On the 287th day of the war, Putin’s message to the world is unequivocal: we are still at the beginning. And for the success of its ‘special operation’, Moscow is ready to “defend itself with all the means at its disposal”, if there are no other possibilities. The Russian president has once again raised his tone, explaining that to bear fruit, the war “could be a long process” despite the already “significant results” of the Russian conquests achieved so far in the field. And still evoking the specter of nuclear power, a threat that according to the tsar “is increasing”. But Moscow has no intention of “shaking” the atomic bombs “like a razor in front of the world. It is a factor of deterrence”. Because “we haven’t gone mad”, they are just a “defense tool” to respond to a possible attack, assured the Russian head of state. The rhetoric of the Kremlin leader aims to show security and determination while Moscow seems to have been in trouble for some time. But according to NATO, that of the invaders is a strategy aimed at “freezing the conflict in order to recover and launch a new offensive next spring”.
For Putin, however, “it makes no sense to talk about a new military mobilisation” in Russia. Of the 300,000 called up, 150,000 have been deployed to the conflict zone, the leader said. Numbers that try to communicate that Moscow has not yet given all it can, while in reality the Kremlin’s concerns are growing after the Ukrainian raids in recent days with drones in full Russian territory. According to Kiev, in the Kursk region on the border with Ukraine, the Moscow military is building fortifications, fearing trespassing by the Ukrainian armed forces. For the British 007, they are preparations that aim to “kindle a patriotic feeling” and instill fear of a Ukrainian attack on Russian soil.
Strategy aside, it is clear that Kiev’s attacks in Russia’s Ryazan, Saratov and Kursk regions have skyrocketed alertness in Moscow. And the United States are also worried, so much so that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has assured that Washington “has neither encouraged nor allowed the Ukrainians to strike inside Russia”. While the White House said it was “committed to ensuring that the Ukrainians have the means to defend themselves and to avoid any escalation of the war. But in the end it is the Ukrainians who make their decisions”.
Although veiled, the US message is a warning to stop with bombs on Russian airports, to avoid the worst. But Kiev feels strong, because – in the words of President Zelensky – “the dictator Putin has lost”, even if “he is doing everything to ensure that Russia continues to fight, if only so as not to admit to himself and to others that a historic mistake has been made.” On the diplomatic front, nothing has been done, with NATO secretary Jens Stoltenberg reiterating that now “there are no conditions for negotiations”. And it is certainly difficult to talk about dialogue when bombs continue to fall and civilian casualties increase, while Moscow is intent on exploiting every opportunity given by its ally Winter to bring the population to its knees.
Meanwhile, the EU has announced the ninth package of sanctions against Russia. “We will cut off Moscow’s access to all types of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles”, including by banning “the export of engines to third countries, such as Iran, which could supply drones to Russia”, assured the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen explaining the content of the new measures also addressed to members of the Russian armed forces, official officials and companies operating in the defense sector, but also members of the Duma, ministries, political parties and governors. “As well – added Borrell – to the so-called judges who, instead of upholding the rule of law, provide false legitimacy to the Russian rulers and their illegal decisions”.