“They want blood, not talks”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow’s military “tasks” in Ukraine now went beyond the eastern Donbas region, in the clearest acknowledgment yet that it has expanded its war goals.
In an interview with state media nearly five months after Russia’s invasion, the foreign minister also said peace talks made no sense at the moment because Western governments were leaning on Ukraine to fight rather than negotiate.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba retorted that Russia wanted “blood, not talks”. “By confessing dreams to grab more Ukrainian land, (the) Russian foreign minister proves that Russia rejects diplomacy and focuses on war and terror. Russians want blood, not talks,” he said.
Hunger and cold blackmail
In his Twitter thread, Russian politician and public figure Leonid Volkov explains what, in his opinion, is Putin’s strategy right now, and the last gamble he is making to break Ukraine’s resistance. “So how is Putin planning to achieve the truce he so desperately needs? We saw it already in June: blackmail.”
“Putin’s message in June was simple: “Dear Scholz, Macron, Draghi, it's either you force Zelenskyy to accept peace or I starve North Africa, you get millions of new refugees in Europe, and your governments get taken over by right-wing radicals (which I’ll finance myself). It was convincing, but it didn’t help.
Winter is coming. This makes it possible to play the gas card with maximum efficiency in the coming months. This is what Putin will do — he will try to scare the Europeans with the prospect of freezing to death in their homes this winter.
His military gamble has failed. Putin is rapidly losing support inside Russia. He also realizes that he has only 2-3 months to secure a ceasefire on favorable terms. These will probably be the most difficult 2-3 months, but then Putin will lose. He has already lost, of course, but it is now necessary to crush him, not to let him crawl away. To withstand his final blow”, Volkov said.
Nuclear blackmail against hunger and cold blackmail
Russian President Vladimir Putin may use nuclear threats to deter a Ukrainian counteroffensive against the occupied Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions, according to a U.S.-based think tank.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its July 19 war assessment that should the Kremlin annex the regions that are currently occupied by Russian forces, Putin may state, directly or obliquely, that Russian doctrine permitting the use of nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory applies to newly annexed territories.
“Such actions would threaten Ukraine and its partners with nuclear attack if Ukrainian counteroffensives to liberate Russian-occupied territory continue,” the ISW said in its campaign assessment.
The ISW said Putin may believe that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would restore Russian deterrence after his “disastrous invasion shattered Russia’s conventional deterrent capabilities,” adding that previous Russian hints at Moscow’s willingness to use nuclear weapons have “proven hollow.”
Russia is laying the groundwork for the annexation of more Ukrainian territory and is installing illegitimate proxy leaders in areas of the country under its control, said John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC). According to him, the Russians plan to organize “sham referenda” in the areas it has seized, possibly as early as September, and are preparing to establish the ruble as the default currency and force residents to apply for citizenship.
Patient is ready to meet with Bonaparte
American psychiatrist and University of California professor James Fallon, who specializes in psychopathic disorders, has little doubt that Putin is a typical psychopath – and he is about to lose self-control.
The professor is confident that Putin is extremely dangerous at this stage and is well capable of using nuclear weapons. His advice to the West, therefore, is to avoid showing weakness, but refrain from big moves at the same time..
Thinking about peace, but ready for war
Ukraine must win its war with Russia before winter to prevent its neighbor from bedding in long term, presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said Tuesday, July 19.
“It is very important for us not to enter into the winter. After winter, when the Russians will have more time to get a footing, it will certainly be more difficult. It is very important for us not to give them this possibility,” stated Yermak. He repeated Kyiv’s view that Ukraine’s Western allies should supply it with more arms, and said he was counting on multibillion-dollar pledges of US aid in the form of weaponry and economic support.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin believes that the hostilities in Ukraine have entered a decisive stage. He stressed that the West will look for new ways to provide military assistance to Ukraine in the long term. The head of the Pentagon called the collective support by the West of Ukraine of vital and urgent importance.
Ukrainians don’t know about “keep silent and endure!”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he does not support Brazil’s position of neutrality on Russia's war against Ukraine. “I do not believe that on a war happening in the world one can be neutral. ...You cannot be somewhere in the middle. You can't say I'm ready to be a mediator. A mediator in what? A mediator in a war between whom and whom? This is Russia's war against the people of Ukraine. They are on our territory,” Zelensky noted.
Bolsonaro has already stated on more than one occasion that he maintains this position, mainly in view of the high dependence on fertilizers imported from Russia.
Present on the list, but not yet punished
The United States on Tuesday placed Russia on lists of countries engaged in a “policy or pattern” of human trafficking and forced labor or whose security forces or government-backed armed groups recruit or use child soldiers.
The list was published in the State Department’s annual report, Reuters reports.
For the first time in the report, as mandated by Congress in 2019, a section on ‘State-sponsored human trafficking’ appeared. Russia features frequently in the report because of its invasion of Ukraine and what the document calls a ‘risk factor’ because millions of Ukrainian refugees who have left their country are at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking.