How the international media covered the Russo-Ukrainian war, September 21

Anton Semyzhenko

The military expert of the American edition of Forbes, David Axe, calls the mobilization in Russia wonderful news for Ukraine. In his opinion, Putin took this step out of desperation, but the probability that the newly arrived Russians at the front will seriously affect the course of events is extremely low. For three reasons. Firstly, all these people have very low motivation: everyone who wanted to go to war in Ukraine has already done so ― in particular, as part of the contract army. Forcefully mobilized, seeing the horrors of this war, at the first opportunity will either surrender or become deserters, the author predicts. Secondly, the army now is primarily high-quality and modern equipment. It is not known where the Russians will take it: "Those ancient T-62 tanks the Russians pulled out of storage this summer were just a preview of the technological regression to come," writes Axe. And thirdly, an army is made out of civilians by education, and it takes six months of training to turn a civilian (even with military training) into a fighter. However, Russia does not need people in six months, it needs them "for yesterday". Skilled trainers are also needed, and they are already actively involved in the training of, for example, the woefully understaffed Third Army Corps of Russia. "In Soviet times, the military commissars had reserve specialists who would train people in case of mobilization," Axe quotes Russian politics expert Kamil Galeev. "This was one of the reasons why the army in the USSR was so huge: in peacetime, they were always ready for mobilization. But after 1991, these additional capacities were eliminated." Mobilization in modern Russia, if it happens in fact at all, will result in overcrowded military commissariates, unmotivated and inept soldiers who lack everything from shoes to provisions, and the use of weapons from the middle of the last century, writes Axe. This cannot lead to anything but huge losses ― and, accordingly, to the deterioration of the socio-political climate inside Russia. For most Russians, Putin has long played the role of a good tsar, but in connection with recent decisions, this image risks becoming a thing of the past. Evil tsars, and especially loser tsars, do not stay in power for long in Russia, concludes Axe. So, "a mobilization, more than any single battlefield success by Ukraine, might hasten the end of Putin’s rule ... and the end of the war, too."

An illustrated feature on animal rights activists in this war was published by the American public broadcaster NPR. It tells, in particular, about foreigners who, since the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, arrived at the Ukrainian border from the Polish side, helping Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war with domestic animals. One such volunteer, the Bulgarian Petya Petrova, stayed at the border until May ― and when her employer, PETA organization ordered her to return, she, on the contrary, resigned, crossed the border, moved to Kyiv and now helps animals affected by the war from the Ukrainian capital. She drives closer to the front line, delivers food to animals and transfers injured to vets, and also records crimes. The second part of the material is dedicated to Kharkivʼs Feldman Ecopark zoo, whose employees evacuated their wards under fire. In addition to the suffering of animals, the authors also describe the drama of ecopark workers. The shelling of the Russians killed several of them just during the evacuation. And not only adults: a 15-year-old boy, the son of zoo workers, also died. The publication publishes a photo of the correspondent Carol Guzy, who accompanied the ecopark volunteers for weeks. She also recorded the escape in a minibus from shelling during an attempt to save ostriches, and the attempt to save the surviving animals in May ― among the bodies or skeletons of already dead residents of the ecopark. And the wounding of 15-year-old Denys Shelevin, and the scene in the hospital, where two captured occupiers were also treated. The eyes of the occupiers were blindfolded ― but Denisʼs father tore off the bandage of one of them to show him hands in the blood of his son.