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Russian partners like China and India expressing concern over Ukraine may have forced Putin’s hand and pushed him to try to end the war quickly, Russia expert says


Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo shaking hands ahead of their talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Friday September 16, 2022.Alexandr Demyanchuk, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo/Associated Press

  • Some of Putin’s global partners have expressed concerns about his war in Ukraine last week.

  • A few days later, Putin escalated the war by announcing military mobilization and threatening nuclear war.

  • A Russian expert told Insider that Putin may have acted out of fear of straining relations with countries like China and India.

Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated his unprovoked war on Ukraine this week, just days after some of his supposed partners publicly expressed doubts about it – and the events may well be linked.

Since invading Ukraine in February, Russia has been shunned by much of the world and faced crippling sanctions from the West. But as Russia increasingly isolated itself, some nations either backed Putin or avoided condemning him outright.

China and India have both been strong partners with Russia throughout the war, refusing to institute sanctions and continuing to buy the country’s energy products. However, the leaders of both countries recently took the rare step of speaking out against the war.

During a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan on September 15, Putin acknowledged that Xi had “questions and concerns” about the war. The following day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the war during a face-to-face meeting with Putin.

“I know that today’s era is not an era of war, and I told you about it on the phone,” Modi told Putin, Reuters reported.

Putin replied: “I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, and I know your concerns. We want this all to end as soon as possible.”

Less than a week later, on Wednesday, Putin said he was calling on 300,000 reservists to join the fight, which he had avoided doing for fear of backlash among the Russian people. The announcement, in which he also threatened to use nuclear weapons, came after Ukraine’s military made significant gains in recent weeks.

Experts told Insider it would take weeks or months before mobilized troops are trained, equipped and deployed. They also said Putin’s decision to take the step now showed how badly the war was going for Russia and how desperate the Russian leader was to turn the tide.

“The fact that Putin is doing this shows how much he feels the need right now to change the momentum, which has been all in favor of Ukraine,” said Daniel Treisman, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Angeles, whose work focuses on Russian politics and economics, Insider said.

As well as fearing another potential counterattack from Ukraine, Putin was likely also motivated by Xi and Modi concerns – and his fear of losing key partners – according to Robert English, a professor at the University of California du South studying Russia, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe.

“Evidence of criticism from allies like China or neutral states like India clearly put more pressure on him,” English told Insider. He added that the leaders of those nations appeared to have told Putin that they did not approve of the situation in Ukraine because it damaged their reputation on the world stage and cost them economically and politically.

English said what he suspected Putin had heard was: “‘Find a way to settle this quickly, to end this war, because we will not stand with you for another six months of this brutality.’ “

“He heard a message like that, so he’s trying to up the ante,” English said. “He’s trying to shift the military balance as best he can.”

If Putin has mobilized troops with the aim of ending the war as quickly as possible, as he assured Modi he would seek to do, it is not at all clear whether this will succeed.

“It is an unsatisfactory and inadequate response to motivation, manpower and material from the Ukrainian side,” English said, explaining that military aid and intelligence from the West gave the Ukraine an advantage on the battlefield. “It’s not going to do the job.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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