Bad news for Russia is piling up, by Jesús A. Núñez Villaverde

As days go by Bad news for Russia is piling up. Without this meaning that Moscow has already lost the war, it is a fact that, on the one hand, its advances on the battlefield they are minimalwhile, on the other, military and political setbacks are increasingly visible.

In the military field there is ehe undeniable setback that the Russian units deployed around Kharkiv are suffering, the second city of the country. The problem is not only that they have not managed to conquer it at any time, after weeks of siege and artillery attacks, but that they have had to lift the siege and run back to avoid being pocketed by the Ukrainian counterattack. In fact, it has been confirmed that they have finally crossed the border between the two countries, escaping their possible annihilation. It is true that Kharkiv not part of Donbas– the main objective of the Russian offensive at present – and that, therefore, its conquest could be understood as a symbolic act and a possible future bargaining chip in exchange for some other territory that could really interest Moscow; but that does not mean that it cannot be considered a defeat that has effects both on the morale of the invading troops and on their international image.

The same can be said of disaster harvested in the attempt to cross the Donetsk river, establishing a bridgehead on its western shore, through an operation of armored units supported by pontooners to cross at various points. Although they initially set foot on that shore, the fact is that the images released two days later show a widespread destruction of bridges and vehicles of all kinds, with no Russian presence left there now. One more indication of the enormous difficulties that Russia faces in carrying out the initially planned operation of encircling the Donbas with two simultaneous attacks, from the north and the south that, ideally, should converge in Dnipro, on the banks of the Dnieper. In other words, the conquest of Donbas today does not seem within the reach of Russian troops.

In the political arena, the signs are equally negative. Take as an example the failed attempt to hold referendum in Kherson Oblast. Occupied by Russia practically from the beginning of the invasion, the initial plan seemed to consist of calling a referendum to proclaim a new independent people’s republic, in the style of what Moscow had already organized in Donetsk and Lugansk. Finally, everything indicates that, given the extreme weakness of the local puppets that Moscow has been able to impose on its capital and the general animosity of its population, the final decision points to the publication of a decree by those provisional authorities of annexation to Russiathus adding to what happened in his day in Crimea.

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Finally, the issuance of a joint statement by the president and the prime minister of Finlandon possible entry into NATO, with the imminent addition of Sweden, represents a historic turn in European security and a clear example of the very negative perception that Russia has in its immediate neighbourhood. With her military adventurism, she has not only managed to break the traditional non-alignment of Helsinki and Stockholm, but also strengthen a NATO that seemed absorbed in its own fractures.

Nothing is final, yet; But the tables seem to be turning, and not precisely in favor of Russia, and even less so, Putin.

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