‘Moscow’s sharpened its attack and the mood is much more pessimistic’

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IAN BIRRELL: Kremlin steps up attack – mood suddenly more pessimistic

The tone suddenly became more pessimistic. Ukrainian leaders desperately demand more weapons as they warn Russia is carrying out a “genocide” in the Donbas region.

Deputy Defence Minister Ghana Malial said the fighting had reached its most intense level. ‘The enemy attacked our position in multiple directions at the same time. We have an extremely difficult and long battle phase ahead of us.

She is right. Three months into the war, the Kremlin has stepped up its offensive after a difficult start to its two largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Russian military leaders took over from Vladimir Putin’s intelligence agents who planned the disaster, shifting tactics from quick-fix “special operations” to long-term conventional warfare. This poses a huge danger both inside and outside Ukraine.

In the face of Putin’s attack, defend the country magnificently and immediately enter a state of war. This was aided by Western allies, who were united in horror in a horrific land grab.

But now there are signs that this spirit is fading, with signs of dissent and division — just as Russia’s pounding military machine has entered a higher gear.

IAN BIRRELL: The war has been three months, and after a failed start in which it failed to capture the two largest cities of Kyiv and Kharkov, the Kremlin stepped up its offensive.

On Thursday, Alexey Arestovich, an influential analyst and adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, regularly updates the video. He acknowledged that Russia occupied the town of Lehman as it neared the completion of its occupation of the Luhansk region. (Pictured: Pro-Russian troops in Mariupol in April)

Slowly but surely, Moscow is making progress in the Donbass, hitting Ukrainian fortifications with a coordinated military effort to seize the eastern region it first invaded eight years ago.

Boris Johnson has warned that Putin “is continuing to chew the ground”. At the same time, the vicious dictator tightened his grip on the occupied areas of the south, preparing to formally annex more stolen terrain, eventually capturing the key port of Mariupol.

On Thursday, Alexey Arestovich, an influential analyst and adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, regularly updates the video. He acknowledged that Russia occupied the town of Lehman as it neared the completion of its occupation of the Luhansk region.

The approach taken by the Russian military shows that they have very talented commanders, as well as a growing military capability and management level, he said.

His assessment sparked angry reactions on social media, accusing him of being the mouthpiece of the Kremlin. But as the war dragged on, the response underscored the widening rifts in a weary country.

Mariupol’s beleaguered fighters accused – supported by distraught wives – of lacking adequate support despite widespread praise for their heroism.

Former defense minister adviser Yuriy Butusov asked why politicians failed to “buy a missile” three years before the war. Others blamed Mayor Mariupol for not ordering an evacuation in time.

A young congresswoman from Zelensky’s party provoked the division by proposing a law that would allow the execution of soldiers who refused to fight.

Boris Johnson has warned that Putin “is continuing to chew the ground”. At the same time, the vicious dictator tightened his grip on the occupied areas of the south, preparing to formally annex more stolen terrain, eventually capturing the key port of Mariupol. (Destruction caused by Russian shelling of Lviv last month)

The bill echoes Stalin’s notorious murder squads, who followed the Red Army into battle to bolster loyalty, were hastily withdrawn after an outcry. But at the same time, there were signs on the front that ill-equipped soldiers were frustrated by the relentless fire. Don’t doubt that Russia’s massive force is formidable, despite logistical failures and low morale among trained conscripts, despite all the heady talk of Ukrainian victory.

A video widely circulated on social media shows 20 soldiers pleading with Zelensky not to use them as “meat” as they begged “to provide all necessary weapons, ammunition and manpower, as at the moment we are unable to carry out the orders given to them. Order”. I’ve also heard fighters complaining about “hell” in battle, as volunteers lack basic equipment, not even uniforms and protective vests.

Putin’s ultimate strategy remains unclear, even for him. Does he intend to occupy the Donbass and the southern coast, slowly stifling the country’s economic life and stirring up internal tensions? Or will he move again to Kharkiv, where a third of the houses are in ruins due to what he calls the “liberation” of Russian-speaking areas?

On Thursday, I heard a huge explosion in the city; it was another young family walking down the street when the body of a five-month-old baby fell on the roof of the porch.

As Ukraine cracks, sirens from abroad — such as French President Emmanuel Macron, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and respected war historian Max Hastings — begin Implying that the country must give Putin land in exchange for peace. And, as global media interest inevitably begins to wane, a gloomy New York Times headline urged President Joe Biden to limit U.S. support.

Putin has proven time and time again that appeasement doesn’t work for dictators, and that only the most naive fools would believe his promises in a peace deal. Ukraine is also a democracy – its leaders are currently unable to trade land for peace after the gruesome murders, rapes and looting of the Kremlin in their country.

We must do everything possible to help Ukraine resist the invading forces, hoping that a brave but traumatized society can cover up any rifts. Currently, that means urgently sending long-range artillery and rocket launchers to the front lines so that troops can respond to attacks on the Donbas steppe.

With the right weapons, they’ve proven themselves – but now the battle and terrain have changed. This is still the seismic struggle of our time: a struggle between democracy and dictatorship that Ukraine – and the West – simply cannot afford to lose.

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