Foreign Policy writes about dissent in Russia – but not from those who want peace. Putin succeeded in cultivating public hunger for a rapid victory in Ukraine, and now some groups are expressing growing agitation with the slow pace of war. As there is almost no space for open critique of war, Telegram channels, run by military bloggers have been given a free hand, writes the outlet. These groups are not calling on Russia to stop the war, they are urging the government to deliver a much-promised victory. Some go further and question the quality of Russian command, for example discussing the catastrophic attempts to cross the Siversky Donets River in early May, when Russia is estimated to have lost almost 500 personnel and 80 units of equipment. These military bloggers could even further impact the falling morale of Russian troops, according to the Critical Threats Project director, Fred Kagan. Some other analysts are more skeptical, but also acknowledge that the demand for a rapid victory creates additional political pressure on Putin.
Kremlin officials hope Russia wins the war in Ukraine by fall, writes the Business Insider. Russia’s goal minimum is to capture Donbas and the top goal remains to seize Kyiv. The outlet refers to Russian Meduza sources close to the Kremlin, who said Moscow anticipates western countries to get tired of sending military aid to Ukraine quite soon. One of the sources also believes Europe will have to negotiate with Russia as the heating season approaches, due to its reliance on energy imports. There is no consensus on what “the victory” would look like for Russia, however, capturing Donbas might be a significant achievement able to justify the invasion. Western allies of Ukraine, however, are not sending signals of getting tired and instead continue pledging support to Ukraine – including sending advanced long-range rocket systems.
Russia might close a humanitarian convoy route into Syria to force thousands of people to flee the country, The New York Times writes. Using its veto power at the UN Security Council, Russia has helped shut down three humanitarian corridors to Syria in 2020 and last year agreed to retain the last one at Bab al-Hawa following intense negotiations with the US. This route is the only way for over one million Syrians to receive food, water, and other aid. If shut, it is almost certain that thousands of refugees will flee to the Middle East and Europe. According to NYT, three foreign diplomats said Russia might try to use their vote to gain concessions in Ukraine and that Moscow might lean on countries that would be directly affected by a new wave of Syrian refugees. At the same time, the vast majority of Syrian refugees live in Turkey, which so far has been at least partly serving Russian interests, including by opposing Sweden and Finland from joining NATO. The global food shortage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine is another factor that makes humanitarian aid to Syria especially important this year. The U.S ambassador to the UN called the July vote on the relief of the route “a matter of life and death”.