Russian president after 4 weeks of invasion is also tightening his grip over Russian society.
A crackdown on independent media and foreign news providers has cemented the dominance of the ultra-loyal Russian state media.
Thousands of anti-war demonstrators have been arrested, while a new law threatens up to 15 years in jail for spreading “fake news” about the army.
There are signs of cracks in the ruling elite, with some oligarchs, MPs, and even private oil group Lukoil calling openly for a ceasefire or an end to the fighting.
A Russian editor held up a sign saying “No War” during a prime-time news broadcast on state TV this week.
“His personal security is very good and it will be very good until the moment it isn’t,” said Eliot A Cohen from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think-tank. Also he added “That’s happened numerous times in Soviet and Russian history.”
They appear to have logistical and morale problems, with diesel and even engine lubricants in short supply, the official said. “But you need to keep it in perspective. All of that does not change the superiority of the Russian military,” he said.
Also Moscow is openly recruiting mercenaries from Syria to supplement its forces, while also using the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian private security company. But even if they captured strategic cities such as Kyiv or the southern port of Odesa, Putin would then face the challenge of occupying them.
Russia has a border with three former Soviet states that are now members of the US-led NATO military alliance, which considers an attack on one member to be an attack against all.
Putin’s nostalgia for the Soviet Union and his pledge to protect Russian minorities – who are found in the Baltic States – has left an open question about his territorial ambitions.
Few expect Putin to openly attack a NATO member, which would run the risk of a nuclear attack, but analysts have warned about provocations that stop short of sparking a war.
Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces onto high alert and Foreign Minister Lavrov has also warned that “World War III can only be a nuclear war”.
Western analysts say such warnings should be taken as posturing to deter the US and Europe from considering ideas such as a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine.
China says it stands for “maintaining peace and opposing war” and that time will prove that its positions on the Ukraine war “are on the right side of history”.
The United Nations maintains at least 847 civilians killed in Ukraine, 6.5 million internally displaced.
Poland presses for a total trade ban between the European Union and Russia.
Russia claims it used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time in Ukraine.
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