What to make of the latest reports from Russia

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Get out of Russia is the warning issued by the US embassy to Americans.

It’s not such a warning to Americans abroad, but it comes with new urgency as Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking for bodies to fight in the war against Ukraine.

“Russia may refuse to recognize dual nationals as U.S. citizens, deny them access to U.S. consular assistance, prevent them from leaving Russia, and possibly prevent dual nationals from military service,” the alert said.

Americans accustomed to an open society should be very careful in Russia, according to the embassy, ​​which warns that “the right to assembly and freedom of expression are not guaranteed in Russia.”

The warning comes as an option at a border control Russian men trying to flee the country will receive conscription papers.

Meanwhile, Western leaders suspect sabotage of the leaks found in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines into the Baltic Sea.

It should have been known. A US warning to European allies, including Germany, this summer that the Nord Stream pipeline could be threatened or attacked now seems prophetic. Read more from CNN’s Natasha Bertrand and Katie Bo Lillis.

The pipelines that were built to deliver Russian gas to Europe have come under fire in the energy war between Europe Union and Russia.

Western countries suspect sabotage and CNN reports that “seismologists detected underwater explosions near the pipelines on Monday, but it is unclear whether they are connected to the leaks.”

Although there is some mystery surrounding the status of the pipeline, the military call proves to have a strong resonance around Russia.

Watch this video report from CNN’s Matthew Chance. Buses are shown picking up the destitute in the middle of the night while wives and mothers wail in the back. It shows images from Dagestan, in southern Russia. Rights groups told Chance that ethnic minorities in remote regions are being targeted by the call.

Dagestan is a Muslim-majority area and CNN also has a report on the protests that have erupted there.

The best thing I’ve read about the situation in Russia in recent days comes from CNN’s Nathan Hodge.

He wrote in an analysis that there was essentially a social contract between Putin and the Russians. Putin provided stability and Russian voters would stay out of politics.

That social contract can be broken, he argued, pointing to mile-long lines of fleeing Russians at the border, the country’s protests documented on social media and the scantily clad Russian military.

It was the fury of the first Chechen war, which included conscription, that brought Putin to power. Hodge noted that Putin needed to professionalize the military, but contemporary images of chaos and protest resemble the unruly post-Soviet era.

Hodge: Recent protests against Putin’s partial mobilization are a reminder that the draft remains the third rail in Russian political life. During Sunday’s anti-mobilization protests in the regional capital of Dagestan’s North Caucasus region, Makhachkala, women were captured on social media videos confronting police, saying: “Why are you taking our children? Who attacked whom? It’s Russia that attacked Ukraine!”

There is a question, however, whether anger will be directed at local officials rather than Putin.

More Hodges: It’s reminiscent of an old trope of the “good tsar” and the “evil boyars” in Russian history. The Tsar – in this case, Putin – is seen as a wise and great (albeit distant) ruler, and his subordinates and low-level officials are to blame for undermining his good intentions. They, not the ruler, are the target of popular anger.

Now that the Russian authorities in the four Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine have held fake referendums – which Ukraine and Western governments have said are illegal and the votes unreliable – Putin can now see the occupied areas of Ukraine as Russia.

Awesome votes He denies any belief in joining Russia, especially after a pre-war poll conducted exclusively by CNN found that only 18% of Eastern Ukrainians supported it, among other things. The regions of Luhansk and Donetsk believed that Ukraine and Russia should be one country. CNN’s Rob Picheta wrote that some of the votes were reported to have been taken literally at gunpoint.

He added that Ukraine fears that Russia will now start conscripting Ukrainians from these regions into the Russian military. Read the full story.

Backed into a corner of his own making, the US is increasingly worried that Putin will become more unconventional in his war and resort to a tactical nuclear attack.

Putin’s tough talk and threats last week have heightened U.S. concerns that Putin might resort to such actions, but Lillis and Bertrand wrote in a separate report that U.S. defense officials “see no signs of Russia moving nuclear weapons at this time.” And, yes, the US thinks they can detect the movement of small tactical heads.

“Officials have long believed that Putin would resort to nuclear weapons only if there was a threat to his position, or if he perceived an existential threat to Russia, which he might consider a loss in Ukraine,” Lillis and Bertrand. he wrote

CNN Opinion spoke to former British Army officer and former UK and NATO Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Forces Commander Hamish de Bretton-Gordon about what a nuclear situation might look like.

He explained the difference between large missiles of strategic nuclear weapons – “Armageddon” – and tactical nukes, smaller warheads that can still cause a lot of damage and, if fired at a nuclear power plant, contamination. Read the full interview.

Vehicles mounting these tactical weapons will be in poor condition, de Bretton-Gordon said, and may even be unusable.

From Bretton-Gordon: The most likely nuclear scenario, in my opinion, is a Russian attack on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant. This could have the same effect as a tactical nuclear explosion, but would be easier for the Russians to deny, as they accuse Ukraine of deliberately bombing their power plants.

He also pointed out that local Russian commanders under Putin may use such weapons to defend the Russian homeland, and Russia is in the process of claiming occupied parts of Ukraine.

Putin is still unlikely to cross the red line of nuclear action, but de Bretton-Gordon argued that the West and NATO should call “Putin’s bluff” now and push forward with negotiations, while Putin is weak and Russia is on edge.