How the international media covered the Russo-Ukrainian war, April 30

Sasha Sverdlova

The Hill published a column by John O’Neill and Sarah Wynne, co-authors of the book named “Dancer and the Devil” about Stalin’s, Putin’s, and Xiʼs secret killings and bioware. As recently there has been a wave of “suicide” deaths of Russian oligarchs and their families, the column looks into the history of Putin’s secretive “liternoye” killings and makes historical parallels with the same tool used by Stalin. Looking back at Putin’s paths to power, there is a track of suspicious deaths following him: for example, back in 1999, Anatoliy Sobchak, who used to be a Putin-backer, said “Putin is the new Stalin” and was found dead two days later from a heart attack. His two bodyguards also had simultaneous heart attacks at the same time. None of the three had any history of coronary disease. The authors have identified over 20 similarly suspicious deaths over the Putin era. O’Neill and Wynne write that the Stalin period was filled with similar “liternoye” killings, and ironically Stalin himself ended up as a possible victim of one of them. “As Putin deals death to Russian opponents of his mad Ukrainian invasion and then to many thousands of men, women, and children in Ukraine, Putin would be wise to consider the symmetrical justice of Stalin’s own death,” conclude the authors.

Following limitations for export set by Ukraine and Russia, dozens of countries have introduced trade barriers that are only deepening a global food crisis, writes The New York Times. Over the time of the Russo-Ukrainian war, countries imposed 47 export curbs on food and fertilizers. The supply chains previously affected by the pandemic now are strained by new trade barriers. According to experts, the current wave of barriers on wheat began following Russia and Belarus shutting their export. They were followed by the countries along the Ukrainian wheat trade route and then by the major importers like Lebanon, Algeria, and Egypt. Even grocery stores in European countries, such as Spain, Greece, and the UK, are restricting the amount of cereals or oil for purchase. Countries that produce alternative products, like palm oil in Indonesia, are restricting export to save low prices for the local population. As Russia and China have restricted the export of fertilizers, agricultural exporters such as Brazil might also face troubles with the production of oil and grains. These factors will lead to an effect similar to pandemic panic-buying, which left empty grocery stores’ shelves - skyrocketing prices for major products, mostly affecting poor countries in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, that depend on food import.

Foreign Affairs published featured Russian failures in Ukraine in an essay named “How Not to Invade a Nation”. Despite that Russia had more advanced military technology, GDP nine times bigger than Ukrainian, and significantly more troops, the Russian assault on Kyiv failed entirely nearly a month after the start of the full-scale invasion. While outstanding Ukrainian heroism is a significant reason for Russian failure, the root problem was the lousy invasion plan. In the Ukraine plan, Russia violated every principle of successful military campaign planning: choosing one most important objective, assigning sufficient and proper military forces, and finally bringing enough combat power to win the last battle. While at the second stage of the war, Russia is focusing on Donbas, it seems that the Russian military leadership has not learned its’ lessons. So far, the design of the ongoing campaign shares similar blunders to the initial Russian operation. First, it seeks to achieve all the goals at once by seizing the whole Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the next few weeks. Second, Russia is again operating along multiple axes of advance that are not mutually supportive. Finally, the Russians summoned all available forces to the fight from the outset without retaining mobile reserves. Strategy is not everything, and there are other factors that could influence the outcome of this war; however, the mere fact Russia is not able to plan a military campaign is a sign that Ukraine has a real chance of winning this war.