Ukrainians Mounting Spirited Resistance

Things don’t seem to be going as smoothly for the Russian army as Putin had anticipated. This article in the London Times sums up the situation on the ground and is consistent with other accounts I have seen:

Pentagon officials said that Russian forces had lost momentum and were not advancing as quickly as their intelligence estimates had predicted. “They are not moving on Kyiv as fast as they anticipated it going,” one said.

Despite Russian forces assaulting air defence and missile systems, Ukraine’s air force was flying sorties. The country’s Ministry of Defence celebrated the reporting for duty of dozens of former pilots.

There are lots of stories of Ukrainian heroism; I won’t try to itemize them here. But if Putin thought the Ukrainians would roll over, he must be surprised. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister is defiant:

After rejecting an offer from Zelensky to talk, the Kremlin proposed a meeting in Minsk, the capital of its client state, Belarus, before claiming Ukraine had waited too long.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, mocked Putin for making his offer only once Russia’s forces had run into heavy resistance. He responded to a call for Ukraine to surrender by telling the Russian president to “go to hell”.

“Putin said yesterday that there is nothing to talk about with Ukraine,” Kuleba said. “Today, the Kremlin counted the number of downed planes and helicopters, the number of burnt tanks and armoured personnel carriers, and saw how many Russian racists our soldiers disposed of per day.”

Russian airplane shot down over Kiev

This is from a Times editorial:

The president [Zelensky] knows that he and Kyiv are the targets for Russia’s decapitation strategy. As they did in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the invading forces aim to seize the capital, capture Mr Zelensky and either execute him, as happened to the Hungarian Imre Nagy, or take him to Moscow, like the Czech leader Alexander Dubcek, to interrogate and torture him. The Kremlin has purported to offer Mr Zelensky direct negotiations in Belarus, with the precondition that he renounce any Ukrainian aspiration to join Nato. To trust any offer made by Mr Putin, exposed as an inveterate liar, would be foolish. Little wonder Mr Zelensky, knowing that his own people will fight to save their nation, has instead appealed for more weapons, more sanctions and a tougher Nato response to Russian aggression.

Zelensky is, as Scott has said, a brave man.

Meanwhile, protests have broken out in Russia and have quickly been suppressed. Ukrainian armed forces can’t hold off the Russians for long, but resistance will continue. The government has armed private citizens and urged them to make Molotov cocktails:

“Yes, maybe they will take the city in two or three days,” a Kyiv resident told The Times. Oksana, who declined to give her full name as she searched in vain for a food market, added: “But then they will face the fight of their lives. Russian soldiers will never sleep soundly in Kyiv — we will make them afraid every moment.”

If Ukraine refuses to be pacified and if protests expand inside Russia, the invasion may come to be seen as not just a mistake but a fiasco. At the moment, that is the most optimistic scenario.

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