What next?

By presidential decree, information on losses incurred by the Russian army in “special operations” in peacetime is now a state secret. Previously, only wartime losses were so classified. The point of the secrecy regime expansion seems to be preventing leaks from the military to the general public. What’s unclear is whether the Kremlin is concerned about past or future losses. Technically, it has denied that any “special operation” is being conducted in Ukraine. (To the point of repudiating its servicemen as mercenaries?)  Perhaps Moscow plans to admit it after all, or is preparing for a next stage, this time an open invasion.

John Schindler, the Atlantic Council and Gen. Bridlove agree that Russia is getting ready for a military offensive in the East of Ukraine. Watching independent media outlets and statements by top officials in Russia, I feel that at least some senior people in the Kremlin realize that Russia’s economy and influence in the world are both on an inexorably downhill trajectory, that it’s a losing war, that the supposedly toothless sanctions are and… Some want a truce and a new deal; others may want to double down. If the latter have their way, a hybrid offensive would be best matched by a hybrid response. The regime’s principal weakness on the Ukrainian front is that, despite all the propaganda, very few people in Russia truly want a war with Ukraine.

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