How the international media covered the Russo-Ukrainian war, September 20

Sasha Sverdlova

World Politics Review writes about the role played by the war in Ukraine in the international arena. Against the backdrop of Ukraineʼs successful counteroffensive, many are talking about gains, but it is important not to forget the damage caused to people and the countryʼs infrastructure, which will take decades to restore. At the same time, the victory and sacrifice of Ukrainians became a symbol of the world liberation struggle. In the future, Ukraine still faces a difficult period of reconstruction, which can either turn the country into a model of "tomorrowʼs Europe" or become an instructive story about the harm of corruption, the article says. For the US, the war in Ukraine became an unexpected opportunity to demonstrate military effectiveness and weight as an ally. At the same time, President Biden has framed the war as a battle between "democracies and autocracies" ― and this narrative is polarizing the world, forcing a choice between "black" and "white." Instead, many countries are looking for an alternative to the polar world ― and, for example, a narrative about the right to self-determination as opposed to neo-imperialism would gain more support outside the West, the outlet writes. As for the EU, on the one hand, the leaders of the union managed to demonstrate unity and determination, and on the other, the problems of the attachment of some countries of the bloc to Russia, the obsolescence of the leadership of France and Germany, the revival of right-wing currents, etc. For Russia, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine was a disaster: the military power of the Russian Federation turned out to be a fiction, relations with international partners became strained, and the economy weakened. At the same time, writes WPR, Russia managed to overturn the world order and restore territorial encroachment as a tool of foreign policy. Ukrainian resistance, rightly praised, can also cause the spread of nationalism, which creates dangers for the liberal world. So, the article says, it is not known what lies ahead and whether a successful counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be the "beginning of the end" or the "end of the beginning" of the war.

Russian-born political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace writes in Foreign Policy about the mood of Kremlin elites in light of the failures of the Russian army in Ukraine. The author writes that Putin launched a full-scale invasion without consulting key players, and thus took a big risk. In light of a successful counterattack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, this risk looks like a loss, and among Russian elites questions arise regarding the future development of events. In the first months of the war, writes Stanovaya, the elites were consolidated around Putin and showed humility, many hoped that the war would quickly end with the complete defeat of Ukraine or a peace treaty on the terms of the Russian Federation. Ukraineʼs successes in September cast doubt on the idea of ​​Russiaʼs inevitable success, and elites are worried not only about the weakness of the Russian army, but also about Putinʼs ability to control the situation. No one knows about Putinʼs plans, and he only says that "the goal of the special operation will be achieved" ― and this does not sound convincing, the author writes. Everything indicates that there is almost no communication between the president and the Russian leadership: for example, at the end of August, the presidential administration was still working on preparations for referendums in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, as if they were under Russian control. In the end, the FSB opposed the referendums on security grounds. This shows that Putin cannot coordinate the work of his departments and control the situation. In addition, Stanovaya provides arguments in favor of the existence of a split in the elites and the separation of the group of "passive and diligent", like Prime Minister Mishustin, and "loud and disappointed", like Chechnyaʼs leader Ramzan Kadyrov. For two decades, Putin was a convenient president for the elites, Stanovaya concludes, but now he has ceased to be predictable and competent, and this poses a greater threat to his regime than possible opposition or protests.