Things look extremely gloomy to say the least.
Russia has been planning what the US has described as sham referendums in portions of eastern Ukraine in what is seen as a step toward annexing these territories.
“We know that these referendums will be manipulated,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre.
According to reports in the western media, Russia “will face major challenges” to mobilise 300,000 more people to its armed forces and that the country’s military will struggle to train and equip any new recruits.
Experts acknowledge that the true recruitment target of Vladimir Putin could be higher, but although some reports have suggested the Kremlin’s real goal is to mobilise 1million, the officials reiterated in a briefing that it was their belief it will be very hard for Russia to reach even 300,000.
Russia has already faced problems with training and equipment throughout the conflict so far.
The United States is prepared to impose additional economic costs on Russia in conjunction with American allies if Russia moves forward with Ukraine annexation, the White House announced.
Meanwhile, Finland announced that the government will prohibit Russian tourists from crossing its borders over the next few days. “The aspiration and purpose is to significantly reduce the number of people coming to Finland from Russia,” president Sauli Niinistö said in a broadcast.
The leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrial democracies have condemned Russia’s “sham” referendums, saying it was an attempt by Moscow to create a “phony” pretext for changing the status of Ukrainian sovereign territory.
NATO will ramp up its help for Kyiv in response to Russia’s “sham” referendums in occupied territories of Ukraine, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said.
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, with around 7.4 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced.
In a recent bilateral meeting with Russian leader Putin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for end of confrontation and said that this is not an era of war.