The bad morale of the Russian troops could end up being one of the decisive factors in this war (Topic in yesterday’s newsletter). On Thursday night, the “New York Times” published impressive research that shows, among other things, how disillusioned many Russian soldiers were in the first days of the war (source here).
The newspaper’s reporters had access to thousands of phone calls between Russian soldiers and their relatives back home that had been intercepted by the Ukrainian secret service. In some cases, the newspaper was able to identify individual soldiers, as well as the place from which they called. Most of the phone calls came from the suburbs of Kyiv.
There is talk of miserable planning, of surprisingly fierce resistance from the Ukrainians, of hundreds of dead and almost completely wiped out elite units, of the absence of the Nazis, who should actually be fought, of a lack of equipment, food and medicine. Domestic propaganda is also denounced, which portrays the campaign as a walk in the park – the truth is that the situation on the ground is hell.
The soldiers also tell their wives, mothers and fathers how they tortured and murdered civilians. How corpses pile up in the streets that nobody clears away. How they plundered houses. “Do you want a Samsung TV or an LG?” one of the soldiers asks his wife.
“Putin is a fool,” says one of them in conversation. “He wants us to conquer Kyiv, but we have no chance at all.”
The most important news of the day at a glance:
- Signing ceremony with Putin: The annexation of the four Ukrainian regions is scheduled for Friday in Moscow. There will also be a public appearance by Putin on Red Square (photo above). The area of the annexed territories (Kherson, Zaporizhia, Luhansk, Donetsk) corresponds to that of Portugal and accounts for 15 percent of the Ukrainian national territory. More here.
- In order to move soldiers and military equipment to Ukraine, Russia is withdrawing units from the Nordic-Baltic region, i.e. the NATO border. Military experts are watching the events with suspicion. Read more here.
- Damage to Nord Stream lines: Security officials apparently watched Russian ships just before the explosions. More here.
- According to initial calculations, the gas leaks from the Baltic Sea pipelines could emit as much methane as two and a half coal-fired power plants in one year. Environmentalists are pushing for a solution. More here.
- From midnight on Friday night, Finland will no longer let Russian tourists into the country. This could halve the number of people arriving from Russia. More here.
- 14 percent above the previous year’s value: In view of the autumnal weather conditions, more gas was used than hoped last week. The Federal Network Agency calls for “considerable savings”. More here.
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed concern over Russia’s preparations to annex parts of Ukraine. Any further move related to the annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions would be “a dangerous escalation” and jeopardize prospects for peace in the region, Guterres said. More on our live blog.
- Latvia decides on language reform in the school system: No more Russian: In Latvia, Latvian is to gradually become the sole language of instruction in kindergartens and elementary schools by 2025. Riga parliament on Thursday voted in favor of amendments to the education law proposed by the centre-right government. Accordingly, in the Baltic EU and NATO country with a large Russian minority, the transition should take place from the coming school year.
- According to a survey, almost every second Russian reacted with fear and shock to the partial mobilization ordered by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. A total of 47 percent of those surveyed described their emotional state after Putin’s speech a week ago as “fear, fear, horror,” according to results published by the independent polling institute Levada on Thursday. On the other hand, 23 percent stated that they were “proud of Russia”. The polls by the independent Levada Institute are also valued by Western experts – as comparatively authentic and implemented according to recognized social science principles.
- The National Security Council is meeting in Ukraine this Friday with a view to the planned Russian annexation of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urgently convenes a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine tomorrow,” Presidential Spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov said on Facebook on Thursday.Pope Francis has said he has helped with efforts to exchange prisoners in Ukraine. The head of the Catholic Church spoke of this at a meeting with Jesuits in Kazakhstan the week before last, the text of which has now been published in the Jesuit magazine “La Civiltà Cattolica”. Francis did not specifically state when he had helped and whether his mission was ultimately successful.
- According to British estimates, the flight of tens of thousands of Russian men because of the partial mobilization has led to an enormous intellectual bloodletting for Russia. “Among those trying to leave Russia, the better-off and well-educated are over-represented,” the Defense Ministry said in London on Thursday, citing intelligence findings.
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