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Russia’s Ukraine invasion won’t be over soon

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As Russia’s war in Ukraine becomes a quagmire of attrition, Western leaders are slowly coming to two realisations about Vladimir Putin’s intentions.

First, Russia’s war against Ukraine won’t be over soon, and is likely to grind on for the foreseeable future.

Second, it’s pointless to try to imagine a future in which relations with Moscow are characterised by anything other by mutual mistrust and hostility.

In spite of this, there is still the chance that Russia’s invasion falls off the international radar through a Western inability to deal with hard realities.

Putin’s war of expansion

In an interview with a German newspaper, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg estimated the war could take years, rather than months.

Patrick Sanders, the incoming chief of the British Army, has claimed the UK’s armed forces need to be oriented around fighting a ground war with Russia.

And after an awkwardly frosty hug with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, even French President Emmanuel Macron, whose calls to Putin have annoyed Kyiv and who previously warned Putin must not be humiliated, has voiced his unequivocal support for Ukraine.

These epiphanies are long overdue. There’s no point in dreaming up elaborate diplomatic “off ramps” for Putin when it’s abundantly clear he sees no need for them.

Doing so also denies Ukraine agency in determining how the war ends, and presupposes a post-conflict European security order can meet both Russian and Western requirements. As witnessed prior to Russia’s invasion on February 24, the Kremlin isn’t content with anything short of regaining something close to the geo-strategic footprint of the USSR.

Obsessed with territorial aggrandisement, and having cynically cultivated a fetish for militarism in Russian society, Vladimir Putin recently admitted as much when he compared himself to Peter the Great, noting “now it’s our turn to get our lands back”.

At the very least, Putin’s words should put to bed the vastly overstated claim that the enlargement of Western security structures somehow forced Putin to invade Ukraine. This is clearly a war of Russian expansion, not NATO expansion.

Yet some Western security policymakers and commentators remain incapable of letting go of victor’s guilt over how the fledgling Russian state was treated following the USSR’s collapse.

While such sentiments are to an extent defensible, the West’s strategic failings nonetheless pale in comparison to Putin’s long history of internal repression, political warfare against external foes, nuclear threats, and brutality against those whose continued independence irk him.

Putin waiting the West out

Another reason the West should avoid the temptation of hand-wringing is because now is the most dangerous time in Ukraine’s efforts to repel the Russian invasion.

By its own estimation, Ukraine’s forces are outgunned ten-to-one by Russian artillery in the Donbas region. However, Ukraine has no option but to keep fighting, both for national survival and because suing for peace now – given what we know about the barbarism inflicted on Ukrainians by Russian invaders – would mean a swift end for Zelenskyy’s government.

Having initially failed to capture Kyiv in a poorly conceived and executed dash for the capital, Russian forces have adopted their typical approach to offensive operations – massive unguided fires in both urban and rural environments. That curtain of bombardment allows its military to advance, albeit painfully slowly.

This suits Putin just fine, at least for the moment. He has no incentive to go to the negotiating table since the limited territory he has seized from Ukraine so far cannot be spun as a great victory either at home or abroad.

His military calculus is simple: to continue capturing territory and destroy as much of Ukraine’s infrastructure as possible.

It also dovetails with his strategic calculus, which is to simply wait the West out. Previously – in Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea – he has correctly anticipated that Western tolerance for protracted confrontation is low, and it can be counted on to de-escalate.

Will the invasion fall off the radar?

Yet although Western elites are gloomily coming to the understanding Putin cannot somehow be managed, there remains a significant danger the conflict falls off the international radar, or that Western leaders waver as the conflict drags on.

We can already see some of this happening: in the tendency of the Western media to grasp at straws over Putin’s reputed ill-health, and in Germany’s egregious vacillation over allowing heavy weapons destined for Ukraine to transit its territory.

For his part, Zelenskyy is acutely aware of this. It’s why he has maintained the pressure on European nations to match words with deeds.

It’s also why he now expects something in return for the popularity sugar hit European leaders get from photo opportunities after taking the increasingly well-worn path to Kyiv to meet him.

3 reasons to meet Ukraine’s military requests

Meeting Ukraine’s requests for heavy weapons and ammunition is in the interests of NATO members for three reasons.

  1. It’s critical to show Putin that escalation comes with real costs: something Western leaders have shied away from for decades.
  2. It’s increasingly likely neither Ukraine nor Russia will be happy with any eventual settlement to the war, and a “frozen” conflict leaves Russia the chance to try again in future. Ukraine’s armed forces have performed far above expectations in denying the Kremlin the chance to “win”, at least in terms of its original ambitions. But although Kyiv’s desire to recapture all its lost territory – including Crimea – is unsurprising, there’s no realistic prospect of that without military assistance far beyond its requests.
  3. A third reason for the West to meet Ukrainian hardware needs concerns the credibility of NATO’s and the EU’s assertions they protect international order and shared values. No matter how the war ends, a profoundly damaged Ukraine will take decades to rebuild.

And while it’s currently fashionable for Western leaders to proclaim how much they are doing to help, the reality is they’re safely watching Ukraine fight a major power.

With that track record, it would be completely understandable for those in other nations that might need Western security assistance in future to have little confidence in obtaining much more beyond noble sentiments, and bare minimum support.

Matthew Sussex, Fellow, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO will boost the number of troops on high alert by more than sevenfold to over 300,000, its secretary-general said on Monday, as allies prepared to adopt a new strategy describing Moscow as a direct threat four months into the Ukraine war.

Russia's February invasion of Ukraine has sparked a major geopolitical shift in the West, prompting once neutral countries Finland and Sweden to apply to join NATO and Ukraine to secure the status of candidate to join the European Union.

"Russia has walked away from the partnership and the dialogue that NATO has tried to establish with Russia for many years," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels ahead of a NATO summit later this week in Madrid.

"They have chosen confrontation instead of dialogue. We regret that - but of course, then we need to respond to that reality," he told reporters.

The June 28-30 NATO summit comes at a pivotal moment for the alliance after failures in Afghanistan and internal discord during the era of former U.S. President Donald Trump, who threatened to pull Washington out of the alliance.

Stoltenberg said NATO in future would have "well over 300,000" troops on high alert, compared to 40,000 troops that currently make up the alliance's existing quick reaction force, the NATO Response Force (NRF).

The new force model is meant to replace the NRF and "provide a larger pool of high readiness forces across domains, land, sea, air and cyber, which will be pre-assigned to specific plans for the defence of allies," a NATO official said.

Stoltenberg said NATO combat units on the alliance's eastern flank nearest Russia, especially the Baltic states, are to be boosted to brigade level, with thousands of pre-assigned troops on standby in countries further west like Germany as rapid reinforcements.

"Together, this constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War," he said.

The NATO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the moves would enable NATO to respond with more forces at short notice should the need arise.

The official added that the precise scale and composition of the force was still being worked on and that the transition was planned for completion in 2023.

At the summit, NATO will also change its language on Russia from the current wording, enshrined at its Lisbon summit in 2010, describing Moscow as a strategic partner.

"I expect the allies will state clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to our security, to our values, to the rules-based international order," Stoltenberg said.

At the same time, Stoltenberg dampened hopes for a break-through at the summit to overcome Turkey's opposition to the membership bids of Sweden and Finland.

"I will not make any promises or speculate about any specific time lines. The summit has never been a deadline," said Stoltenberg, who is scheduled to meet the leaders of all three countries in Madrid on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Marine Strauss, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has officially added Ruja Ignatova, also known as the "Cryptoqueen," to its ten most-wanted list.

The FBI said in a press release Thursday it is offering a reward of as much as $100,000 for information leading to Ignatova's arrest.

Ignatova founded OneCoin, an alleged $4 billion cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme, in 2014.

Ignatova traveled the world and attended conferences touting OneCoin as a "Bitcoin killer," but investigators found that in reality OneCoin did not have any blockchain technology behind it.

The US issued a federal warrant for Ignatova's arrest in 2017.

Ignatova vanished that same year. According to the FBI's press release Ignatova travelled from Sofia, Bulgaria to Athens, Greece in October 2017.

It gave no further information on sightings of her since then, but gave the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece and Eastern Europe as places she might travel to.

The FBI said on Ignatova's wanted page that she is "believed to travel with armed guards and/or associates." It added she may have had cosmetic surgery to alter her appearance.

In March 2019 Ignatova's brother Konstantin, who had taken over OneCoin in her absence, was arrested. Konstantin Ignatova plead guilty to charges including money laundering and fraud in November 2019.

Ignatova was previously added to a Europol list of Europe's most wanted people in May 2022.

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Allison Guy was having a great start to 2021. Her health was the best it had ever been. She loved her job and the people she worked with as a communications manager for a conservation nonprofit. She could get up early in the mornings to work on creative projects. Things were looking “really, really good,” she says—until she got Covid-19.

While the initial infection was not fun, what followed was worse. Four weeks later, when Guy had recovered enough to go back to work full-time, she woke up one day with an overwhelming fatigue that just never went away. It was accompanied by a loss of mental sharpness, part of a suite of sometimes hard-to-pin-down symptoms that are often referred to as Covid-19 “brain fog,” a general term for sluggish or fuzzy thinking. “I spent most of 2021 making decisions like: Is this the day where I get a shower, or I go up and microwave myself a frozen dinner?” Guy recalls. The high-level writing required for her job was out of the question. Living with those symptoms was, in her words, “hell on earth.”

Many of these hard-to-define Covid-19 symptoms can persist over time—weeks, months, years. Now, new research in the journal Cell is shedding some light on the biological mechanisms of how Covid-19 affects the brain. Led by researchers Michelle Monje and Akiko Iwasaki, of Stanford and Yale Universities respectively, scientists determined that in mice with mild Covid-19 infections, the virus disrupted the normal activity of several brain cell populations and left behind signs of inflammation. They believe that these findings may help explain some of the cognitive disruption experienced by Covid-19 survivors and provide potential pathways for therapies.

For the past 20 years, Monje, a neuro-oncologist, had been trying to understand the neurobiology behind chemotherapy-induced cognitive symptoms—similarly known as “chemo fog.” When Covid-19 emerged as a major immune-activating virus, she worried about the potential for similar disruption. “Very quickly, as reports of cognitive impairment started to come out, it was clear that it was a very similar syndrome,” she says. “The same symptoms of impaired attention, memory, speed of information processing, dis-executive function—it really clinically looks just like the ‘chemo fog’ that people experienced and that we’d been studying.”

In September 2020, Monje reached out to Iwasaki, an immunologist. Her group had already established a mouse model of Covid-19, thanks to their Biosafety Level 3 clearance to work with the virus. A mouse model is engineered as a close stand-in for a human, and this experiment was meant to mimic the experience of a person with a mild Covid-19 infection. Using a viral vector, Iwasaki’s group introduced the human ACE2 receptor into cells in the trachea and lungs of the mice. This receptor is the point of entry for the Covid-causing virus, allowing it to bind to the cell. Then they shot a bit of virus up the mice’s noses to cause infection, controlling the amount and delivery so that the virus was limited to the respiratory system. For the mice, this infection cleared up within one week, and they did not lose weight.

Coupled with biosafety regulations and the challenges of cross-country collaboration, the security precautions required by the pandemic created some interesting work constraints. Because most virus-related work had to be done in Iwasaki’s laboratory, the Yale scientists would take advantage of overnight shipping to fly samples across the country to Monje’s Stanford laboratory where they could be analyzed. Sometimes, they would need to film experiments with a GoPro camera to make sure that everybody could see the same thing. “We made it work,” Monje says.

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A Russian-speaking LGBTQ+ group is looking to provide resources and support for refugees and asylum seekers in New York City.

Violette Matevosian is the development coordinator for RUSA LGBTQ. Matevosian left Russia in 2020 and sought asylum in the U.S. and founded the inclusive network in New York.

"We are a community of immigrants. We are a community of refugees and asylum seekers, and we have to support the other people like the Ukrainians because they are the most vulnerable right now," says Matevosian.

RUSA organizes events and concerts to raise awareness for the Russian-speaking LGBTQ+ community like the Pride Parade in Brighton Beach in May.

They also offer free legal support and housing to help those seeking refuge.

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Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis criticized Russia’s war in Ukraine, calling it “immoral” and “operationally stupid,” while speaking Friday at the Seoul Forum 2022.

“We have a saying in America, we say that nations with allies thrive, nations without allies wither and we’re watching Russia wither before our eyes right now,” Mattis said.

When asked what military lessons could be taken from the war so far, the former US Marine said: “One is don’t have incompetent generals in charge of your operations.”

He also called Russia’s military performance “pathetic” and decried “the immoral, the tactically incompetent, operationally stupid and strategically foolish effort” of its campaign in Ukraine.

Mattis spoke of previous US efforts to try and bring Russia into the “community of nations,” but said that was not possible with Vladimir Putin as leader.

“The tragedy of our time is that Putin is a creature straight out of Dostoevsky. He goes to bed every night angry, he goes to bed every night fearful, he goes to bed every night thinking that Russia is surrounded by nightmares and this has guided him,” he said.

Putin had removed anyone from his circle that would disagree with him, so he “probably thought that the Ukrainian people were going to welcome him,” Mattis added.

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  • On 30 June 2022, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that its forces had withdrawn from Snake Island in the north-west Black Sea. The island was seized by Russia on the first day of the invasion and sits along the main shipping lanes to Odesa and its adjacent ports.
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces conducted attacks against the Russian garrison in the past few weeks using missile and drone strikes. In addition, it used anti-ship missiles to interdict Russian naval vessels attempting re-supply the island.
  • Russia has highly likely withdrawn from Snake Island owing to the isolation of the garrison and its increasing vulnerability to Ukrainian strikes, rather than as a ‘gesture of good will’, as it has claimed.
  • Separately, Russian ground forces claim to have captured the village of Pryvilla, north-west of the contested Donbas town of Lyschansk. Intense fighting probably continues for the commanding high ground around Lyschansk Oil Refinery.

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  • On 30 June 2022, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that its forces had withdrawn from Snake Island in the north-west Black Sea. The island was seized by Russia on the first day of the invasion and sits along the main shipping lanes to Odesa and its adjacent ports.
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces conducted attacks against the Russian garrison in the past few weeks using missile and drone strikes. In addition, it used anti-ship missiles to interdict Russian naval vessels attempting re-supply the island.
  • Russia has highly likely withdrawn from Snake Island owing to the isolation of the garrison and its increasing vulnerability to Ukrainian strikes, rather than as a ‘gesture of good will’, as it has claimed.
  • Separately, Russian ground forces claim to have captured the village of Pryvilla, north-west of the contested Donbas town of Lyschansk. Intense fighting probably continues for the commanding high ground around Lyschansk Oil Refinery.

Found a spelling error? Let us know – highlight it and press Ctrl + Enter.

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At minimum 17 individuals ended up killed and dozens wounded Friday in missile strikes on Ukraine’s Odesa area, a day soon after Russian troops abandoned positions on a strategic island in a key setback to the Kremlin’s invasion.

The news came just after NATO leaders wrapped up a summit in Madrid, with US President Joe Biden saying $800 million in new weapons for Ukraine.

“We are going to stick with Ukraine, and all of the alliance are likely to adhere with Ukraine, as extended as it normally takes to make sure they are not defeated by Russia,” he said.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as opposed surging diplomatic tensions to the Cold War, telling reporters: “As far as an Iron Curtain is worried, basically it is presently descending… The method has begun.”

There was a glimmer of hope even so, when Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who visited Moscow on Thursday immediately after a journey to Kyiv, explained he had offered Russian President Vladimir Putin a concept from their Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Neither aspect has disclosed what was in the observe.

Hrs following the summit finished, missiles had been fired at an condominium creating and recreation centre in the southern region of Odesa, a strategic flashpoint that is property to Ukraine’s historic port city of the exact same identify.

The nine-storey apartment making was partly wrecked, leaving 14 individuals lifeless and 30 wounded, such as numerous children, the unexpected emergency products and services explained.

3 persons, like a youngster, have been killed and a person wounded in the attack on the recreation centre, they stated.

The strikes, in the Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky district, had been launched by aircraft that flew in from the Black Sea, stated Odessa armed service administration spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk.

“The worst circumstance circumstance performed out and two strategic aircraft came to the Odessa area,” he explained in a Tv set interview, incorporating they experienced fired “very weighty and very powerful” missiles.

Bratchuk urged people today not to put up on the net details about the rescue procedure.

– ‘Goodwill gesture’ –

The early Friday strikes arrived a day after Russian troops abandoned their positions on Snake Island, off the coastline of Odessa.

The island experienced grow to be a image of Ukrainian resistance in the very first times of the war, when the rocky outcrop’s defenders told a Russian warship to “go f*ck yourself” soon after it referred to as on them to surrender — an incident that spurred a defiant meme.

It was also a strategic focus on, sitting apart shipping and delivery lanes around the port of Odessa. Russia experienced attempted to put in missile and air defence batteries when under fireplace from drones.

The final decision to abandon Snake Island “changes the problem in the Black Sea noticeably,” Zelensky mentioned in his each day address Thursday.

“It does not yet assure stability. It does not but warranty that the enemy will not return. But it currently considerably limits the actions of the occupiers.”

British Key Minister Boris Johnson cited Snake Island as he warned the Russian president that any eventual peace offer would be on Ukraine’s terms.

“We’ve found what Ukraine can do to push the Russians again. We have viewed what they did close to Kyiv and Kharkiv, now on Snake Island,” Johnson said.

The Russian defence ministry statement described the retreat as “a gesture of goodwill” meant to exhibit that Moscow will not interfere with UN efforts to organise guarded grain exports from Ukraine.

But Ukraine officials claimed it as a acquire.

“They generally downplay their defeats this way,” Ukraine’s Overseas Minister Dmytro Kuleba reported on Twitter.

In peacetime, Ukraine is a major agricultural exporter, but Russia’s invasion has broken farmland and witnessed Ukraine’s ports seized, razed or blockaded — threatening grain importers in Africa with famine.

Western powers have accused Putin of using the trapped harvest as a weapon to boost force on the intercontinental neighborhood, and Russia has been accused of stealing grain.

– ‘Direct threat’ –

On Thursday, a ship carrying 7,000 tonnes of grain sailed from Ukraine’s occupied port of Berdyansk, said the regional chief appointed by the Russian profession forces.

Evgeny Balitsky, the head of the professional-Moscow administration, reported Russia’s Black Sea ships “are making certain the security” of the journey, introducing that the port had been de-mined.

Individually, the Russian defence ministry stated its forces are keeping extra than 6,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war who have been captured since the February 24 invasion.

The conflict in Ukraine dominated the NATO summit in Madrid this week, as the alliance officially invited Sweden and Finland to be a part of, and Biden announced new deployments of US troops, ships and planes to Europe.

Russian missiles continued to rain down in other places in Ukraine and a United Nations official explained Thursday that 16 million persons in Ukraine have been in will need of humanitarian assist.

In the southern town of Mykolaiv, rescuers located the bodies of seven civilians in the rubble of a destroyed setting up, unexpected emergency providers reported.

The city of Lysychansk in the jap Donbas region — the latest aim of Russia’s offensive — is also facing sustained bombardment.

The problem in Lysychansk — the last key town the Russians will need to just take in excess of in the Lugansk area — was “extremely difficult” with relentless shelling creating it impossible to evacuate civilians, regional governor Serhii Haidai claimed.

“There is a whole lot of shelling… The Russian army is approaching from distinct instructions,” he said in a video clip posted on Telegram.

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The child killed at the holiday resort was a 12-year-old boy, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelensky's office. He added that three people, including two children, were still under the rubble.

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SLOVIANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces withdrew from a strategic Black Sea island Thursday, potentially easing the threat to the vital Ukrainian port city of Odesa, but kept up their push to encircle the last stronghold of resistance in the eastern province of Luhansk.

The Kremlin portrayed the pullout from Snake Island as a “goodwill gesture.” But Ukraine’s military claimed it forced the Russians to flee in two small speedboats following a barrage of Ukrainian artillery and missile strikes. The exact number of troops was not disclosed.

“Unable to withstand the impact of our artillery, missile and aviation units, the Russian occupiers have left Snake Island. The Odesa region is completely liberated,” the Ukrainian military said in its regular social media update Thursday evening.

A senior Ukrainian military official, Oleksiy Gromov, earlier said Kyiv was planning to deploy troops to Snake Island, but did not specify a timeline.

“At the moment, we control (the island) with the help of our weapons: long-range artillery, rocket units and aviation,” Gromov said.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the withdrawal was intended to demonstrate that Moscow isn't hampering U.N. efforts to establish a humanitarian corridor for exporting agricultural products from Ukraine.

Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of blockading Ukrainian ports to prevent exports of grain, contributing to a global food crisis. Russia has denied that and said Ukraine needs to remove mines from the Black Sea to allow safe navigation.

Turkey has sought to broker a deal to unblock grain exports. But the talks have dragged on, with Kyiv expressing fear that Russia will exploit the removal of the mines to attack Odesa.

Snake Island sits along a busy shipping lane. Russia took control of it in the opening days of the war in the apparent hope of using it as a staging ground for an assault on Odesa.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that although the pullout did not guarantee the Black Sea region’s safety, it would “significantly limit” Russian activities there.

“Step by step, we will push (Russia) out of our sea, our land, our sky,” he said in his nightly address.

It was unclear if the evacuation of Snake Island meant a change in Moscow's designs on Ukraine's biggest port, which is crucial for shipping grain to Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world. It's also the headquarters of the country's navy.

The island — shrouded in myth since ancient times — early on took on legendary significance for Ukraine's resistance to the Russian invasion, when Ukrainian troops there reportedly received a demand from a Russian warship to surrender or be bombed. The answer supposedly came back, "Go (expletive) yourself.”

Ukraine has celebrated the story with patriotic fervor, issuing a postage stamp in commemoration.

The island's Ukrainian defenders were captured by the Russians but later freed as part of a prisoner exchange. After the island was taken, the Ukrainian military heavily bombarded the small Russian garrison there and its air defenses.

At a NATO summit in Madrid, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson billed the Russian pullout as a sign that Ukraine will prevail in the war launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin. "In the end it will prove impossible for Putin to hold down a country that will not accept” occupation, Johnson said.

Meanwhile, Moscow kept up its push to take control of the entire Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. It is focused on the city of Lysychansk, the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk province.

Russian troops and their separatist allies control 95% of Luhansk and about half of Donetsk, the two provinces that make up the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas.

Ukraine said the Russians were shelling Lysychansk and clashing with Ukrainian defenders around an oil refinery on its edges.

The Ukrainian military said Thursday evening that Russia had seen “partial success” that day around the plant, some 17 kilometers south-west of the city. They made no reference to claims that attacking forces had been able to cross the strategic Siverskiy Donets river and enter the city from the north.

Zelenskyy said in his nightly address that the situation in the Donbas remained “the toughest and extremely difficult.”

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Russian reconnaissance units trying to enter Lysychansk on Wednesday were repelled. He said the Russians were trying to block a highway used to deliver supplies, and fully encircle the city.

“The Russians have thrown practically all their forces to seize the city,” Haidai said, but denied that Lysychansk had been encircled.

Nevertheless, Haidai noted that as of Thursday evening, evacuations from the city were impossible due to heavy shelling and mined access roads. Earlier, the Ukrainian military said it was not planning a retreat from Lysychansk.

A representative of Russia-backed separatists in Luhansk claimed that pro-Russian forces entered Lysychansk Thursday, after a perilous river crossing — which, if true, would be a significant development.

Military analysts previously told the AP that Russian forces had little chance of crossing the river without major losses due to the defenders' elevated positions.

It was impossible to immediately verify the accuracy of the statements by Andrey Marochko, who heads the armed forces of the self-proclaimed, unrecognized separatist territory, to Russia's Interfax agency. There was no official confirmation from Moscow or Kyiv.

In other developments:

—Ukraine's president hailed the launch Thursday of Ukrainian electricity exports to E.U. member state Romania, which Zelenskyy called “only the first stage” of a process that may see “a significant part” of the Russian gas consumed by Europeans replaced by Ukrainian energy.

—- U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration will send an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including rockets and advanced air defense systems. In his nightly address, Zelenskyy thanked Biden for the move, saying that the equipment soon "will go to the frontline to work for Ukraine, to defend freedom.”

— Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who held talks with Putin on Thursday a day after visiting Ukraine, said he handed the Russian leader a letter from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He did not elaborate.

— A senior Russian official warned that Moscow could consider Western sanctions as a cause for war. “Under certain circumstances, such hostile measures could be perceived ... even as a casus belli,” Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said in a speech at a legal forum.

— Speaking on a visit to Turkmenistan on Thursday, Putin said his goals in Ukraine haven't changed since the start of the war. He said they were “the liberation of the Donbas, the protection of these people and the creation of conditions that would guarantee the security of Russia itself.” He made no mention of his original stated goals to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine. “As you can see, the troops are moving and reaching the marks that were set for them for a certain stage of this combat work. Everything is going according to plan,” Putin said.

— Funerals were scheduled Thursday for some of the 18 people confirmed killed in a Russian airstrike Monday on a busy shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk. Crews searched the rubble for 20 still missing.

— Sweden announced plans to send more military aid to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons and mine-clearing equipment. Sweden was invited this week to join NATO, a process that could take months.

— Iranian state media said Thursday Iran has proposed expanding financial exchanges with Russia and cooperating in the energy field. Both countries are under heavy Western sanctions. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Putin met on the sidelines of a summit in Turkmenistan.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Published: 16:49 BST, 30 June 2022 | Updated: 16:56 BST, 30 June 2022

Ukraine has released chilling new footage showing people inside a shopping centre as it was struck by a Russian missile on Monday, after the Kremlin insisted the complex was 'non-functioning'.

The newly released footage was captured by CCTV cameras in and around the Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, and shows people running and diving for cover as the rocket slammed into the building.

Two cameras inside the same shop captured the moment the missile struck, sending goods flying off the shelves and the shopkeeper running for cover.

Two more cameras on the exterior of the complex showed debris landing on the ground outside the mall. Another exterior camera showed smoke rising from the building as it was hit, and two passers-by narrowly avoiding flying debris.

Another camera, looking out over a parking bay, captured the rocket a split second before it flew into the building - causing a huge blast.

The new footage - released by Ukraine's security service - debunks the claim from Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for Russia’s defence ministry, who said the mall was 'non-functioning'.

At least 18 people were killed in the strike with another 21 still missing as-of Wednesday, with rescuers warning they are unlikely to have survived an inferno which gutted the mall and caused the roof to collapse.

Identifying victims is proving difficult, with some bodies burned beyond recognition.

Pictured: The Russian missile is seen a split-second before striking the Ukrainian shopping mall on Monday. At least 18 people were killed in the strike

Pictured: An explosion is seen after the missile struck the Amstor mall in Kremenchuk

Other footage from the complex released this week showed what appeared to be a guided AS-4 Kitchen missile - originally designed to take out US aircraft carriers - slamming into the shopping centre shortly before 4pm local time Monday. 

More footage taken from cameras in a nearby park showed the moment a second missile struck the Kredmash factory, which sits behind the mall, destroying four warehouses and raining debris down on passersby.

Ukraine accuses Russia of hitting the centre on Monday in Kremenchuk, found 205 miles southeast of Kyiv, in what is being talked about as a war crime.

Russia denies the accusation and previously claimed its missile salvo was aimed at an arms depot and the centre was not in operation at the time.

Funerals were set to be held on Thursday for some of the 18 people confirmed killed by Monday's Russian missile strike. 

Two cameras (footage shown bottom row) inside the same shop captured the moment the missile struck, sending goods flying off the shelves and a shopkeeper running for cover

Pictured bottom row: A shopkeeper is shown running for cover as the shopping centre is hit by a Russian missile on Monday

Pictured: CCTV footage shows smoke rising on Monday after the shopping centre was struck by a Russian missile. Debris was launched into the air and passers-by were lucky not to be hit

After the attack on the shopping centre, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of becoming a 'terrorist' state. On Wednesday, he reproached NATO for not embracing or equipping his embattled country more fully.

'The open-door policy of NATO shouldn't resemble old turnstiles on Kyiv's subway, which stay open but close when you approach them until you pay,' Mr Zelensky told NATO leaders meeting in Madrid, speaking by video link.

'Hasn't Ukraine paid enough? Hasn't our contribution to defending Europe and the entire civilisation been sufficient?'

He asked for more modern artillery systems and other weapons and warned the NATO leaders they either had to provide Ukraine with the help it needed to defeat Russia or 'face a delayed war between Russia and yourself.'  

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Moscow's forces were responsible for a strike on the crowded shopping centre.

'Our army does not attack any civilian infrastructure site. We have every capability of knowing what is situated where,' Putin told a news conference in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat.

'Nobody among us shoots just like that, randomly. It is normally done based on intelligence data on targets' and with 'high-precision weapons'.

'I am convinced that this time, everything was done in this exact manner,' Putin said.

Since Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine, Moscow has insisted it has not targeted civilians, despite vast amounts of evidence on the contrary.

Russian forces have bombed civilian sites indiscriminately, and there have been several instances where Ukrainians have been shot, tortured and raped.

War crime investigation into Russia's military actions are on-going. 

Onlookers gather as the shopping centre is engulfed by flames shortly after it was struck by two Russian guided missiles on Monday, while an estimated 1,000 people were inside 

Smoke rises from the ruins of the Amstor shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, after it was struck by long-range guided missiles that Ukraine says were fired by Russian bombers

On Tuesday, the Russian military first claimed it struck a weapons depot in central Ukraine the previous day and the resulting explosions hit a closed shopping mall.

The strike hit 'a depot with weapons and ammunition from the USA and European countries in the vicinity of the Kremenchuk automobile factory', the Russian military said in a statement.

'The explosions of ammunition for Western weapons sparked a fire in the nearby shopping mall, which was not operational at the time.'

The Kremlin backed the Russian military's statement, saying the defence ministry's explanations were 'exhaustive.'

'I have nothing to add,' said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Russia's defence ministry admitted being behind the attacks - despite one politician initially blaming Ukraine for bombing its own people - saying the factory was being used as a store for western weapons which were due to be transported to Donbas. 

It denied striking the mall, and said the second missile actually hit a train station.

But Ukraine says Russia deliberately targeted the mall in a 'terrorist attack' designed to sow fear among civilians, and that there were no arms being stored at the factory - which manufactures parts for civilian vehicles, among other things. 

Footage from the complex tallies more closely with Kyiv's account than Russia's. 

Footage reveals the bomb was likely a Russian AS-4 'Kitchen' guided missile - a Soviet-era weapon that was originally designed to take out American aircraft carriers

The footage directly contradicts Kremlin claims that it destroyed a nearby factory being used to store weapons and a train station, and that the mall accidentally burned down after flames from those strikes spread

This is the moment a Russian missile slammed into a factory in the city of Kremechuk, central Ukraine, after another rocket blew apart a nearby shopping mall and killed at least 18 civilians

CCTV captures panicked locals running for cover as smoke rises from the first blast (top right, behind the trees) before a second missile hits (top left) - sparking a huge fireball and shockwave

Mykhailo Podolyak, one of President Zelensky's top advisers who posted some of the footage online, wrote: 'Russian propaganda always lies: There is no coincidence, [the strike] was a deliberate blow to intimidate the population and cause mass casualties.'

On Wednesday, Pope Francis called the bombing of the crowded shopping centre the latest in string of 'barbarous attacks' against Ukraine.

'Every day, I carry in my heart dear and martyred Ukraine, which continues to be flagellated by barbarous attacks like the one that hit the shopping centre in Kremenchuk,' Francis told crowds in St. Peter's Square on the feast of St. Peter and Paul.

'I pray that this mad war can soon end and I renew my appeal to persevere without tiring in praying for peace.

'May the Lord open the those paths to dialogue which men either do not want or not able to find. May they not neglect to help the Ukrainian population, which is suffering so much,' he said.

Konnikova-Politics-Personalities.jpg

You’ve seen the headlines. You’ve maybe even quoted them, especially now that it’s election season. “Conservatives More Susceptible to Bullshit Than Liberals.” “Study: Are Liberals Smarter Than Conservatives?” “Studies: Conservatives Are from Mars, Liberals Are from Venus.” All of these tantalizing connections between personalities and politics sound academic if not downright scientific—they cite studies, after all—and, depending on your own political leanings, you’ve likely had one of two reactions: Of course, I knew it! or This is bogus! As it turns out, if you’re in the second camp you’re probably right—but maybe for a reason that’s different from what you thought.

For many political psychologists, it seems abundantly clear that traits and politics go together. There’s evidence that many aspects of personality develop quite early in life and have a genetic component, but we don’t become actively political until we are older. So it’s sensible to assume that the one might have some bearing on the other. But most of the work on the subject in the past decades has consisted merely of scientists conducting surveys and observing correlations. Few researchers have ever asked whether what they’re seeing actually implies causality or if the correlations are even meaningful. (The fact that correlation does not equal causation has been amply illustrated by a self-styled correlation debunker, Tyler Vigen; a recent visit to his eponymous Web site shows a 0.998 regional correlation between U.S. spending on science and technology and suicides by hanging, strangulation, and suffocation.) And so, almost a decade ago, Brad Verhulst, a behavioral geneticist now at Virginia Commonwealth University, asked himself just that: Is the personality-politics link truly causal? A relationship between personality and political leanings is “a completely reasonable thing to expect,” he told me when we spoke recently. He wanted to use his knowledge as a geneticist to explore the causal linkage that he was certain would be there.

He found something quite different. “Unfortunately, the empirical evidence doesn’t seem to support that strong causal hypothesis,” he said. In an analysis of 28,877 people from the Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry (known as the Virginia 30,000), and then in a second, separate longitudinal study that followed a group of more than eight thousand twins and siblings for ten years, he found no evidence of any form of causation. Instead, he found a relationship that was more complicated. It is far more likely that politics and personality traits are both influenced by some earlier genetic and environmental factors. In other words, they may indeed be related, but the fact that someone is liberal does not make him more tolerant, for instance, just as being tolerant does not make someone liberal.

In the first sample (the Virginia 30,000) Verhulst and his collaborators found that, while some modest correlations did exist between certain traits and attitudes—for example, between conservative economic views and measures of neuroticism—there was no evidence that there was anything causal to the correlations. But genetic analyses can be tricky. So Verhulst and Peter Hatemi tried a longitudinal study: follow people over time, map their personality and political leanings, and see if changes in the one cause changes in the other. They looked at two samples, one of adults (7,610 twins and siblings who were between the ages of nineteen and seventy-eight in 1980) and one of adolescents (1,061 twins and siblings who were between sixteen and nineteen in 1998). Each group had been tested in two waves, ten years apart. At both points, researchers looked at political attitudes (views on topics such as abortion and gay marriage, as well as responses to statements such as “I believe we should look to our religious authorities for decisions on moral issues”) and personality measures. They found that personality did shift over time—not by huge amounts, but perceptibly. People could become more or less extroverted, more agreeable or conscientious, or any number of things. Political attitudes were slightly more stable, among both the adolescents and the adults: people who were conservative tended to stay conservative. And, most important, changes in personality did not predict changes in politics. “We conclude that both personality traits and political attitudes are independently part of one’s psychological architecture,” the authors write.

None of this work denies the possible existence of correlations between some traits and some beliefs, but it does raise the question of what those correlations signify—especially since, setting aside the issue of causality, some early research on politics and personality may have overstated the connections because of a built-in tautology. As it turns out, in many of the early conceptions of personality traits political leanings were purposefully built into the survey questions used to assess personality. Early theorists explicitly wanted to capture political attitudes with their scales. For instance, in order to measure “openness,” Robert McCrae and Paul Costa, the creators of one of the most widely used personality measures, the NEO-PI-R, use “favors conservative values” as one of the items to assess the degree to which someone possesses a trait. In measures of agreeableness, there are items like “we can never do too much for the poor and elderly” and “human need should always take priority over economic considerations”—both statements that are embedded in a specific political ideology. In other words, our political beliefs are actually used to assess our level of the trait. By definition, we are higher on openness, say, if we are politically liberal.

That circularity, however, is often lost on modern minds. So what happens when we look for correlations between, say, openness and liberalism? We find one because it’s largely tautological. It doesn’t help that most of the scales are proprietary and, hence, not publicly available: it’s hard to find a list of items that contribute to each facet and, therefore, to see for yourself just how embedded politics already are in traits that people mainly think of as abstract concepts.

When I asked Verhulst if it was possible to circumvent this, he pointed out two things: first, not all traits are tautological (openness is the most egregious example). If you wanted to study risk-taking, for instance, you could conceivably avoid any sort of circularity. And, second, some people try to remove the political items—but with mixed results. “If you are concerned with political attitudes, you might remove items that are explicitly political,” he told me. “But just because you’ve taken those out doesn’t mean you’ve fundamentally changed what openness measures. Even if you’re removing some of the completely tautological items, you aren’t quite hitting that problem.” So in his studies Verhulst also used an entirely different scale, one that is “relatively untainted by explicitly political items,” as he and his co-authors write. The non-causal correlations he does find are in the weak 0.2–0.4 range. (A perfect correlation is 1; 0.2 is considered “negligible,” while 0.4 is “low.”)

But the desire for causality, or at least some basic truths—Of course those Republicans are closed-minded people! Of course those damn Democrats are neurotic!—persists. And despite studies like Verhulst’s, we can’t seem to let it go. Headlines keep appearing; researchers keep pointing it out. Verhulst’s 2012 paper—the analysis of the Virginia 30,000—was recently in the news because of an authorial correction. It seems that one of the minor correlational directions had been reversed: it was liberals, not conservatives, who scored slightly higher on a measure of psychoticism, which takes into account aggressiveness, antisocial tendencies, and egocentricity, among other traits. (“Science Says Liberals, Not Conservatives, Are Psychotic,” the New York Post wrote.) In the correction note, Verhulst, Hatemi, and a co-author, Lindon Eaves, stressed that the error, while regrettable and sloppy, didn’t actually affect any of the paper’s main conclusions: that there was no causality between personality and politics, and that correlations were small. Really, neither liberals nor conservatives are particularly likely to display traits of psychoticism, and, to the extent that liberals are, it’s no more related to their politics than to their shirt size. “We found no evidence that personality traits play a causal role in the formation of political attitudes,” the authors write. “Our focus and novel results showed that whatever the directions of the correlations are between personality traits and attitudes, the relationships are spurious.” And so, while it of course needed to be fixed, at the end of the day it didn’t matter all that much.

Note: The content of this page is available with proper page margins and padding at http://personality-politics.org/russia for improved readability.

March 14, 2022 — USPP releases updated threat assessment

Scroll to the bottom of this page or the http://personality-politics.org/russia page for an updated threat assessment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Political Personality of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, January 2017. Abstract and link for full-text (38 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/104/

The Personality Profile of Russian President
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin

(Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин)

Aubrey Immelman
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
March 2014

Vladimir Putin New Year's Address to the Nation (12-31-2012)

A remotely conducted empirical psychological assessment of Russian leader Vladimir Putin is currently in progress, using the third edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with DSM-IV.

Informal observation suggests that Putin is a highly dominant leader. However, more systematic observation is required to establish whether he is an introvert or an extravert.

If Putin is a dominant introvert, which appears to be the case [confirmed 7/30/2014], the following personality-based leadership profile would apply:

In terms of Lloyd Etheredge’s (1978) fourfold typology of personality-based foreign policy role orientations, which locates policymakers on the dimensions of dominance–submission and introversion–extraversion, high-dominance introverts (in American politics, presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover) are quite willing to use military force, tending

to divide the world, in their thought, between the moral values they think it ought to exhibit and the forces opposed to this vision. They tend to have a strong, almost Manichean, moral component to their views. They tend to be described as stubborn and tenacious. They seek to reshape the world in accordance with their personal vision, and their foreign policies are often characterized by the tenaciousness with which they advance one central idea. … [These leaders] seem relatively preoccupied with themes of exclusion, the establishment of institutions or principles to keep potentially disruptive forces in check. (p. 449; italics in original)

Etheredge’s high-dominance introvert is similar in character to Margaret Hermann’s (1987) expansionist orientation to foreign affairs. These leaders have a view of the world as being “divided into ‘us’ and ‘them,’” based on a belief system in which conflict is viewed as inherent in the international system. This world view prompts a personal political style characterized by a “wariness of others’ motives” and a directive, controlling interpersonal orientation, resulting in a foreign policy “focused on issues of security and status,” favoring “low-commitment actions” and espousing “short-term, immediate change in the international arena.” Expansionist leaders “are not averse to using the ‘enemy’ as a scapegoat” and their rhetoric often may be “hostile in tone” (pp. 168–169).

References

Etheredge, L. S. (1978). Personality effects on American foreign policy, 1898–1968: A test of interpersonal generalization theory. American Political Science Review72, 434–451.

Hermann, M. G. (1987). Assessing the foreign policy role orientations of sub-Saharan African leaders. In S. G. Walker (Ed.), Role theory and foreign policy analysis (pp. 161–198). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Pilot Study — April 25, 2014

Putin-poster
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Full Study — July 30, 2014

Following additional data collection by summer research fellow Joe Trenzeluk during the months of June and July, the psychological assessment of Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been completed. The next phase of the study, to be conducted during the month of August, will be to elaborate on Putin’s leadership style, employing his personality profile as a temporally and cross-situationally stable framework for anticipating his future political behavior.


Click on image for larger view

Joe Trenzeluk presents his research on "The personality profile of Russian president Vladimir Putin" at the Undergraduate Research Poster Session, Great Hall, St. John's University, Collegeville, Minn., Aug. 6, 2014.
Joe Trenzeluk presents his research on “The personality profile of Russian president Vladimir Putin” at the Undergraduate Research Poster Session, Great Hall, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn., Aug. 6, 2014.

Research report — January 5, 2017

The Political Personality Personality of Russian Federation President
Vladimir Putin

(Владимир Путин)

Aubrey Immelman and Joseph V. Trenzeluk
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
January 2017

Putin with flag of Russia.jpg

Abstract

This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant data regarding President Putin was extracted from open-source intelligence and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Putin’s primary personality patterns were found to be Dominant/controlling (a measure of aggression or hostility), Ambitious/self-serving (a measure of narcissism), and Conscientious/dutiful, with secondary Retiring/reserved (introverted) and Dauntless/adventurous (risk-taking) tendencies and lesser Distrusting/suspicious features. The blend of primary patterns in Putin’s profile constitutes a composite personality type aptly described as an expansionist hostile enforcer.

Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. This personality pattern comprises the “hostile” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled. This personality pattern delineates the “expansionist” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Conscientious individuals are dutiful and diligent, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail; they are adept at crafting public policy but often lack the retail political skills required to consummate their policy objectives and are more technocratic than visionary. This personality pattern fashions the “enforcer” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Retiring (introverted) individuals tend not to develop strong ties to others, are somewhat deficient in the ability to recognize the needs or feelings of others, and may lack spontaneity and interpersonal vitality.

Dauntless individuals are adventurous, individualistic, daring personalities resistant to deterrence and inclined to take calculated risks.

Putin’s major personality-based strengths in a political role are his commanding demeanor and confident assertiveness. His major personality-based shortcomings are his uncompromising intransigence, lack of empathy and congeniality, and cognitive inflexibility.

Full-text download » http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/104/

Research presentation — April 30, 2022


Abby Goff presents her research poster on “The Post-Expansionist Profile of Russian President Vladimir Putin” at the Minnesota Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, April 30, 2022.


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Related reports

Putin-leopard_Obama-puppy

Putin Should Prepare Himself for Clinton (Joe Trenzeluk, St. Cloud Times, June 28, 2014) — The past few months have sparked heated debate regarding President Obama’s handling of foreign policy, specifically the crisis in Ukraine and his negotiations, or lack thereof, with Vladimir Putin. … Political-psychological studies suggest that putative 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton may be better suited than Obama to deal with Putin. … Full report

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 at the opening ceremony of the monument to the Heroes of World War I, behind him, on the day of the 100th anniversary of its beginning in Victory Park on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow, Russia.

Profile Hints at Putin Mindset (Joe Trenzeluk, St. Cloud Times, August 3, 2014) — On July 17, 298 innocent victims were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine. As attempts to investigate the incident continue, international pressure has been placed on Russian President Vladimir Putin because it is believed the Russian military supplied Ukrainian pro-Russia separatists with the Buk surface-to-air missiles that downed the airliner. … Full report

Kenneth Dekleva, M.D. (Photo: Aubrey Immelman)

The Many Faces of Vladimir Putin: A Political Psychology Profile (Kenneth DeklevaThe Cipher, January 22, 2017) — Many profiles of Putin have missed the mark, labeling him as a “thug” or seeing him as a mere tool of larger, more intricate power structures or groupings, such as the siloviki, Russia’s military, law-enforcement, and intelligence communities. Such analyses of Putin’s political behavior have at times led to a lack of predictive power regarding Russia’s actions or to heightened emotional predictions of a new Cold War or military conflict between Russia and the West. … Full report

SIDEBAR

profiles630x354.jpg?w=990

The CIA’s secret psychological profiles of dictators and world leaders are amazing: Psychoanalyzing strongmen, from Castro to Saddam (Dave Gilson, Mother Jones, Feb. 11, 2015) — Last week, Politico and USA Today reported about a secret 2008 Pentagon study which concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defining characteristic is … autism. The Office of Net Assessment’s Body Leads project asserted that scrutinizing hours of Putin footage revealed “that the Russian President carries a neurological abnormality … identified by leading neuroscientists as Asperger’s Syndrome, an autistic disorder which affects all of his decisions.” Putin’s spokesman dismissed the claim as “stupidity not worthy of comment.” But it was far from the first time the intelligence community has tried to diagnose foreign leaders from afar on behalf of American politicians and diplomats. The CIA has a long history of crafting psychological and political profiles of international figures, with varying degrees of depth and accuracy. … Full story

Updated Threat Assessment

March 20, 2022

On February 25, 2022 – the day after Russia invaded Ukraine – U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the “Gang of Eight” in Congress with access to the most sensitive classified intelligence information, tweeted, “I wish I could share more, but for now I can say it’s pretty obvious to many that something is off with #Putin. … It would be a mistake to assume this Putin would react the same way he would have 5 years ago.”

Rubio denied that his tweet referenced classified assessments of Vladimir Putin’s mental state by U.S. intelligence agencies; however, questions regarding Putin’s mental stability were reinforced by contemporaneous statements made by other public figures with past connections to the intelligence community.

For example, on February 27, Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, said on Fox News Sunday that Putin “seems erratic,” with “an ever deepening, delusional rendering of history.”

Concurrently, Fox News reported that James Clapper, former national intelligence director in the Obama administration, “echoed Rice’s assessment,” telling CNN Putin was “unhinged” and that he was worried about Putin’s “acuity and balance,” given that he has his finger on the nuclear trigger.

Furthermore, an unnamed “senior national security official” under former U.S. president Donald Trump told Fox News that when Putin met with French president Emmanuel Macron in February, “he seemed ‘paranoid.’ ”

Finally, for a contrary point of view, Fox News quoted former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Rebekah Koffler, author of Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America, as saying: “Putin is absolutely not crazy. … He’s not delusional, there are no mental anomalies. … Putin is a cold-blooded, typical Russian autocratic leader and a very calculated risk-taker. He’s simply executing a plan that he has been hatching for 20 years.”

Koffler’s analysis is congruent with the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics’s (USPP) psychological profile of Putin. Moreover, her analysis aligns with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Wilder School of Government & Public Affairs assistant professor Benjamin R. Young’s exposition of Putin’s “Russkiy Mir” worldview, published in Foreign Policy on (March 6, 2022). Following is a summary of these two perspectives.

What is Putin’s personality profile and has it changed in the recent past?

A study conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics in 2014 may be summarized as follows:

Putin’s primary personality patterns were found to be Dominant/controlling (a measure of aggression or hostility), Ambitious/self-serving (a measure of narcissism), and Conscientious/dutiful, with secondary Retiring/reserved (introverted) and Dauntless/adventurous (risk-taking) tendencies and lesser Distrusting/suspicious features. The blend of primary patterns in Putin’s profile constitutes a composite personality type aptly described as an expansionist hostile enforcer.

Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. This personality pattern encapsulates the “hostile” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled. This personality pattern reveals the “expansionist” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Conscientious individuals are dutiful and diligent, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail; they are adept at crafting public policy but often lack the retail political skills required to consummate their policy objectives and are more technocratic than visionary. This personality pattern fashions the “enforcer” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Retiring (introverted) individuals tend not to develop strong ties to others, are somewhat deficient in the ability to recognize the needs or feelings of others, and may lack spontaneity and interpersonal vitality.

Dauntless individuals are adventurous, individualistic, daring personalities resistant to deterrence and inclined to take calculated risks.

In theory, one would not expect any significant changes to Putin’s personality profile as assessed in 2014 because personality, by definition, refers to the ways a person’s thoughts (cognitions), emotions/feelings (affects), behaviors (actions), and mode of relating to others are stable over time and consistent over situations (i.e., temporal stability and cross-situational consistency).

However, it is possible for personality functioning – perhaps due to prolonged social isolation or chronic psychological stressors – to become compromised (decompensated) over time, shading into the sphere of mental illness.

For the purpose of risk assessment, plausible (though hypothetical) comorbidities of Putin’s primary personality patterns are outlined below:

MIDC Scale 1A: The Dominant Pattern

According to Theodore Millon (2011), Dominant (Assertive–Denigrating–Sadistic spectrum) personality types are notably predisposed to syndromes of a paranoidlike character: “Delusional disorders may occur owing to life’s circumstances that force the sadist into patterns of social withdrawal, and these may lead, in turn, to fixed ideas of a delusional nature.” (p. 646)

MIDC Scale 2: The Ambitious Pattern

According to Millon (2011), Ambitious (Confident–Egotistic–Narcissistic spectrum) personality types “may decompensate into paranoid disorders. Owing to their excessive use of fantasy mechanisms, they are disposed to misinterpret events and to construct delusional beliefs. Unwilling to accept constraints on their independence and unable to accept the viewpoints of others, narcissists may isolate themselves from the corrective effects of shared thinking. Alone, they may ruminate and weave their beliefs into a network of fanciful and totally invalid suspicions.” (pp. 407–408)

MIDC Scale 6: The Conscientious Pattern

According to Millon (2011), “the frequency of co-morbidity is perhaps the lowest” among Conscientious (Reliable–Constricted–Compulsive spectrum) personality types and “tends to be fairly circumscribed when compared with other personality disorders.” (p. 508)

Formulation

Two of Putin’s primary personality patterns delusional syndromes as potential comorbidities. A delusion may be defined as a false belief that is impervious to reason. In the context of political leadership, it may be instructive to examine potential delusional thinking on the part of Putin’s as a preexisting vulnerability rooted in his political ideology or, more specifically his worldview. In that regard, Young’s description of Putin’s view of the world is enlightening.

Putin’s Russkiy Mir worldview

According to Benjamin Young (2022),

Putin believes an invasion of Ukraine is a righteous cause and necessary for the dignity of the Russian civilization, which he sees as being genetically and historically superior to other Eastern European identities. The idea of protecting Russian-speakers in Eurasia has been a key part of Putin’s “Russkiy Mir” worldview and 21st-century Russian identity. Under the rubric of Russkiy Mir (Russian World), Putin’s government promotes the idea that Russia is not a mere nation-state but a civilization-state that has an important role to play in world history.

In 1997, Russian post-liberal, neo-fascist philosopher Alexander Dugin, later an advisor to Putin, published his foundational book, Foundations of Geopolitics. Referred to as Putin’s Rasputin, Dugin argues that the world order is shaped by competition between Sea Powers (Atlanticists), such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and the EU countries, and Land Powers (Eurasianists), such as Russia.

Dugin argues that Russia’s geopolitical position weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that invasions of Georgia and Ukraine were necessary for tilting the world system back in Moscow’s favor. For Dugin, an invasion of Ukraine was the most important part of this civilizational battle between the sea-faring Atlanticists and the land power Eurasianists. “Ukraine, as an independent state with some territorial ambitions, poses a huge danger to the whole of Eurasia, and without solving the Ukrainian problem, it makes no sense to talk about continental geopolitics,” Dugin explained in his 1997 book. While Dugin’s closeness to Putin’s inner circle has varied throughout time, his ideas have permeated within elite Russian political and military circles. The recent invasion of Ukraine is a continuation of a Dugin-promoted strategy for weakening the international liberal order.

Along with Duginism, the Kremlin has circulated the ideas of Russkiy Mir within Russian media and civic society. Putin first publicly mentioned the term Russkiy Mir in 2001 at the first World Congress of Russian Compatriots Living Abroad. He said, “The notion of the Russian World extends far from Russia’s geographical borders and even far from the borders of the Russian ethnicity.” Revanchism and a belief in the sacred role of the Russian civilization in world history have become the defining element of 21st-century Russian identity. …

For Putin, the collapse of the Soviet Union was an ideological calamity not because he holds any torch for communism itself but because it spiritually distanced Russian-speakers from their motherland. … For a patriotic ideologue such as Putin, this separation of Russophones from their motherland was an existential threat to the survival of the great Russian civilization.

For the last 20 years, Putin has sought closer ties with Russophone “compatriots” in former Soviet republics and has occasionally used the concept of Russkiy Mir to justify the 2008 invasion of Georgia and the 2014 annexation of Crimea. In the Russkiy Mir worldview, Ukraine plays a special role. It is the cornerstone of Russian civilization and culture. … For the Kremlin, without a Russophone Ukraine, there is no Russian World.

Formulation

Considering that Putin has subscribed to the “Russkiy Mir” worldview for at least two decades, his political cognition appears to be more an obsession embedded in his Conscientious personality pattern than a delusion comorbid with his Dominant and Ambitious personality patterns. Stated differently, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine may be viewed more as compulsion driven than delusional or “paranoidal.”

Person–Situation Interaction

There is no direct cause–effect relationship between personality and political behavior; behavior is a function of the internal dispositions of the person (including their ideological predispositions, worldview, personality traits, attitudes, and values) interacting with the external environment, or situation, which – following field theorist Kurt Lewin – may be summarized with the notation B = f(P × S).

Thus, it would be a mistake to attribute Putin’s actions exclusively to personological determinants (P) of political behavior (B). Based in research conducted at the USPP, it is plausible that a significant situational determinant (S) – effectively, a precipitating variable – of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine is the transition from the administration of Donald Trump (the most aggressive and least accommodating U.S. president studied under the auspices of the USPP in the past three decades) to that of Joe Biden (the least aggressive, most accommodating/conciliatory president). If, indeed, Putin’s political calculus was informed by his perception of the current occupant of the White House as a risk-averse, conciliatory, nonconfrontational commander-in-chief, that perception could have been reinforced by the fiasco of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Empirical findings

According to Griebie and Immelman (2021), Joe Biden’s score of 3 on Scale 1A (Dominant) — a measure of aggressiveness — is the lowest score obtained by any major-party presidential candidate in the seven election cycles since 1996. In descending order of magnitude, the Scale 1A elevations of major-party presidential nominees studied at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics are: Donald Trump, 22 (2016, 2020; Immelman, 2016b); Hillary Clinton, 21 (2016; Immelman, 2016a); Bob Dole, 21 (1996; Immelman, 1998a); George W. Bush, 11 (2000; Immelman, 2002); John McCain, 10 (2008; Immelman, 2007); Al Gore, 8 (2000; Immelman, 1998b); Mitt Romney, 8 (2012; Immelman, 2012); Bill Clinton, 7 (1996; Immelman, 1998a); Barack Obama, 7 (2008, 2012; Immelman, 2010); John Kerry, 6 (2004; Immelman & Beatty, 2005); Joe Biden, 3 (2020; Griebie & Immelman, 2020).

Moreover, Griebie and Immelman (2021) note that Joe Biden’s score of 9 on MIDC scale 4 (Accommodating) — a measure of agreeableness — compares as follows with recent U.S. presidents: Barack Obama, 5 (Immelman, 2010); Bill Clinton, 5 (Immelman, 1998a); George W. Bush, 4 (Immelman, 2002); Donald Trump, 0 (Immelman, 2016b; Immelman & Griebie, 2020).

What if … Rubio and others are correct that Putin is “off,” “paranoid,” or “unhinged”?

Christopher S. Chivvis, a former U.S. intelligence official for Europe, recently wrote that “scores of war games carried out by the United States and its allies” all projected that Mr. Putin would launch a single nuclear strike if he faced limited fighting with NATO or major setbacks in Ukraine that he blamed on the West. (Max Fisher, “As Russia digs in, what’s the risk of nuclear War? The New York Times, March 16, 2022)

As political scientist Betty Glad wrote in a 2002 Political Psychology article titled “Why tyrants go too far: Malignant narcissism and absolute power”:

[A]bsolute power, paradoxically, is apt to result in even more extreme behavior. Even a malignant narcissist, in the climb to power, operates within certain external political constraints. But once he has attained absolute power, he can act out the grandiose fantasies that he had hitherto kept in some check. Fantasies, however, are not good guides to action. The individual under their pull is apt to overestimate his capabilities, fail to appreciate realistic obstacles in the external environment, and act in increasingly chaotic ways. As his cruelties and apparent erratic behaviors expand, he creates new enemies. Eventually, as he engages in ever more extreme behavior, his major psychological defense – paranoia – breaks down.

The particular finale to the tyrant’s story, however, will depend on the political structure in which he operates and the vicissitudes of fortune. If his extreme behavior leads to the creation of opposing alliances, new boundaries may keep his potential for fragmentation in check. But if he has undertaken a path that permits no face-saving exit, he may take a route that risks the structures he has built. Caught in a maelstrom of conflicting wishes and emotions and undertaking adventures for which there is no realistic productive end, the individual in such circumstances may seek some sort of way out. For those confronting such a leader, efforts should be made to maintain clear, firm, but non-provocative boundaries. Compromise with him is likely only to whet the appetite. But confrontations that humiliate him could lead to behavior that is destructive both to him and those threatening him. Short of keeping such a person from ever coming to power, the creation of countervailing constraints that are both clear and impersonally used may be the best alternative available. (pp. 33–34)

At what point do leaders reveal that they may not be of sound mind? To paraphrase Glad (2002), when the leader under the spell of narcissistic dreams of glory begins “to overestimate his capabilities, fail to appreciate realistic obstacles in the external environment, and act in increasingly chaotic ways” (p. 33) – to which one might add, when he fails to heed the counsel of his closest and most trusted advisers.

Within the parameters of the theoretical framework employed by Glad (2002) in her analysis of “why tyrants go too far,” the malignant narcissist’s

antisocial behavior is manifest in aggression or sadism directed against others or against himself through suicidal and self-destructive behavior. He also has strong tendencies toward paranoia (Kernberg, 1992, p. 81; Post, 1993, pp. 102–104), that is, “delusions of conspiracy and victimization” that are apt to be well concealed from those around him (Robins & Post, 1997, p. 4). The central defense of such a person, Volkan (1988, pp. 99–100, 201) argued, is splitting. Such a person maintains some sort of stability via a paranoid defense. He dichotomizes the world into good and evil elements, projecting his own dark side and vulnerabilities onto an external source, transforming an internal conflict into an external one. Thus, he is able to distance himself from an internal conflict by transforming that conflict into an external battle between himself as the representative of good and the scapegoat as the representative of evil. (p. 22)

Do attitudes predict behavior?

Icek Ajzen and Martin Fishbein’s theory of planned behavior

References

Fisher, M. (2022, March 16). As Russia digs in, what’s the risk of nuclear War? ‘It’s not zero.’ The New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/16/world/europe/ukraine-russia-nuclear-war.html

Glad, B. (2002). Why tyrants go too far: Malignant narcissism and absolute power. Political Psychology23(1), 1–37.

Griebie, A., & Immelman, A. (2021, July). The personality profile and leadership style of U.S. president Joe Biden. Paper presented at the 44th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, July 11–13, 2021 (virtual conference). https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/132

Immelman, A. (1998a). The political personalities of 1996 U.S. presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. The Leadership Quarterly9(3), 335–366. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1048-9843(98)90035-2

Immelman, A. (1998b, July). The political personality of U.S. vice president Al Gore. Paper presented at the 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Montréal, PQ, Canada, July 12–15, 1998. http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/37/

Immelman, A. (2002). The political personality of U.S. president George W. Bush. In L. O. Valenty & O. Feldman (Eds.), Political leadership for the new century: Personality and behavior among American leaders (pp. 81–103). Praeger.

Immelman, A. (2007, July). The political personalities of 2008 Republican presidential contenders John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Paper presented at the 30th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Portland, OR, July 4–7, 2007. http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/28/

Immelman, A. (2010, July). The political personality of U.S. president Barack Obama. Paper presented at the 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Francisco, CA, July 7–10, 2010. http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/25/

Immelman, A. (2012, July). The political personality of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Paper presented at the 35th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Chicago, IL, July 6–9, 2012. http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/98/

Immelman, A. (2016a, October). The political personality of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Collegeville and St. Joseph, MN: St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics. http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/102/

Immelman, A. (2016b, October). The political personality of 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. Paper presented at the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Antonio, TX, July 4–7, 2018. http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/103/

Immelman, A., & Beatty, A. (2005, July). The political personality of 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Paper presented at the 28th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Toronto, ON, July 3–6, 2005. http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/29/

Immelman, A., & Griebie, A. (2020, July). The personality profile and leadership style of U.S. president Donald J. Trump in office. Paper presented at the 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Berlin, Germany, July 14–16, 2020 (virtual conference). http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/129/

Millon, T. (2011). Disorders of personality: Introducing a DSM/ICD spectrum from normal to abnormal (3rd ed.). Wiley.

Young, B. R. (2022, March 6). Putin has a grimly absolute vision of the ‘Russian World.’ Foreign Policyhttps://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/06/russia-putin-civilization/

When Russia's Vladimir Putin began a military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, it was widely assumed that Ukraine would surrender quickly. Instead, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky—an actor-turned-politician famous for playing an actor-turned-politician in Servant of the People—refused to budge, withstood multiple assassination attempts and rallied his people to fight. He pleaded with the international community to implement sanctions on the Russians and to provide weapons and ammunition for the Ukrainians. How did Zelensky accomplish this transformation? Where did he first take Putin's measure? Read about it in this exclusive advance look from Ukrainian journalist and political commentator Serheii Rudenko's upcoming Zelensky: A Biography (Polity Books, July 18), in which he explores Zelensky's life and governing style, from his childhood through the beginnings of the war.

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Olena Cherninka; Polity

In the beginning was the word. Or rather, several words. And, more precisely, the name of the TV series: Servant of the People. Then there was a political party with the same name. Without an ideology. Without local party cells. Without party members.

With absolutely nothing behind it, the party already had a 4 percent following in December 2017.

For most of its supporters, the Servant of the People Party was political entertainment: a convention with Coca-Cola, pizza, and shawarma (a gyro sandwich), a selfie with a popular actor, memes such as "Let It Be the Stadium Then" and "Let's Beat Them All Together," Volodymyr Zelensky's phenomenal victory, a cinematic inauguration. A young, handsome and quick-witted leader. However, the phenomenon of the Servant of the People Party was precisely the fact that it was perceived as a project of the protagonist of the film version, Vasyl Holoborodko, rather than that of the real president, Zelensky.

'I Will Never Let You All Down'

On April 21, 2019, at 8 p.m, Zelensky and members of his team appeared before journalists to the sounds of the song "I Love My Country" from the soundtrack to the film (and TV series) Servant of the People. At that moment, it seemed that this simple song was being sung not only by the victorious candidate himself, but also by the 73 percent of the electorate who had voted for him.

Zelensky was still in the character of Vasyl—the high-school teacher, who, in the TV series, became head of state—and tried to joke, to toss barbs at the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), which, according to him, kept him on his toes at all times, and to show optimism.

In 2019, Ukraine's sixth president announced: "I promise I will never let you all down." Since then, we have seen Zelensky in various situations. He and his team have been criticized for being unprofessional. They have been accused of corruption, arrogance and even treason.

However, starting from February 24, 2022, the beginning of Russia's large-scale aggression against the Ukrainian state, we have discovered a completely different Zelensky. A man who was not afraid to accept Vladimir Putin's challenge and become the leader of popular resistance to Russian aggression. A president who managed to unite in this fight his supporters and opponents, corrupt officials and fighters against corruption, adults and children, people of different nationalities and faiths. A head of state who is greeted with applause in European parliaments and the U.S. Congress.

It has to be said that Ukrainians are accustomed to believing in myths: in the gold of Hetman Polubotko, which is allegedly kept somewhere in Britain (supposedly deposited in the Bank of England in the 1700s by a Ukrainian national, to be repaid with a high interest rate upon Ukraine's independence), in the messianism of former president Viktor Yushchenko, in the fact that all their problems would be solved by Zelensky and his party. Just like in the movies.

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A Ukrainian tank heads towards Lysychansk, Ukraine, Friday June 10, 2022. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty

But people have completely forgotten that the Servant of the People Party is not a TV series about Holoborodko and his bicycle. It represents themselves and the future of their children. They trusted Zelensky and his team. Whether or not this decision was correct will become clear in the aftermath of the Russian-Ukrainian war, because it has been up to Zelensky and the Servant of the People not only to fulfill their election promises, but literally to fight for Ukrainian independence.

To Look Into the Eyes of Putin

During the first few months of his presidency, Zelensky sought a meeting with Putin. The new leader of Ukraine was anxious to fulfill his campaign promise—to end the war in the Donbas. He understood that his campaign rhetoric, which had been reduced to the formula "just stop shooting," had proved unviable. It was necessary to sit down at the negotiating table with Putin.

Zelensky said he wanted to look the master of the Kremlin in the eye and understand him as a person. For this reason, he was ready for anything—for another truce in the Donbas, even if it did not bring peace; for the dispersal of forces on the front line; for another settlement with Moscow. Zelensky sincerely believed that, if he looked into the eyes of the Russian president, he would at least see some sign of sadness about the 14,000 dead in the Donbas.

The Ukrainian president seemed convinced that his actor's charisma and unique charm would work wonders in Paris, where the Normandy Four summit was scheduled for December 9, 2019, and he would return home with guarantees of an end to the war in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, Zelensky completely forgot that Putin was no worse an actor than he was. Seriously, Putin had played the role of peacemaking president for 20 years, pretending that "they're not there." In Georgia, the Transnistria region and Syria. The same in Ukraine.

The guard of honor lined up in the courtyard of the Élysée Palace. French President Emmanuel Macron greeted guests on the porch, with journalists standing in front of the guard of honor. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first to arrive. A Mercedes-Benz drove Ms. Merkel almost up to the doorstep of the palace, where, dressed in a blue jacket, she was met and kissed by an elegant and smiling Macron. A Renault Espace, with Zelensky, was the second car to drive into the courtyard and stop at the gate. The president of Ukraine walked briskly toward the president of France and cheerfully greeted Macron. Against this background, one of the Russian journalists shouted: "Mr. Zelensky, what would be a success for you? Mr. Zelensky! Mr. Zelensky, please answer the question! Mr. Zelensky!" However, Macron and Zelensky ignored the man shouting from the crowd and, like two good friends, marched to the entrance of the palace.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend their summit on Ukraine at Elysee Palace on December 9, 2019 in Paris, France. Christophe Petit Tesson/Getty

Putin was the last to arrive. He tried not to show any emotion. The master of the Kremlin emerged slowly from the Aurus-41231SB Senat L700 car and just as ponderously plodded around the courtyard, approached Macron, shook his hand, and disappeared inside. This episode was very expressive. The state leader, who was trying to instill fear in Europe and the world, looked old, lame, and was no match for Macron and Zelensky. It was a different era, a different age, a different mentality, a different thirst for life.

There were nine hours of talks ahead as well as Zelensky's debut press conference as a member of the Normandy Four. The very fact that the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia were meeting after a three-year break was already a victory. Behind closed doors, Zelensky met one-on-one with Putin, then with Macron, and later with Merkel. He did not say publicly what he had seen in his Russian counterpart's eyes. Apparently, Putin used his traditional negotiation techniques—blackmail, intimidation and the carrot-and-stick method. During the protocol photoshoot before the talks, Zelensky was noticeably nervous. At first, he wanted to take Putin's place, then he turned to talk to journalists and inadvertently showed them some papers. These were topics for negotiations.

"Once everyone has left," the Russian president told Zelensky, pointing to the person in charge of the photoshoot, "we will start negotiations." The Ukrainian president took a sip of water. His anxiety was obvious.

Then there were negotiations. Zelensky did not seem impressed by his tête-à-tête with Putin. By the end of the summit, the presidents of Russia and Ukraine had not arrived at a common position on the future of the Donbas.

Putin was relentless—this was only to be as prescribed in the Minsk agreements, i.e., on the day after the elections in the ORDLO (the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine). Zelensky was against this and complained about the Minsk agreements, which had been approved by his predecessor Petro Poroshenko. However, in the press release all parties expressed their intention to agree on the legal aspects of the special status of local self-government in the ORDLO and to elaborate on the Steinmeier formula (which called for local elections under the auspices of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] in the separatist-controlled region in the east, followed by a special self-governing status). Only a few people know for sure what was really going on behind the scenes at the Paris summit. Interior minister Arsen Avakov praised the Ukrainian president and told reporters that the latter had allegedly asked (Russian diplomat) Sergei Lavrov not to nod his head. "Volodymyr Zelensky, in conversation, mostly in Russian, finally exploded and said: 'Mr. Lavrov, stop nodding, there is no need to nod! Yes, I know your last name, because, unlike you, I walked around all these places along the border on my own legs."

The next meeting of the Normandy Four, scheduled for March 2020, did not take place, as by then the world was engulfed by the COVID-19 pandemic. All Zelensky's attempts to negotiate with Putin over the course of two years had failed.

In spring 2021, when the Ukrainian president suggested that the master of the Kremlin meet him in the Donbas. Putin replied: "We are interested in the Russian language, the church, the citizens of the Russian Federation in Ukraine. The Donbas is an internal issue of the Ukrainian state." Five months later, Russian deputy security secretary Dmitry Medvedev wrote in the Russian Kommersant business newspaper that any contact with Ukraine's current leadership was meaningless and Moscow would wait for a change of government in Kyiv. And four months after that, on February 24, 2022, Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Despite all this, Zelensky is still ready to meet with the Russian president. However, this would no longer be in order to look him in the eye, but to stop Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The President of War

Zelensky sought to become the president of peace in 2019. He promised to end the war in the Donbas and to put an end to the thorny relations with the Russian Federation. For this, as he said, he was ready even to negotiate with the devil. However, the devil in the Kremlin was prepared to negotiate with Zelensky on just one thing—the capitulation of Ukraine to Russia. That is something to which Zelensky could not agree.

Thus, Putin left Zelensky no choice. He was forced to become the president of war rather than the president of peace. He had a complicated mission—to lead his country into battle against the Russian occupiers. This is a difficult ordeal for someone who has never served in the army and who had no experience in politics until 2019.

Prior to the war, almost every one of Zelensky's public addresses was reminiscent of his acting past. Pauses, facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures. There was too much theatricality and artificiality in all this.

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MARCH 11, 2022 - President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pictured during his regular address to the nation, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. The head of state said that we had already reached a strategic turning point and were moving towards our victory. Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty

Beginning on February 24, 2022, the first day of Russia's war against Ukraine, all this would disappear from Zelensky's arsenal. We would see a completely different person. With a weary and unshaven face. In khaki green clothing, without a tie, no makeup, or TV spotlights. A president who speaks painfully about Ukrainians in all walks of life who had fallen into the vortex of the Russian–Ukrainian war. A person with real emotions. A leader of the Ukrainian nation who will call out to the world about the war in his land.

The sixth president of Ukraine has come a long way— from an actor to the leader of the Ukrainian nation. From a man who was met with interest and irony by leaders of the world's nations, to a politician who is now met with applause in the West, and by world leaders who consider it an honor to call him their friend.

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Polity

Excerpt adapted from Zelensky: A Biography by Serhii Rudenko. Copyright © 2022 Polity Press.

Correction 6/30/2022 8:05am EST: The author's name was misspelled and has been corrected. Newsweek sincerely regrets the mistake.

Avril-Haines-gestures-800x450.jpg

Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants to seize most of Ukraine, but his forces are so degraded by combat that they likely can only achieve incremental gains in the near term, the top US intelligence officer said Wednesday (29 June).

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, outlining the current US intelligence assessment of the more than four-month war, said that the consensus of US spy agencies is that it will grind on “for an extended period of time.”

“In short, the picture remains pretty grim and Russia’s attitude toward the West is hardening,” Haines told a Commerce Department conference.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week told US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders that he wants the war over by the end of the year.

But Haines’ comments suggested that the billions of dollars in modern arms being supplied by the United States and other countries to Zelenskyy’s forces may not give them the ability to turn the tide against Russia any time soon.

She said that Putin remains intent on overruning most of Ukraine even though Ukrainian forces beat back Russia’s attempt to capture the capital Kyiv in February, forcing Moscow to reduce its target to seizing the entire eastern Donbas region.

“We think he has effectively the same political goals that we had previously, which is to say that he wants to take most of Ukraine,” Haines said.

Russian forces, however, have been so degraded by more than four months of combat that it is unlikely they can achieve Putin’s goal any time soon, Haines said in her first public assessment of the war since May.

“We perceive a disconnect between Putin’s near-term military objectives in this area and his military’s capacity, a kind of mismatch between his ambitions and what the military is able to accomplish,” she said.

Haines said US intelligence agencies see three possible scenarios, the most likely being a grinding conflict in which Russian forces “make incremental gains, with no breathrough.”

The other scenarios include a major Russian breakthrough and Ukraine succeeding in stabilizing the frontlines while achieving small gains, perhaps near the Russian-held city of Kherson and other areas of southern Ukraine.

It will take years for Russia to rebuild its forces, she said.

“During this period, we anticipate that they’re going to be more reliant on assymetric tools that they have, such as cyber attacks, efforts to control energy, even nuclear weapons in order to try to manage and project power and influence globally,” Haines said.

“In the interim, Russian troops are unlikely to be able to conduct multiple simultaneous operations,” Haines continued.

Putin’s priority now, she said, is making gains in the Donbas region and collapsing Ukrainian forces, a development that Russia assesses will “cause the resistance from within to slump.”

Haines’ comments came after a summit of NATO leaders on Wednesday branded Russia the most “direct threat” to alliance security and vowed to modernize Kyiv’s forces, saying it stood behind their “heroic defense of their country.”

Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” against Ukraine on 24 February to eliminate what it deemed a fascist government that threatened its security.

Ukraine, the United States and other countries say Russia is conducting an unjustified war of aggression against its neighbor.

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Volodymyr Zelenskiy is perhaps the closest thing to a mythical hero modern politics has to offer. Ukraine’s courageous wartime president captured the world’s imagination with his haunting, straight-to-camera monologues delivered under bombardment. A comic actor turned leader of the resistance, his story is a political fairytale. But is it almost too good to be true?

Truth and fiction collide in the Ukrainian journalist Serhii Rudenko’s quirky and fascinating biography, describing how a man best known for playing a teacher who unexpectedly becomes head of state subsequently did something similar himself.

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When Zelenskiy interrupted his own show on New Year’s Eve 2018 to announce his real-life presidential candidacy direct to viewers, many wondered if it was a joke. Even by the end of the campaign, Rudenko writes, there was still “no such thing as Zelensky the politician”; just a comedian fronting an essentially virtual movement, with no formal members and little ideology beyond appealing to Ukrainians’ exasperation with corruption. “I am not your opponent, I am your verdict,” he memorably told the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, during a TV debate.

As Rudenko points out, however, the idea of disrupting politics by starting a party from scratch potentially served a more serious purpose for Ihor Kolomoisky, the powerful oligarch owner of the TV station behind Zelenskiy’s show. Kolomoisky’s lawyer became one of the candidate’s closest advisers, prompting suspicions about who was really pulling the strings. Yet, in time, the new president would distance himself from his original patrons, finally emerging from their shadow – at least in Rudenko’s telling – as the man we see today.

This hero isn’t perfect, of course. His inexperience is painfully obvious in early dealings with Russia’s Vladimir Putin or on economic policy. Having promised to stop cronyism, he gives jobs to friends and media colleagues; scandals engulf some of his new MPs, and the cars of his political enemies develop an odd habit of catching fire. Disillusionment sets in. But then Putin invades, instantly uniting Ukrainians behind their charismatic leader in an existential battle that, Rudenko patriotically concludes, could signify the “final rupture” between Russia and Ukraine.

The book was originally intended for a Ukrainian audience, who I suspect may be able to read things between the lines that foreigners can’t, particularly in chapters involving some of the more scurrilous rumours about Zelenskiy. But whatever nuances are lost in translation, Rudenko’s central argument couldn’t be clearer: it’s that Putin fatally underestimated his opponent, and will now pay the price. But is that really how the story ends?

The former BBC Moscow correspondent Philip Short’s magisterial Putin: His Life and Times takes a more sober view. Eight years in its gestation and based on access to a Who’s Who of senior politicians, diplomats and intelligence sources, it’s an illuminating attempt to understand the Russian leader from a Russian rather than western perspective. The KGB man-turned-president is, the author suggests, “no more an aberration in Russia than Donald Trump in America, Boris Johnson in Britain or Emmanuel Macron in France”. Like it or not, he is one of the defining figures of our age, and all too often we’re reading him wrong.

A series of eccentric public appearances on the eve of war prompted some to question a clearly frail Putin’s sanity. But Short interprets these as a version of Richard Nixon’s “madman” gambit, “intended to make him appear so irrational and unpredictable that adversaries would hesitate before testing his resolve”. (If so, the west’s cautious approach to military involvement in Ukraine suggests it worked.) Where some see a cold-eyed killer routinely murdering opponents, Short distinguishes between attacks he thinks the president could conceivably have authorised personally – such as the poisoning of the former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in London, or the attempted murder of his rival Alexei Navalny – and those more likely attributable to freelancing among allies, while noting that allowing powerful figures to feel “that they could literally get away with murder” isn’t morally much different from ordering it.

One question haunting this book is whether there was in hindsight a way of avoiding the current war

Short’s Putin is a man of violent emotions ruthlessly repressed; habitually late (a powerplay over those kept waiting), devoid of small talk, so inscrutable that when he proposed to his wife she initially thought he was dumping her. This knack of being what the German security expert Franz J Sedelmayer calls “perfectly grey” in his intentions helped Putin transition seamlessly first from an unremarkable intelligence career into politics (initially working for the powerful mayor of St Petersburg) and then up through the Kremlin’s ranks without being perceived as a threat.

He is pragmatic – not necessarily a compliment in 1990s St Petersburg, where Short writes that “the distinction between politicians, businessmen and criminals was almost completely effaced” and running the city involved opening channels to organised crime – rather than ideological. But his guiding beliefs are nostalgia for past glory, a hankering for a national identity to fill the gap left by communism, and an abhorrence of showing weakness. The lesson of a childhood trading blows with local neighbourhood toughs, he has said, is that if “you want to win a fight you have to carry it through to the end, as if it were the most decisive battle of your life”. The defining event of his life, however, is the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, about which he once raged that “Russia had lost too much, it had been too humiliated”. Ukraine’s misfortune is to embody this humiliation for him.

Short traces the roots of conflict from promises made to Russia in the 1990s that Nato wouldn’t expand eastwards, through the Bush administration’s flirtation with the idea of Ukraine joining, to Putin’s 2014 invasion of Crimea – which Putin insisted was to keep Ukraine out of Nato. (The author gives rather less space to the counter-argument that, however wounding it is to Russian pride, former Soviet republics are free now to make their own choices, including over how to defend themselves from their volatile neighbour.)

Putin’s goal in the current war, Short thinks, is both to make Ukraine declare neutrality and “to show that the United States was powerless to prevent it”. Victory for him may be defined less by territory gained, and more by whether America’s reluctance to intervene directly causes Nato members such as Poland or the Baltics to wonder whether their allies would risk nuclear war to save them either, thus undermining the alliance.

One question haunting this book is whether there was a way of avoiding all this, given Putin’s initial willingness to work with the west in return for economic benefits he thought would help him domestically, plus Europe’s desire for peace. Towards the end, Short lists the decisions he thinks put Washington and Moscow on a collision path, arguing essentially that both sides did what seemed logical to them at the time, but failed at critical moments to grasp how that looked from the other side. There could be no more powerful case for reading both these books than that conflict is so often rooted in human failures of understanding.

  • Zelensky: A Biography by Serhii Rudenko is published by Polity (£20) and Putin: His Life and Times by Philip Short is published by Bodley Head (£30). To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.

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Харинг отметила, что союзников у России осталось немного

Харинг отметила, что союзников у России осталось немного
Фото: Melinda Haring / Facebook

Об этом она говорила во время онлайн-дискуссии Киевского форума по безопасности, которую транслировал в YouTube фонд премьер-министра Украины в 2014–2016 годах Арсения Яценюка Open Ukraine. 

"Мы видели отличные фотографии с саммита НАТО. А Путин знаете, что делал? Был в Туркменистане, пытался собрать страны Организации Договора о коллективной безопасности. И, в отличие от ОДКБ, Альянс НАТО растет и крепнет. А Путин сейчас где-то на юге пытается собрать своих союзников", – сказала она.

Эксперт также отметила, что у РФ остается все меньше поддержки – Турция, по ее мнению, предпочла Запад России.

"Турция уже сейчас не возражает против членства Финляндии и Швеции [в НАТО]. Это очень серьезный шаг вперед, потому что он является сигналом того, что Турция предпочла все-таки Запад России", – сказала Харинг. 

Разница между тем, как проходили саммит НАТО в Мадриде и Каспийский саммит в Ашхабаде, стала предметом множества шуток в сети.  

В состав ОДКБ в настоящее время входят: Армения, Беларусь, Казахстан, Кыргызстан, Россия и Таджикистан.

Контекст:

Саммит НАТО проходит сейчас в Мадриде, мероприятия запланированы с 28-го по 30 июня. Это первый полноценный саммит Альянса с начала полномасштабного вторжения РФ в Украину. 

Лидеры Альянса утвердили новую стратегическую концепцию, в которой говорится, что Россия представляет самую значительную и прямую угрозу" безопасности НАТО. В документе отмечается, что "сильная, независимая Украина жизненно необходима для стабильности евроатлантического пространства" и Альянс "подтверждает решение, принятое на Бухарестском саммите 2008 года" в отношении Украины (тогда члены Альянса решили, что Украина и Грузия будут членами НАТО, и этапом на этом пути должно стать выполнение ПДЧ). 

Также страны НАТО утвердили комплексный пакет оборонной помощи Украине и пригласили Финляндию и Швецию стать членами Альянса. 

Президент Владимир Зеленский выступая перед участниками саммита, призвал помочь Украине закончить войну с Россией победой на поле боя, а также заявил, что политика открытых дверей НАТО не должна напоминать старые турникеты киевского метро: на первый взгляд, дорога открыта, но когда подходишь – турникеты закрываются, пока не заплатишь. "Украина еще недостаточно заплатила? Неужели наш вклад в защиту Европы и всей цивилизации все еще недостаточен?" – сказал глава государства.

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For New York musician Erica Mancini, COVID-19 made repeat performances.

March 2020. Last December. And again this May.

“I’m bummed to know that I might forever just get infected,” said the 31-year-old singer, who is vaccinated and boosted. “I don’t want to be getting sick every month or every two months.”

But medical experts warn that repeat infections are getting more likely as the pandemic drags on and the virus evolves – and some people are bound to get hit more than twice. Emerging research suggests that could put them at higher risk for health problems.

There’s no comprehensive data on people getting COVID-19 more than twice, although some states collect information on reinfections in general. New York, for example, reports around 277,000 reinfections out of 5.8 million total infections during the pandemic. Experts say actual numbers are much higher because so many home COVID-19 tests go unreported.

Several public figures have recently been reinfected. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they got COVID-19 for the second time, and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said he tested positive a third time. All reported being fully vaccinated, and Trudeau and Becerra said they’d gotten booster shots.

“Until recently, it was almost unheard of, but now it’s becoming more commonplace” to have COVID-19 two, three or even four times, said Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute. “If we don’t come up with better defenses, we’ll see much more of this.”

Why? Immunity from past infections and vaccination wanes over time, experts say, leaving people vulnerable.

Also, the virus has evolved to be more contagious. The risk of reinfection has been about seven times higher with omicron variants compared with when delta was most common, research out of the United Kingdom shows. Scientists believe the omicron mutants now causing the vast majority of U.S. cases are particularly adept at getting around immunity from vaccination or past infection, especially infection during the original omicron wave. U.S. health officials are mulling whether to modify boosters to better match recent changes in the coronavirus.

The first time Mancini got COVID-19, she and her fiancé spiked fevers and were sick for two weeks. She couldn’t get tested at the time but had an antibody test a couple months later that showed she had been infected.

“It was really scary because it was so new and we just knew that people were dying from it,” said Mancini. “We were really sick. I hadn’t been sick like that in a long time.”

She got vaccinated with Pfizer in the spring of 2021 and thought she was protected from another infection, especially since she was sick before. But though such “hybrid immunity” can provide strong protection, it doesn’t guarantee someone won’t get COVID-19 again.

Mancini’s second bout, which happened during the huge omicron wave, started with a sore throat. She tested negative at first, but still felt sick driving to a gig four hours away. So she ducked into a Walgreens and did a rapid test in her car. It was positive, she said, “so I just turned the car around and drove back to Manhattan.”

This bout proved milder, with “the worst sore throat of my life,” a stuffy nose, sneezing and coughing.

The most recent illness was milder still, causing sinus pressure, brain fog, a woozy feeling and fatigue. That one, positive on a home test and confirmed with a PCR test, hit despite her Moderna booster shot.

Mancini doesn’t have any known health conditions that could put her at risk for COVID-19. She takes precautions like masking in the grocery store and on the subway. But she usually doesn’t wear a mask on stage.

“I’m a singer, and I’m in these crowded bars and I’m in these little clubs, some of which don’t have a lot of ventilation, and I’m just around a lot of people,” said Mancini, who also plays accordion and percussion. “That’s the price that I’ve paid for doing a lot throughout these past few years. It’s how I make my living.”

Scientists don’t know exactly why some people get reinfected and others don’t, but believe several things may be at play: health and biology, exposure to particular variants, how much virus is spreading in a community, vaccination status and behavior. British researchers found people were more likely to be reinfected if they were unvaccinated, younger or had a mild infection the first time.

Scientists also aren’t sure how soon someone can get infected after a previous bout. And there’s no guarantee each infection will be milder than the last.

“I’ve seen it go both ways,” said Dr. Wesley Long, a pathologist at Houston Methodist. In general, though, breakthrough infections that happen after vaccination tend to be milder, he said.

Doctors said getting vaccinated and boosted is the best protection against severe COVID-19 and death, and there’s some evidence it also lessens the odds of reinfection.

At this point, there haven’t been enough documented cases of multiple reinfections “to really know what the long-term consequences are,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor University’s tropical medicine school.

But a large, new study using data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t yet been reviewed by scientific peers, provides some insight, finding that reinfection increases the risk for serious outcomes and health problems such as lung issues, heart disorders and diabetes compared with a first infection. The risks were most pronounced when someone was ill with COVID-19, but persisted past the acute illness as well.

After Mancini’s last bout, she dealt with dizziness, headaches, insomnia and sinus issues, though she wondered if that was more due to her busy schedule. In a recent week, she had 16 shows and rehearsals — and has no room for another COVID-19 reprise.

“It was not fun,” she said. “I don’t want to have it again.”

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Ukrainian forces continue to hold their positions in the city of Lyschansk following their withdrawal from Sieverodonetsk. Russian forces continue to pursue an approach of creeping envelopment from the Popasna direction, removing the need to force a major new crossing of the Siverskyi Donets River in this sector.

Current ground combat is likely focused around the Lyschansk oil refinery, 10km south-west of the city centre. At the operational level, Russian force continue to make limited progress as they attempt to encircle Ukrainian defenders in northern Donetsk Oblast via advances from Izium.

It is highly likely that Ukrainian forces’ ability to continue fighting delaying battles, and then withdraw troops in good order before they are encircled, will continue to be a key factor in the outcome of the campaign.

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