Russian Defense Minister visits troops pending further orders

 In the absence of Russian progress on the map, Moscow wants its citizens to see the country’s leaders as very active in the war . Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu finally showed up somewhere supposedly near the front lines. Dressed in camouflage, he reviewed the country’s troops involved in the Moscow military escalation in Ukraine . Serious gesture, consultations with other soldiers who accompany him and no clue or message about the next move.

Right now the Russian ground forces have focused more on defense than attack . The offensive is left in the hands of rockets and drones, forming waves of airstrikes in cities that have left millions of Ukrainian civilians without heat, electricity or water for days on end as winter arrives. What began in February as an operation to denazify what Vladimir Putin called a “brother town”, in December is a mere demolition of the infrastructures of those same people.

The images were distributed by the Ministry of Defense. It seems that Shoigu flew around the troop deployment areas and finally visited advanced positions of the Russian units in the area. It was not immediately clear when the trip took place or if Shoigu had ever set foot in Ukraine .

The announcement of the visit came a day after Putin met with the country’s top brass, including Shoigu himself, to hear proposals on how they think the campaign should proceed. Russian military in Ukraine. A “special military operation” that Putin himself admits is going to take a long time .

Defeats

A cascade of defeats in 10 months of fighting has forced to change the contours of a war that the Kremlin still does not dare to call by its name. The conflict, Europe’s deadliest since World War II , has killed thousands, displaced millions and turned Russian-speaking cities to rubble. Moscow trusted in a Ukraine disaffected by its sovereignty and a West moderately indifferent to the future of that post-Soviet republic. But for now he is not rushing to listen to Moscow’s extensive requests.

Many things that could go wrong have gone wrong. Starting with the Russian withdrawal from the areas around the capital kyiv and Ukraine’s second city, Jerkov. Then, more recently, there was a more orderly withdrawal from the city of Kherson. But the big setback has been at home, when the Ukrainian push forced Putin to do what he said would not happen: call up the reservists and recruit Russians from among a population that he wants to keep not indifferent but be alien to Ukraine . At that point, in late summer, it drew public criticism from military bloggers, warmongering speakers usually docile to Kremlin money, and some allies as well.

At Putin’s meeting over the weekend he was seen sitting next to Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov . Both are somewhat scorched by the withdrawals of these months and have been lashed out by hard-line commentators, who celebrate the bombing of Ukrainian cities in social gatherings but are stung with each withdrawal. In the official photos distributed by the Kremlin, Air Force General Sergei Surovikin, appointed on October 8 to lead the military campaign and who has moved part of the troops that have moved, was also shown attending the meetings. it took from Jershon to swell the Russian battering ram in Donbas. Now he has to show that that tactical withdrawal was a good strategic decision.

Waves of missiles

With Surovikin, waves of air raids on cities have left millions of Ukrainian civilians without heat, electricity or water for days on end as winter sets in . Analysts believe that Russia is preparing another offensive, hence the savings, recruitment and slow – but cheap – attrition inflicted on Ukraine with rockets.

But although Shoigu and Surovikin have managed to avoid further withdrawals for the moment, new and more recurring problems appear: the Ukrainian incursions on Russian soil , which this month have gone further than ever and this Sunday were repeated together with the border. The attacks in Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, killed one person and wounded five others, the regional governor said. War rumbles again in western Russia.

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