked Erik Mose, a Norwegian judge and former president of the international criminal tribunal that prosecuted perpetrators of Rwanda’s genocide, to chair the new panel’s investigations.”

Overall registered numbers of crimes: 3411 crimes of aggression and war crimes, and 1954 crimes against national security.Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports that as of a.m. on March 30, 2022, since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 145 children were killed and more than 222 children – injured. It is still impossible to establish the actual numbers due to the ongoing combat operations.Ukrainian sappers confirm that the occupiers are using the latest anti-personnel mines POM-3 “Medallion”, which is produced only by Russia. These mines are banned by the 1997 Ottawa International Convention, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. It was signed by 169 countries, but not Russia.The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine has again released information on Russian servicemen on its websites, this time from the 1327th Centre for the use of Intelligence Units and Special Forces units of the GRU (military unit 25908).The Republic of Belarus continues to deny participation in the war against Ukraine, freely providing territories for the Russian Armed Forces, airfields and transport networks, as well as locations for cruise and ballistic missile launchers. At the same time, under international legal acts, an aggressor can be considered “a country that provides its airspace, its territory for strikes on a third country, according to the General Staff of Ukraine”


Ukraine has submitted to the US Congress a list of necessary military assistance, the European Truth reports. The list includes

  • reconnaissance and strike drones (including the so-called “kamikaze drones”),
  • tactical radars,
  • electronic warfare systems against drones,
  • and combat aircraft, including the Su-25.
  • The list also includes artillery systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-ship missiles and optical surveillance equipment.
  • In addition, Ukraine is asking for assistance in treating wounded troops and repairing equipment, including mobile military medical hospitals.
  • Ukraine is asking for help in repairing armoured vehicles in neighbouring countries, as well as aircraft for transporting weapons.

The Government has developed 9 main directions of how the country will live, work, accumulate resources, defend itself in a full-scale war, according to Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal.

  1. Security. Providing the defence forces with everything necessary. Cash payments, weapons, equipment, food, fuel, development of the military-industrial complex. All resources are primarily directed to the Armed Forces.
  2. Food Security. Strategic food stocks are formed several years ahead in Ukraine, farmers are provided with assistance, a program of free distribution of key social products in frontline cities was launched.
  3. Economy. A New Economic Policy, including measures such as drastic reduction of taxes, complete deregulation for business, abolition of import VAT, and import duties.
  4. Social assistance programs and ePidtrymka, including indexation of pensions, advance payment of pension in regions where hostilities are taking place. Ukraine covers all the social benefits. Under the ePidtrymka program, the Government pays UAH 6,500 to those who lost their jobs. 3.5 million citizens have already received such assistance.
  5. Assistance to IDPs program, including economic support to families that host displaced citizens. IDPs receive monthly UAH 2,000 for adults and UAH 3,000 for children or people with disabilities. Business hiring IDPs receive UAH 6,500 as a partial salary compensation.
  6. Energy. Ukraine has joined the European energy system ENTSO-E. Coal reserves and up 9 billion cubic meters of gas are in storage. Ukraine has reached agreements for the delivery of fuel from European refineries.
  7. Wartime Logistics. The Ukrzaliznytsia JSC transports thousands of tons of cargo and hundreds of thousands of people daily. Separate logistics routes have been opened for motor transport. Ukraine is building new warehouses on the western border and plans to open new checkpoints there shortly.
  8. World Stands with Ukraine
  9. Restoration of Ukraine“.

The Prime Minister expressed hope that the support of the partners will be demonstrated not just in words.The US will provide $500 million in direct budgetary aid to Ukraine, CNBC reports. President Biden told President Zelenskyy that the United States plans to provide his government with $500 million in direct budgetary aid, according to a White House readout of Biden’s secure call with the Ukrainian leader. In the world of international assistance, direct budgetary aid is relatively rare.The sanctions have an effect. A survey of Russian retail investor sentiment, conducted by the Levada Centre, shows a sharp decline in optimism about the future and their own financial situation. Confidence that their personal financial situation will improve has been decreasing throughout the year, but the current drop was especially dramatic: the number of those who expect their finances to improve this year has dropped from 61% in March 2021 to 13% in March 2022.

A noticeable decrease in optimism affected, among other things, the assessment of the economic situation in the country. The share of investors who consider the next year “neither good nor bad” for the country’s economy has significantly dropped, and the share of pessimists has increased: from 33% in October 2021 to 88% in March 2022. When asked to characterize the financial consequences of the current crisis, 70% of the surveyed investors noted that they had suffered financial loss, a third of respondents assessed their loss as significant (33%). One in seven investors noted no losses or profits (14%), the same number spoke of profits (16%). Big investors are more likely to view their losses as significant.”

New developments

1. Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan call for states to guarantee security. A week ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said that Ukraine was negotiating with many countries concerning the subject of security guarantees. In particular with USA, UK, Germany, France and Türkiye.
– Germany as a whole is ready to act as a guarantor of Ukraine’s security, German Chancellor Scholz told President Zelensky, European Truth reports. Whether the role as a security guarantor will also include a military component is unclear.
– The UK is not ready to become a guarantor of Ukraine’s independence, Kyiv Independent reports.

“We have been very clear we are not going to engage Russia in a direct military confrontation. Ukraine is not a NATO member,” U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said.

2. Negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations will resume online on April 1, Ukrainska Pravda reports. During the next week, the delegations will work out a more coordinated draft agreement for the next meeting of the presidents of the two countries. Ukraine insists that the meeting cannot take place in either Russia or Belarus.3. A ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine will not be enough to elicit the lifting of British sanctions, European Truth reports. This was stated by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson.4. The level of support for President Putin among Russians increased by 12% compared to February and is presently 83% according to a poll conducted by the Russian renowned Levada Centre. The conflict between Russia and the West might be escalating. Several countries are considering an emergency plan to ration gas Wednesday in what is seen as a standoff over a Russian demand to pay for fuel with roubles which can lead to disruption or halt of supplies, Reuters reports. The demand for roubles, which has been rejected by Group of Seven nations, is in retaliation for crippling Western sanctions. Russia considers demanding rouble payments also for other commodities including oil, grain, fertilisers, coal, and metals, raising the risk of recession in Europe and the US.


1. On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Wednesday 30 March:

Russia is withdrawing some elements of its forces around Kyiv into Belarus for likely redeployment to other axes of advance and did not conduct any offensive operations around the city in the past 24 hours, but Russian forces will likely continue to hold their forwardmost positions and shell Ukrainian forces and residential areas.Ukrainian forces repelled several Russian attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the past 24 hours and Russian forces likely continued to take territory in Mariupol. Russian forces held their positions and did not conduct offensive operations throughout the rest of the country. forces will likely capture Mariupol in the coming days but likely suffered high casualties taking the city, and Russian force generation efforts and the redeployment of damaged units from the Kyiv axis are increasingly unlikely to enable Russian forces to make rapid gains in the Donbas region.Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces around Kyiv held their forward positions and continued to defend against limited Ukrainian counterattacks. Russian forces are unlikely to give up their secured territory around the city and are continuing to dig in.
  • ISW can confirm Russia is withdrawing some units around Kyiv for likely redeployment to other axes of advance, but cannot confirm any changes in Russian force posture around Chernihiv as of this time.
  • Russian forces did not conduct any offensive operations in north-eastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours.
  • Elements of the 20th Combined Arms Army and 1st Guards Tank Army are redeploying to support Russian operations on Izium, but are unlikely to take the city in the near future.
  • Ukrainian forces repelled continuing Russian assaults in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. Russian forces continued to take territory in Mariupol but are likely suffering high casualties.
Russian claims about troop withdrawal cover for regrouping forces, Ukraine’s and western leaders warn. Ukraine and Western leaders had cautioned that Moscow’s apparent peace gesture at Tuesday’s talks in Istanbul was a cover for reorganizing forces that had failed to take Kyiv, Reuters reports. Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday its forces were regrouping near Kyiv and Chernihiv to focus on the “liberation” of the breakaway eastern Donbas region.Britain’s defence ministry said Moscow’s announcement about focusing on the Donbas was likely “a tacit admission that it is struggling to sustain more than one significant axis of advance”. Pentagon has also cautioned it’s not a retreat. Russia previously did not follow through with similar pledges.Russia is trying to buy more time through negotiations with Ukraine, according to Melinda Haring of the Atlantic Council, CNBC reports.

It is an attempt for the Russians to buy more time so that they can come back in, regroup and come back stronger. Nothing has changed today, that’s the important point,” Haring added. “The bottom line is that Ukraine has to continue to fight, and fight very valiantly, and inflict major costs on Russia until Russia is ready to engage in real negotiations. The West will also need to continue to send defensive material to Ukraine, she added.”

It will take “many more weeks and many more months” until the Russians will be willing to really negotiate, she said.UK intelligence chief says Russian soldiers are low on morale and refusing to carry out orders, CNN reports.Sir Jeremy Fleming, Director of GCHQ, the UK’s Intelligence, Cyber and Security Agency said,

it increasingly looks like Putin has massively misjudged the situation. It’s clear he misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people. Fleming said Putin over-estimated the abilities of the Russian military to secure a quick victory. We’ve seen Russian soldiers — short of weapons and morale — refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft, he said. Even though we believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what’s going on and the extent of these misjudgements must be crystal clear to the regime, he said”.

2. Consequences and what to do?

To those who were in Chechnya, Russia’s war in Ukraine looks ominously familiar”, an article by Carlotta Gall in The New York Times, paints a grim picture of what might be awaiting Ukraine (unless Russia is defeated):

[…] Ukraine is very different from Chechnya, which was a small territory of just one million people in the North Caucasus. Ukraine is a sovereign nation with a population of more than 40 million, an armed force of over 200,000 troops, and a capital city of three million or more inhabitants. But Chechnya’s experience is worth recalling because it was the first time we saw Vladimir V. Putin develop his game plan to reassert Russian dominion wherever he wanted. The methods were brute force and terror: the bombing and besieging of cities, deliberate targeting of civilians, and the abduction and jailing of local leaders and journalists and their replacement by loyal quislings.The war in Chechnya began with a shocking display of Russian incompetence. On New Year’s Eve in 1994, Russian troops were sent blundering into Grozny in what was intended to be a swift overthrow of the Chechen leadership.They were met by highly motivated units of Chechen fighters, armed with antitank rockets, who ambushed their columns, trapping and burning hundreds of Russian soldiers and armour in one night.But the Chechen victory did not last. The Russian army moved to flank Grozny on three sides and unleashed a terrifying onslaught of air and artillery strikes. A modern, European city became a ravaged moonscape. There was much in the experience that echoes in Ukraine today. Even though nearly 30 years have intervened, it is staggering to see Russia employ many of the same tactics — and mistakes — in Ukraine.
Hans Petter Midttun’s assessment: In the article “Biden told the truth about Putin. But regime change is not a policy option” by the Editorial Board of the Washington Post, they stress that:
“It’s not usually a good idea for a president even to imply a foreign policy objective that he or she does not actually have the intention or capability to achieve. And so it was necessary and appropriate that President Biden’s aides quickly told the world that his unscripted remark about Russian President Vladimir Putin in Poland on Saturday — “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” — did not mean that regime change in Moscow is on the US policy agenda. […]It can be a good idea, however, for presidents to speak in a clear moral voice about world affairs. On that score, Mr. Biden’s remark had something going for it: truth. Having previously labelled Mr. Putin a “war criminal” and a “butcher,” the president’s latest ad-lib did not, to be sure, add much to the stark, and all too accurate, portrait he has been painting of Russia’s dictator and the regime he leads. The speech to which Mr. Biden appended it was an eloquent call to arms, rallying a reinvigorated West to resist the aggression and slaughter of innocents that the Putin regime has wrought in Ukraine and to prevent the conflict from spreading. In that context, the “for God’s sake” moment overshadowed the main message. Yet it at least served to connect Mr. Biden’s broader assessment of the Putin regime with the inescapable conclusion: There can be no peace and security as long as it is in power.The United States and its allies have no choice but to build a strategy based not on the long-term reality, which is that they cannot live with a Putin regime, but on the short-term reality that they must, barring a revolution in Moscow that cannot be anticipated. […]A multi-year defence buildup by NATO’s European members is called for and underway. Meanwhile, the best course for the West is to keep doing what it’s doing: sanctioning the Russian economy, while arming and supporting the Ukrainians, generously and swiftly, so as to assure Russia’s battlefield failure. That policy is working: Russia has already been forced to scale back its publicly declared objectives, a tacit admission that it lacks the capability to seize Kyiv or other major cities. The only scenario that would seem to guarantee Mr. Putin’s indefinite hold on power is a clear Russian military victory — and that is getting less likely with each passing day.”
In the article, the Washington Post echoed my recent assessment that

it is in both NATO’s and the EU’s interest to ensure that the war is resolved as quickly as possible. It is equally important to resolve the real cause of the war. Russia.”

In the article, I argued that there can be no “business as normal” until we see something resembling normality in Russia. I suggested that the sanctions should not be lifted before Russia, as one out of several prerequisites, turns President Putin and his inner circle over to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.Regime change is in my opinion, a precondition for peace in Europe.

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