Reports of Putin’s troubles are piling up

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York and condemned him, Russian President Vladimir Putin returned home in an effort to refuel his depleted war machine.

His foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, was conspicuously absent as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a scathing speech at the UN Security Council, documenting what he called Russia’s war crimes since February.

“If Russia stops fighting, the war will be over. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine will be over,” Blinken said, pledging to keep increasing US aid to Ukraine.

Russia’s military is divided as Putin is directly involved

CNN’s Katie Bo Lillis reported Thursday that Putin was directly instructing generals in the field, suggesting a level of micromanagement rare in modern warfare and evidence of the dysfunction in the Russian military that the war in Ukraine has exposed.

“There are major disagreements on strategy with military leaders struggling to agree on where to focus efforts to strengthen defense lines, multiple sources familiar with U.S. intelligence said,” according to Lillis. Read more about Lillis’ report.

Which Russians will be affected by this mobilization?

The cost to Russia is well documented, but these new reports on its citizens and prisons suggest a new chapter in militarization.

In a speech, Putin announced a “partial mobilization”. focused on reservists with prior military experience. But the fine print of his written decree raised doubts as to whether a capable person was forced to wear the uniform.

CNN’s international team noted: “The ultimate significance of the apparent disagreement remains unclear. And it remains to be seen whether the Kremlin has any appetite for a broader mobilization of the general civilian population.”

There is evidence that some Russians are not interested in waiting to see how far the mobilization will go.

CNN Travel reported on the surge in interest in flights out of Russia. Photos of long traffic lines at Russia’s land borders have suggested people are fleeing the country to Kazakhstan, Georgia and Mongolia.

Dragging more Russians into the war

“(Putin) has declared a de facto war on the home front, not only on the opposition and civil society, but also on Russia’s male population,” wrote Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author. Several books on Russian political and social history, in an essay on CNN Opinion. Read more reviews of Kolesnikov.

Russia cannot support the new troops

Conscripting people won’t solve Putin’s problems, according to a scathing analysis by CNN’s Brad Landon. Russia’s depleted military doesn’t have the training capacity or supplies for that many people.

“If they face Ukrainian weapons on the front lines,” Lendon wrote of the calls, “they may be the latest casualties of an invasion that Putin began more than seven months ago that has seen the Russian military fail. Almost every facet of modern warfare.”

Lendon cited the open-source intelligence website Oryx, which uses only confirmed losses with photo or video evidence to document Russia’s loss of more than 6,300 vehicles, including 1,168 tanks, since the fighting began.

Dissidents see progress

Nadya Tolokonnikova is a Russian dissident and founder of the activist and artist group known as Pussy Riot. He spent two years in a Russian prison and said this on CNN on Thursday it will be harder for the Russians to oppose Putin.

“I know very well the price of protesting in Putin’s Russia. And that price is growing every day, Putin is increasingly uncomfortable with his position in the geopolitical arena.”

But he said the movement against him is growing.

“Those who oppose Putin have real power, and that is the reason for Putin’s repression on us,” he said. “We are building (a) An alternative Russia with values ​​different from Putin’s. We want to be part of Western civilization.”

The crisis of democracies

Although the news out of Russia looks very bad for Putin and the news out of Ukraine suggests that the Ukrainian military continues to exceed all expectations, it is still hard to fathom a change in leadership there.

It is rooted, as we have written here before, until the government turns against it.

The same thing does not happen in democracies, where leaders come and go. So it’s worth checking out another geopolitical story from the UN meeting in New York perhaps, after all, one of the fragility of Western democracies.

In an exclusive US interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of this crisis.

“I think we have [a] The great crisis of democracies, what I would call liberal democracies. Let’s be clear about that. Why? First of all, because having open societies and open and very cooperative democracies puts pressure on your people. It can destabilize them,” Macron said.

As CNN’s Paul LeBlanc notes, “Macron’s comments echo President Joe Biden’s broader effort to redefine the 21st century global competition as defined by democracies versus autocracies.” Read more about Macron’s interview.