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With Bluster and Threats, Putin Casts the West as the Enemy

merlin_214079571_d4df6afe-10d1-4efa-8fc1

Declaring that Russia would annex four regions of Ukraine, which the West rejects as illegal, the Russian president accused the U.S. and its allies of “despotism’’ and “Satanism.’’

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President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia addressed a rally and concert in Red Square on Friday celebrating Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian provinces.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia addressed a rally and concert in Red Square on Friday celebrating Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian provinces.Credit…Alexander Nemenov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Sept. 30, 2022, 7:03 p.m. ET

President Vladimir V. Putin asserted on Friday that Russia would annex four Ukrainian regions and decried the United States for “Satanism,” in a speech that marked an escalation in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. In starkly confrontational terms, he positioned Russia as fighting an existential battle with Western elites he deemed “the enemy.”

Speaking to hundreds of Russian lawmakers and governors in a grand Kremlin hall, Mr. Putin said that the residents of the four regions — which are still partially controlled by Ukrainian forces — would become Russia’s citizens “forever.” He then held a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of those regions to start the official annexation process, before clasping hands with them and chanting “Russia! Russia!”

The Biden administration quickly condemned the annexations, saying they “have no legitimacy,” and enacted a round of new sanctions on Russia’s defense and technology industries as punishment for Moscow’s actions.

Mr. Putin’s address came against a backdrop of Russian setbacks on the battlefield, where Ukraine’s forces have scored stunning victories in recent weeks in the east. As the Russian leader spoke, Ukrainian officials said their army had moved closer to encircling the Russian-occupied town of Lyman, a strategically important hub in the Donetsk region that lies inside the territory Mr. Putin is claiming.

Ukrainian service members are seen driving on a buggy past the body of a Russian soldier in Kupiansk, Ukraine, on Friday.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

Even by Mr. Putin’s increasingly antagonistic standards, the speech was an extraordinary combination of bluster and menace, mixing conspiratorial riffs against an American-led “neocolonial system” with an appeal to the world to see Russia as the leader of an uprising against American power.

He referred to “the ruling circles of the so-called West” as “the enemy” — a word he rarely uses in reference to the West — and struck a tone of anger and defiance. And he again raised the specter of nuclear weapons, which the Kremlin has made veiled threats about using, noting in a cryptic aside that the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Japan in 1945 had “created a precedent.”

“Not only do Western elites deny national sovereignty and international law,” he said in the 37-minute address. “Their hegemony has a pronounced character of totalitarianism, despotism and apartheid.”

Western leaders have condemned Russia’s annexations as illegal, and the “referendums” that preceded them — purporting to show overwhelming local support for joining Russia — as fraudulent. President Biden said “the United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.”

In the United Nations Security Council, 10 of 15 nations voted on Friday in favor of a U.S.-Albania resolution condemning Moscow’s actions, but Russia exercised the veto power it holds as a permanent member. Mr. Putin’s sometime allies, China and India, which have expressed growing uneasiness with his war on Ukraine, were among four nations that abstained; only Russia voted against the resolution.

Ukraine’s government has rebuffed Mr. Putin’s claims and vowed to retake territory captured by Russia in the east and south. “Everything will be Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Friday on the Telegram social network.

In a video, Mr. Zelensky accused the Kremlin of trying to “steal something that does not belong to it,” adding “Ukraine will not allow that.”

The Russian Consulate in New York was vandalized on Friday.Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

He also announced that he was fast-tracking his country’s application to join NATO — a move that Russia vehemently opposes and that faces steep hurdles, given that admission to the alliance requires unanimous consent from all 30 member nations.

Mr. Putin insisted that Russia’s position on annexing the four territories was nonnegotiable, adding that it would defend them “with all the forces and means at our disposal.”

“I call on the Kyiv regime to immediately cease-fire and all military action,” he said, and “to return to the negotiating table.”

“But we will not discuss the decision of the people of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson,” he went on, referring to the four Ukrainian regions being annexed. “It has been made. Russia will not betray it.”

Earlier Friday, Russia unleashed one of the deadliest attacks against Ukrainian civilians in weeks with a strike in the Zaporizhzhia region, one of those Russia has said it is annexing. The attack killed 25 people and injured another 66, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said. It was part of a flurry of strikes against Ukrainian towns just hours before Mr. Putin spoke.

Video

Video player loading

The strike killed at least 25 civilians at a checkpoint and bus stop, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, making it one of the deadliest attacks against Ukrainian civilians in recent weeks.CreditCredit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Speaking at the White House, Mr. Biden said “America and its allies are not going be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats.” But for Washington and its European allies, Mr. Putin’s decision to escalate his rhetoric, while insisting he was ready to negotiate, sets up difficult choices about how much direct confrontation they are willing to risk with Moscow.

The military draft that Mr. Putin declared last week means that he will soon have more men to send to the front line, while his claims of an existential conflict appeared designed to prepare his populace for more trying times ahead.

“The West has to think what is the final price it is ready to pay for Ukraine,” said Alexander Baunov, a Russian international policy expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “And it is a very serious question because we don’t know the further appetites of Putin’s Russia.”

But Mr. Putin faces monumental challenges of his own. Conscription has proved so unpopular that on Thursday he took the rare step of acknowledging on national television mistakes by his government in how it was carried out.

Tens of thousands of young men are fleeing Russia and the draft, braving miles-long lines at the borders with Georgia and Kazakhstan, a signal that many Russians are not buying Mr. Putin’s arguments for the invasion of Ukraine. And the chaos of the draft has dealt another setback to Russia’s sanctions-scarred economy.

Russian recruits in Prudboi, in the Volgograd region of Russia, on Thursday.Credit…Associated Press

Mr. Putin’s answer on Friday was to respond with threats, jingoism and conspiracy theories. In the evening, he appeared at a concert and rally in Red Square and, standing before St. Basil’s Cathedral, led the crowd in a chant of “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!”

“The truth is behind us, and in truth there is strength, which means victory!” Mr. Putin said at the end of his brief address at the rally, borrowing a catchphrase from a 2000 Russian crime film. “Victory will be ours!”

In his speech at the Kremlin, Mr. Putin cast the conflict with the West in even more severe terms than he had previously, reeling off centuries of Western military actions to denounce the American-led world order as fundamentally evil, corrupt and set on Russia’s destruction.

“The repression of freedom is taking on the outlines of a reverse religion, of real Satanism,” Mr. Putin said, asserting that liberal Western values on matters like gender identity amounted to a “denial of man.”

But Mr. Putin offered few new details on the matter that is now perhaps of greatest concern in Western capitals — whether, and at what point, he might use weapons of mass destruction to force Ukraine to capitulate. His spokesman said earlier in the day that after the annexation of the four regions — a move that virtually no other country is expected to recognize — an attack on those regions would be treated as an attack on Russia.

Without saying so directly, Mr. Putin hinted that the role of nuclear weapons in war is on his mind. Describing the West as “deceitful and hypocritical through and through,” Mr. Putin noted that the United States was the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. He then added: “By the way, they created a precedent.”

At the concert and rally in Red Square in Moscow on Friday.Credit…Reuters

Mr. Putin was appealing to three key audiences. To Russians, he sought to justify the expanding hardship his war has been causing by insisting they were fighting for their survival. To the West, he worked to telegraph his determination that he was unbowed by sanctions or arms deliveries to Ukraine, and would keep fighting — with the veiled threat of Russia’s enormous nuclear arsenal in the background.

And to the rest of the world, Mr. Putin sought to cast himself as the leader of a global movement against the “Western racists” he claimed were imposing American hegemony. The West, he claimed, had not changed from the centuries past in which it brutally colonized other countries and fought wars to gain economic advantage.

Western countries, he insisted, had “no moral right” to condemn the annexation of parts of Ukraine.

“The Western elites remain colonizers as they always were,” Mr. Putin said. “They have divided the world into their vassals — the so-called civilized countries — and everyone else.”

As Mr. Putin spoke, a crowd gathered on Red Square for the concert and rally. Russian media reported that Moscow universities had directed students to attend. Pro-Kremlin pop music performers belted out nationalist songs from a stage that said “Russia!” and was flanked with banners reading “Choice of the people!” and “Together forever!”

At one point, a young woman in an orange sweatshirt took the stage, describing herself as a volunteer helping people in Russian-occupied Ukraine. Her husband had been drafted a week ago, she said.

“I’m not moping and will wait for him and support him,” she said. Appearing to hold back tears, she added: “I call on you, women: support your husbands, sons and fathers. Everything will be OK.”

Mr. Putin is seen on screens during the broadcast of a concert marking the declared annexation of the four regions near St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square.Credit…Reuters

Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

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With Bluster and Threats, Putin Casts the West as the Enemy

merlin_214079571_d4df6afe-10d1-4efa-8fc1

Declaring that Russia would annex four regions of Ukraine, which the West rejects as illegal, the Russian president accused the U.S. and its allies of “despotism’’ and “Satanism.’’

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    As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.

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President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia addressed a rally and concert in Red Square on Friday celebrating Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian provinces.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia addressed a rally and concert in Red Square on Friday celebrating Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian provinces.Credit…Alexander Nemenov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Sept. 30, 2022, 7:03 p.m. ET

President Vladimir V. Putin asserted on Friday that Russia would annex four Ukrainian regions and decried the United States for “Satanism,” in a speech that marked an escalation in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. In starkly confrontational terms, he positioned Russia as fighting an existential battle with Western elites he deemed “the enemy.”

Speaking to hundreds of Russian lawmakers and governors in a grand Kremlin hall, Mr. Putin said that the residents of the four regions — which are still partially controlled by Ukrainian forces — would become Russia’s citizens “forever.” He then held a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of those regions to start the official annexation process, before clasping hands with them and chanting “Russia! Russia!”

The Biden administration quickly condemned the annexations, saying they “have no legitimacy,” and enacted a round of new sanctions on Russia’s defense and technology industries as punishment for Moscow’s actions.

Mr. Putin’s address came against a backdrop of Russian setbacks on the battlefield, where Ukraine’s forces have scored stunning victories in recent weeks in the east. As the Russian leader spoke, Ukrainian officials said their army had moved closer to encircling the Russian-occupied town of Lyman, a strategically important hub in the Donetsk region that lies inside the territory Mr. Putin is claiming.

Ukrainian service members are seen driving on a buggy past the body of a Russian soldier in Kupiansk, Ukraine, on Friday.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

Even by Mr. Putin’s increasingly antagonistic standards, the speech was an extraordinary combination of bluster and menace, mixing conspiratorial riffs against an American-led “neocolonial system” with an appeal to the world to see Russia as the leader of an uprising against American power.

He referred to “the ruling circles of the so-called West” as “the enemy” — a word he rarely uses in reference to the West — and struck a tone of anger and defiance. And he again raised the specter of nuclear weapons, which the Kremlin has made veiled threats about using, noting in a cryptic aside that the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Japan in 1945 had “created a precedent.”

“Not only do Western elites deny national sovereignty and international law,” he said in the 37-minute address. “Their hegemony has a pronounced character of totalitarianism, despotism and apartheid.”

Western leaders have condemned Russia’s annexations as illegal, and the “referendums” that preceded them — purporting to show overwhelming local support for joining Russia — as fraudulent. President Biden said “the United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.”

In the United Nations Security Council, 10 of 15 nations voted on Friday in favor of a U.S.-Albania resolution condemning Moscow’s actions, but Russia exercised the veto power it holds as a permanent member. Mr. Putin’s sometime allies, China and India, which have expressed growing uneasiness with his war on Ukraine, were among four nations that abstained; only Russia voted against the resolution.

Ukraine’s government has rebuffed Mr. Putin’s claims and vowed to retake territory captured by Russia in the east and south. “Everything will be Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Friday on the Telegram social network.

In a video, Mr. Zelensky accused the Kremlin of trying to “steal something that does not belong to it,” adding “Ukraine will not allow that.”

The Russian Consulate in New York was vandalized on Friday.Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

He also announced that he was fast-tracking his country’s application to join NATO — a move that Russia vehemently opposes and that faces steep hurdles, given that admission to the alliance requires unanimous consent from all 30 member nations.

Mr. Putin insisted that Russia’s position on annexing the four territories was nonnegotiable, adding that it would defend them “with all the forces and means at our disposal.”

“I call on the Kyiv regime to immediately cease-fire and all military action,” he said, and “to return to the negotiating table.”

“But we will not discuss the decision of the people of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson,” he went on, referring to the four Ukrainian regions being annexed. “It has been made. Russia will not betray it.”

Earlier Friday, Russia unleashed one of the deadliest attacks against Ukrainian civilians in weeks with a strike in the Zaporizhzhia region, one of those Russia has said it is annexing. The attack killed 25 people and injured another 66, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said. It was part of a flurry of strikes against Ukrainian towns just hours before Mr. Putin spoke.

Video

Video player loading

The strike killed at least 25 civilians at a checkpoint and bus stop, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, making it one of the deadliest attacks against Ukrainian civilians in recent weeks.CreditCredit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Speaking at the White House, Mr. Biden said “America and its allies are not going be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats.” But for Washington and its European allies, Mr. Putin’s decision to escalate his rhetoric, while insisting he was ready to negotiate, sets up difficult choices about how much direct confrontation they are willing to risk with Moscow.

The military draft that Mr. Putin declared last week means that he will soon have more men to send to the front line, while his claims of an existential conflict appeared designed to prepare his populace for more trying times ahead.

“The West has to think what is the final price it is ready to pay for Ukraine,” said Alexander Baunov, a Russian international policy expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “And it is a very serious question because we don’t know the further appetites of Putin’s Russia.”

But Mr. Putin faces monumental challenges of his own. Conscription has proved so unpopular that on Thursday he took the rare step of acknowledging on national television mistakes by his government in how it was carried out.

Tens of thousands of young men are fleeing Russia and the draft, braving miles-long lines at the borders with Georgia and Kazakhstan, a signal that many Russians are not buying Mr. Putin’s arguments for the invasion of Ukraine. And the chaos of the draft has dealt another setback to Russia’s sanctions-scarred economy.

Russian recruits in Prudboi, in the Volgograd region of Russia, on Thursday.Credit…Associated Press

Mr. Putin’s answer on Friday was to respond with threats, jingoism and conspiracy theories. In the evening, he appeared at a concert and rally in Red Square and, standing before St. Basil’s Cathedral, led the crowd in a chant of “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!”

“The truth is behind us, and in truth there is strength, which means victory!” Mr. Putin said at the end of his brief address at the rally, borrowing a catchphrase from a 2000 Russian crime film. “Victory will be ours!”

In his speech at the Kremlin, Mr. Putin cast the conflict with the West in even more severe terms than he had previously, reeling off centuries of Western military actions to denounce the American-led world order as fundamentally evil, corrupt and set on Russia’s destruction.

“The repression of freedom is taking on the outlines of a reverse religion, of real Satanism,” Mr. Putin said, asserting that liberal Western values on matters like gender identity amounted to a “denial of man.”

But Mr. Putin offered few new details on the matter that is now perhaps of greatest concern in Western capitals — whether, and at what point, he might use weapons of mass destruction to force Ukraine to capitulate. His spokesman said earlier in the day that after the annexation of the four regions — a move that virtually no other country is expected to recognize — an attack on those regions would be treated as an attack on Russia.

Without saying so directly, Mr. Putin hinted that the role of nuclear weapons in war is on his mind. Describing the West as “deceitful and hypocritical through and through,” Mr. Putin noted that the United States was the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. He then added: “By the way, they created a precedent.”

At the concert and rally in Red Square in Moscow on Friday.Credit…Reuters

Mr. Putin was appealing to three key audiences. To Russians, he sought to justify the expanding hardship his war has been causing by insisting they were fighting for their survival. To the West, he worked to telegraph his determination that he was unbowed by sanctions or arms deliveries to Ukraine, and would keep fighting — with the veiled threat of Russia’s enormous nuclear arsenal in the background.

And to the rest of the world, Mr. Putin sought to cast himself as the leader of a global movement against the “Western racists” he claimed were imposing American hegemony. The West, he claimed, had not changed from the centuries past in which it brutally colonized other countries and fought wars to gain economic advantage.

Western countries, he insisted, had “no moral right” to condemn the annexation of parts of Ukraine.

“The Western elites remain colonizers as they always were,” Mr. Putin said. “They have divided the world into their vassals — the so-called civilized countries — and everyone else.”

As Mr. Putin spoke, a crowd gathered on Red Square for the concert and rally. Russian media reported that Moscow universities had directed students to attend. Pro-Kremlin pop music performers belted out nationalist songs from a stage that said “Russia!” and was flanked with banners reading “Choice of the people!” and “Together forever!”

At one point, a young woman in an orange sweatshirt took the stage, describing herself as a volunteer helping people in Russian-occupied Ukraine. Her husband had been drafted a week ago, she said.

“I’m not moping and will wait for him and support him,” she said. Appearing to hold back tears, she added: “I call on you, women: support your husbands, sons and fathers. Everything will be OK.”

Mr. Putin is seen on screens during the broadcast of a concert marking the declared annexation of the four regions near St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square.Credit…Reuters

Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

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In New York, Russian Consulate Is Vandalized With Red Paint

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The Russian consulate in Manhattan was vandalized on Friday, according to the police.

The Russian consulate in Manhattan was vandalized on Friday, according to the police.Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

By Karen Zraick and Mable Chan

  • Sept. 30, 2022Updated 5:42 p.m. ET

The Russian Consulate in New York was vandalized with spray paint early Friday morning, according to the police.

Officers responded to a 911 call about vandalism on the facade of the building, located on East 91st Street, just off Fifth Avenue, at about 1:30 a.m. on Friday, the police said.

No words were visible, just wide streaks of red paint sprawled across the ground floor facade of the building, covering windows and a set of double doors. But some on social media and a few people passing by interpreted the vandalism to be a protest of Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

The vandalism appeared just hours before President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia gave a belligerent speech in Moscow about the annexation of four regions in Ukraine.

Some of the people who stopped in front of the consulate on Friday morning expressed their support for Ukraine.

Maria Phillips, 39, who was born in what was then the Soviet Union and now lives is London, took photos of the scene.

“I feel moved by it,” she said. “It obviously stands for blood, which Russia is responsible for, killing Ukrainian people and sending people to die in the war, which is pointless and cruel and stupid.”

Marina Kovalenko, 57, a personal trainer who lives nearby, saw photos of the paint on social media and hurried over to catch a glimpse. To her, it was a work of art, and she commended the vandals and offered to bail them out if they were caught.

There have been no arrests, and the episode was deemed a possible bias incident, the police said.

“I always was thinking to spray the flag, but I’m short,” Ms. Kovalenko joked. “And I know it’s criminal.”

She said she moved to the United States from Russia 11 years ago, but her family remained there. She added that she thought the paint should remain until Russia’s government changed course.

“I wish I was brave enough to do it myself,” she said.

Julia Krushelnysky, a Ukrainian American senior at the Spence School across the street from the consulate, teared up as she surveyed the scene. She said it had been very difficult for her to attend school daily as the war grinds on.

“It’s very emotional to have this very visual representation of the Russian consulate every day, something a little bit tough for me,” she said.

The Russian consulate referred questions about the incident to the U.S. State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A sign on the consulate’s door said all appointments were canceled for the day.

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The rise of the dark web corporation – SC Media

The rise of the dark web corporation  SC Media
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Putin to preside over ceremony adding four Ukrainian territories to Russia – Kremlin – Reuters.com

Putin to preside over ceremony adding four Ukrainian territories to Russia – Kremlin  Reuters.com
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Kremlin: 4 regions of Ukraine to be folded in Russia Friday – Spectrum News NY1

Kremlin: 4 regions of Ukraine to be folded in Russia Friday  Spectrum News NY1
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Russia’s army: An overestimated power in the war against Ukraine

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After the fall of the Soviet Union, Moscow did everything it could to maintain its status as a superpower — including as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. When it became clear that Russia could not claim a right to the spot as an economic power, it instead defined its greatness in military terms.

Over the decades, Russia’s army has been touted as one of the strongest in the world. Indeed, a nuclear-armed military. As if to remind the world of this fact, President Vladimir Putin has regularly treated both Russians and the world to perfectly choreographed parades and military exercises.

How powerful an army really is, however, cannot be demonstrated by goose-stepping on the Red Square, but on the battlefield. Now, the Russians are being shown up by a much smaller army in Ukraine. How can that be?

How big is Putin’s army?

On paper, the Russian armed forces claim to have 1 million soldiers, and in the near future 1.1 million, according to Margarete Klein of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. But the real size is much smaller, she told DW.

A large number of the deployable Russian units have already been used in Ukraine, she said. “They have suffered major losses in terms of soldiers killed or injured.”

Exact casualty numbers are difficult to determine, but US intelligence believes Russia has suffered at least tens of thousands of dead and wounded.

The idea that Russia has infinite reserves of deployable soldiers is a far cry from reality, said George Barros of the Institute for the Study of War, a US think tank. He added that the course the war has taken so far proves that the world has long overestimated the strength of the Russian army. The goal, he said, of Putin’s recent partial mobilization push is only to maintain the current front line after all the losses.

Sent to the front without training or equipment

The state of Russia’s military strength can also be illustrated by the groups of people currently being drafted. “There are men there who are over 50-years old and have health problems,” Barros said. This observation has been backed up by numerous stories and videos posted to social media.

Reservists need to be trained and equipped before they deploy to war, Barros explained. However, many will now receive only one or two months of training, which is far from enough. Others are even being sent to the front lines without any training or equipment, he said, adding that the only thing these conditions are likely to accomplish is increasing the casualty numbers.

According to US-based Russian security expert Pavel Luzin, Ukraine will never abandon the fight, even as Putin’s henchman carry out sham referendums in the east of the country. Furthermore, he said, Russia’s arms industry is not in a position to provide significant amounts of supplies in the short-term, certainly not for those currently being drafted. Margarete Klein added that they are now using old weapons and bullets that have been in storage since Soviet times.

Then again it is unclear how many of these stored weapons have already been sold as result of corruption, or if they are even in working order anymore. The Russian arms industry lacks the necessary microchips for high-precision weapons and other spare parts, Klein said.

The only advantage Russia has really is a greater population at its disposal to draft into the military. However, as Barros pointed out, an army needs more than soldiers to be successful. It needs modern weapons, good training, leadership, motivation, and logistical planning.

“Simply putting more men on the front lines is not going to solve the problem the Russians have,” the defense expert said. The well-trained and well-equipped mercenaries have also not had the desired impact, Barros added.

Intimidating the West with talk of nuclear weapons

Experts agree that using the specter of nuclear weapons is meant to intimidate the West. “This threat is not new,” said Klein. The goal, she said, is to undermine the West’s support for Ukraine. Militarily, the use of nuclear weapons would achieve nothing. They could have some use politically, but Klein believes that their deployment is unlikely given that it would almost certainly lose Russia the support of key allies China and India.

However, other experts, such as Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute in Washington, point out that “if Putin is faced with the choice of either using nuclear weapons or having to answer for his crimes in an international court, he will choose the nuclear option.”

Carpenter said that Putin still wants to end the conflict quickly, and that if Ukraine and West showed a willingness to negotiate, Moscow would probably come to the table.

On the other hand, Klein, Barros, and Luzin all agreed that the war will only really come to an end if the West either abandons Ukraine or Putin suffers a total defeat.

This piece was originally published in German.

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US Army doctor and anesthesiologist charged with conspiring to provide US military medical records to Russian government

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A wife and husband from Maryland have been charged with conspiring to provide the Russian government with personal medical records from the US government and military, according to a newly unsealed federal indictment.

Anna Gabrielian, an anesthesiologist practicing in Baltimore, along with her husband, Jamie Lee Henry, a major and doctor in the US Army, allegedly provided “individually identifiable health information,” which is protected under federal law, to an FBI undercover agent posing as a Russian government employee.

Both Gabrielian and Henry were arrested Thursday morning, according to the US Attorney’s office in the District of Maryland. After appearing in court, they were released on home detention with 24/7 location monitoring. Gabrielian also has a $500,000 unsecured bond.

According to the indictment, Gabrielian was contacted by the undercover agent – who claimed to be an employee of the Russian embassy – in August, after Gabrielian had reached out to the Russian embassy to offer her and her husband’s assistance to the Russian government several months earlier.

CNN is reaching out to the defendants. No attorneys have been listed in court records.

During a meeting with the undercover agent in a Baltimore hotel, according to the indictment, Gabrielian said she was “motivated by patriotism toward Russia” and wanted to provide assistance even if it meant risking jail time. She also allegedly told the undercover agent that her husband could provide information on how the US military sets up hospitals during war and on training provided to the Ukrainian military, and warned that any information they pulled needed to be “massively important” due to the risk of being uncovered.

In a separate meeting, Henry claimed to have “looked into volunteering to join the Russian Army after the conflict in Ukraine began,” but didn’t have the necessary combat experience, according to the indictment. Henry has a “Secret” level security clearance, the indictment says.

Gabrielian and Henry both suggested that they provide the undercover agent with medical information from members of the US military and their families from Fort Bragg, where Henry was stationed as a staff internist, as well as from the medical institution where Gabrielian worked in Baltimore, the indictment alleges.

Henry, the indictment says, provided to the undercover agent during an August meeting the health records of a US Army officer, Department of Defense employee, and the spouses of three Army veterans, two of whom are deceased. The indictment also alleges that Gabrielian conspired to provide the medical information of “the spouse of a government employee and military veteran.”

Gabrielian also made plans for her, her husband and their children to flee to Turkey and gave a cover story to the undercover agent to explain their communications, according to the indictment.

“I don’t want to end in jail here with my kids being hostages over my head,” she allegedly told the undercover agent.

In another meeting, Gabrielian allegedly told the undercover agent that her husband was a “coward” and was worried about violating HIPAA – the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

She also recommended Henry read a book from the 1980s about how Russian spies were trained and recruited during the Soviet Union in order to prepare, according to the indictment.

“Because it’s the mentality of sacrificing everything,” Gabrielian allegedly told the undercover agent about recommending the book, “and loyalty in you from day one. That’s not something you walked away from.”

Henry told the undercover agent that if the US were to declare war against Russia, “at that point, I’ll have some ethical issues I have to work through,” according to the indictment.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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Judge declines to toss John Durham case against Steele dossier source – The Washington Post


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Alastair Campbell’s Diary: Liz Truss is bringing about her own downfall

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So the power in the land has moved from Winchester boy Dishy Rishi Sunak to Old Etonian KamiKwasi Kwarteng. And as Sunak leaves the frontbench frontline to spend more time with his millions, Kwarteng delivers a mega-mini-budget so brazenly designed for the pound-shorting hedge-funders and the Tory Party donor-sphere it makes you wonder whether Liz Truss is a very high-profile undercover agent for the BBB campaign.

That’s BBB as in Bring Back Boris, whose founder and campaign director, Boris Johnson, is currently getting his mates to call round Red Wall MPs asking whether they miss having someone who at least pretended to be there for the many, not the few, and talked the talk about levelling up. This new version of the 12-year-old Tory virus doesn’t even bother with the pretence. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointed out – in the absence of any factual, non-gaslighting government assessment – earn less than £155,000 a year, and you’re worse off. Earn more and you’re way better off, with poorer people helping you out.

As Truss sat watching the backside of the close friend and now economic bedfellow she appointed as chancellor, as he stood erect at the Dispatch Box tossing out goodies to his old school pals, the message could not have been clearer – oh, she does love to be “very clear about this”: “We’re a bunch of smug, cruel, arrogant, know-it-all ideologues who wrote a book a while back about slashing taxes for the rich, shredding regulations for the corporates and smashing rights for idle British workers, called Britannia Unchained, and we have gone from being remaindered to becoming Masters of the Universe, so fuck the lot of you, we’re giving it a go. And if it all goes tits up, the pound-shorters will look after us, so it’s win-win even if we lose to Labour.”

One despairing northern Tory even suggested to me that the only logic he could see in KamiKwasi’s strategy was that it was aimed less at winning an election than winning riches for the mates of the Masters of the Universe, and letting Labour in with an economic landscape so reduced to rubble they would never be able to sort it in time for the election after next.

I’m not sure I buy that. I have the feeling Truss believes this can be a winning strategy. The Thatcher trickle-down tribute band act won her the leadership election, and she reckons it can win her a general election, too. Policy “shock and awe” was necessary to try to get away for the third time in six years with the con that a new PM means a new government, and that despite being a minister with Cameron, May and Johnson, the failings of a wasted decade have nothing to do with her. This is made easier by those media outlets propagandising for her as readily as they did for her predecessors. “At last a true Tory budget” rejoiced Lord Dacre of Pyongyang’s Daily Mail, without reference to the fawning headlines over those of KamiKwasi’s predecessors.

As for the Express, how many Tory PMs do we have to have before their readers realise the paper is literally churning out cut-and-paste bullshit for all of them, on their amazing abilities to deliver on endlessly repeated promises to get the economy roaring, show the world what a success Brexit is, fix the NHS, fix social care, and all the other stuff they have all spectacularly failed to do?

Far more important than anything the papers said, mind you, were the strong statements by the RSPB and the National Trust against what they see as the massive threat to wildlife posed by 38 new low-regulation “investment zones”. If I were Lizzie Twarteng, I would not fancy taking on a radicalised RSPB. I joined today.

Two huge stories last week that barely figured on most of the media’s radar yet which, had they happened under Labour, would have sent the press into meltdown.

First, the shorting of the pound I mentioned above. When George Soros made millions betting against sterling ahead of Black Wednesday 30 years ago, he was making a judgment based on hard-headed economic and political analysis. Last week’s mega-mini-budget pound-shorters seem to have had access to decision-makers and decisions ahead of time. Sounds like insider trading to me. If it had been under Labour, I’m sure Yates of the Yard would have been all over it.

The second story concerns Mark Fullbrook, Truss’s chief of staff, whose salary is being paid not by the government but by his lobbying company. This is the same Fullbrook who had been quizzed by the FBI about his role in an overseas political funding scandal, another real news story that sank without trace.

“It is not unusual for a special adviser or civil servant to join government on secondment,” said No 10 in defence of the Fullbrook arrangement. Come again? We are not talking about someone helping manage a new IT system at the Department of Paperclips. We are talking about the chief of staff to the prime minister.

There were questions raised about whether this bizarre arrangement was so Fullbrook could avoid paying tax, which, given the nature of this government, would not be a surprise. Tax, like the law, is for the little people. But it misses the point. The arrangement represents a clear conflict of interest. I hate that old phrase “it wouldn’t have happened in my day,” but, well, it wouldn’t, and if it had, my God you would have heard of it by now. Lord Dacre of Pyongyang would have gone full Starmerbeergate mode by now.

I hope some of you caught, and enjoyed, the first episode of Make Me Prime Minister on Tuesday, the new Channel 4 series in which Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi and I are on the hunt for an alternative PM. Twelve contestants – 11 now that we have had the first elimination after the battle to find a good education policy – are competing to show they have what it takes.

Sunday Times journalist Tim Shipman, one of the media figures occasionally putting our candidates through their paces, accurately pointed out that there was a greater rigour to our process than the one that saw the Tories choose between Truss and Sunak (neither of whom would have made our final!).

I was also thrilled to see him write that he felt confident, having seen some of the episodes, that as well as being good telly, the series should be good for politics, too. Let’s hope so. My God, we need new blood, and if you stick with the series, I think you will see that several of the candidates are easily as good as some of the politicians we regularly see on the news.

It was great fun working with Sayeeda Warsi, who may be a Tory, but she is northern, warm, loves a good laugh, and loathes what her party has become and is doing to the country almost as much as I do. She also has a very good habit of saying what she thinks. So when we were interviewed by the Times magazine, I loved that she wasn’t buying into the idea that Liz Truss putting people of colour into top jobs in government somehow gave her or the government a free pass on racism. Sayeeda, remember, was at the forefront of the campaign to get her party to take Islamophobia seriously.

“Just because somebody is female or black or brown, if they’ve got nasty ideas, they’re still nasty people,” she said. I heard enough over the weeks we spent filming together to know who she meant. Clue? We saw a lot of them during the leadership election, and are seeing plenty of them on the front bench now.