The Russian army’s continuing to have a rough time, even if Vladimir Putin’s engaging in acts of theater in addition to his acts of war. Word recently came down that more Russians fled his draft than were actually drafted after his partial mobilization announcement. Meanwhile, Ukraine has been making stunning advances, both by pushing Russian troops out of an Eastern stronghold and making more bold moves in Southern regions. Two of Putin’s most powerful allies are now dragging him in a very public way, and mid-week, Ukraine is making even more advances (according to NBC News) while retaking land that Putin claims to have annexed.
However, Putin went ahead and signed his formal decree declaring those four “annexed” Ukrainian regions to be part of Russia. It’s a completely symbolic move that doesn’t look symbolic in a good way, given that Russia’s already being pushed out of parts of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia, but he’s doing this anyway, and Russian state news is pulling a Baghdad Bob:
Residents of the annexed regions will immediately be recognized as citizens of Russia, state news agency Tass said Wednesday, while the transition period for the annexation will last until 2026.
Kyiv and its Western allies have decried the process as a “sham,” while it remains unclear exactly where the borders for this newly claimed land will be established.
Ukraine’s ongoing advances hung over that question.
CNBC elaborations on the “significant gains” being made by Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations. In effect, “dozens” of villages across the four “annexed” regions have been liberated despite Russia’s previous claims:
Moscow’s hold on “annexed” territories (Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk) looks increasingly tenuous, with none of the regions fully occupied by Russian forces, and as Ukraine’s counteroffensives in the east and south maintain their momentum.
Putin clearly isn’t here for anyone telling him that he’s not winning in Russia. Hopefully, he doesn’t whip out a nuke to make his point, especially after Russia doesn’t even have enough resources to actually treat its own soldiers’ bullet wounds and is telling them to use tampons instead. (Not good) priorities.