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Russia is searching for a defensive position it can hold. So far, it’s tough going. The NYT has a fantastic map / explainer:
Russia has fallen back into a defensive position, trying to use the Oskil River as a defensive barrier. But Ukrainians have already breached a few points along the river, and the area is “ripe for exploitation,” said George Barros, an analyst for the Institute for the Study of War.
That’s a problem. And the defensive line is long enough that Russia is going to be hard pressed to cover it all. Meaning that the Ukrainian intelligence advantage could, once again, be determinative.
Here is a thing you do not see in successful war efforts: The supreme leader announces a “partial mobilization.” And immediately, his subjects start trying to flee the country:
Ticket prices skyrocketed amid apparent fears that Russia's borders could soon close or that Putin might announce a general mobilization. . . .
Air Serbia, the only European carrier besides Turkish Airlines to maintain flights to Russia despite a European Union flight embargo, saw tickets for the Moscow-Belgrade flight quickly sell out for the next several days, while the price for flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai reached as much as 9,200 euros ($9,119) for a one-way, economy-class fare.
A Belgrade-based group called Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Serbs Together Against War tweeted that there were no available flights to Belgrade from Russia until mid-October. It said flights to Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia also sold out.
Oh: And Russian elites keep having terrible random accidents. This poor guy slipped on Tuesday:
Anatoly Gerashchenko, the former head of Moscow’s Aviation Institute (MAI), died in a mysterious fall inside the institute’s headquarters in the Russian capital on Tuesday.
The organization’s press office released a statement describing the 73-year-old’s death as “the result of an accident” . . .
Russian news outlet Izvestia, citing an unnamed source, reported that Gerashchenko “fell from a great height” and careened down several flights of stairs. He was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene.
Terrible luck. Same sort of thing happened to Russian executive Ivan Pechorin a couple weeks ago:
A Russian executive tasked with helping to oversee development in the country’s Far East died in a bizarre fall from a moving boat just days after attending an economic forum with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And don’t forget Ravil Maganov, the Russian oil exec who was in the hospital and managed to fall out of the window of his room.
It’s becoming harder to see this ending with Putin still in power.
BTW, if you missed last week’s Thursday Night Bulwark we had an excellent deep dive with Cathy Young and Eric Edelman about Ukraine and Russia. It’s very much worth your time. Watch the replay here.