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Putin digs himself ever deeper into a quagmire



Each day, it would seem, Russian President Vladimir Putin has become ever more adept at creating more victims and new enemies – solidifying, even enlarging, the ranks of those arrayed against him, and strengthening the resolve of those he would seek to conquer. At home and abroad, there seems to be no limit to Putin’s appetite to wreak mayhem in pursuit of an ever more elusive victory.The first missile to have landed in Poland – a NATO member – on Tuesday may well have been a Ukrainian anti-aircraft rocket intercepting an incoming Russian missile a short distance from one of Ukraine’s largest cities, Lviv, as suspected by Polish and NATO leaders. (President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, has insisted the missile was not Ukrainian)
But the proximate reason for this action was in fact Putin’s utterly inhumane carpet bombing of Ukrainian infrastructure. This is all part of Putin’s misguided, and likely futile, effort to hammer the nation into submission – a hail of rockets designed to knock out electricity, water, and other critical civilian infrastructure as winter looms.
Whatever the exact circumstances of the missile, one thing is clear. “Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Wednesday.
These attacks began at the outset of the war and have only increased in scope and virulence since Ukrainian forces last month attacked a bridge – one particularly close to Putin’s heart – between mainland Russia and Crimea, which the Russians annexed in 2014.
Russian retaliation – an onslaught of missile attacks – has expanded as Ukrainian forces have continued to push back Russian units and reclaim territory seized in the early days of the war.Now Poland is facing the repercussions from these attacks – and it’s not the only bordering country. Russian rockets have also knocked out power across neighboring Moldova, which is not a NATO member, and therefore attracted considerably less attention than the Polish incident.
But beyond these most recent missile attacks lies a laundry list of horrors Putin has launched that only seems to have driven his nation further from the pack of civilized powers that he once sought so desperately to join.
His forces have planted mines in vast stretches of territory in Kherson from which they’ve recently withdrawn – much as the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia stretching back to the 1970s. Indeed, Cambodian de-mining experts have even been called in to assist with the herculean task facing Ukraine in 2022. At the same time, Russian armies have also left behind evidence of unspeakable atrocities and torture, also reminiscent of the Khmer Rouge.
That said, a growing number of Russian soldiers have rebelled at what they have been asked to do and refused to fight. Amid plummeting morale, the UK’s Defense Ministry believes Russian troops may be prepared to shoot retreating or deserting soldiers.
Indeed a hotline and Telegram channel, launched as a Ukrainian military intelligence project called “I want to live,” designed to assist Russian soldiers eager to defect, has taken off, reportedly booking some 3,500 calls in its first two months of activity.
Putin has also tried, though he has been stymied at most turns, to establish black market networks abroad to source what he needs to fuel his war machine – much as Kim Jong-un has done in North Korea. The United States has already uncovered and recently sanctioned vast networks of such shadow companies and individuals centered in hubs from Taiwan to Armenia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, France, and Luxembourg to source high-tech goods for Russia’s collapsing military-industrial complex.