The mobilization of 300,000 Russian reservists was probably only the beginning. According to a report in the New York Times, Vladimir Putin has become much more actively involved in the Russian army’s war planning in recent weeks. The US newspaper refers to American officials.

According to this, Putin has forbidden his commanders to withdraw from the city of Cherson, which is still hotly contested. The Ukraine has already achieved initial successes in the region. Fighting continues in southern Cherson, but commanders reportedly wanted to retreat across the Dnipro River to protect equipment and lives.

The problem for Putin: Kherson was the first major city to fall under Russian control. If Ukraine recaptures the city completely, it would be a great victory for Ukrainian troops. And with it, at the same time, the next defeat for Putin, which would also have dealt a considerable blow to the current “referendum”.

According to the New York Times report, Putin has now even proceeded to tell his commanders that he would make strategic decisions himself. This is causing tension, not least because the ban on the withdrawal from Cherson has further weakened the already weak morale of the Russian soldiers.

In response to the withdrawal order, the Russians blew up a dam on the Inhulets River, only to watch as the Ukrainians destroyed their pontoon bridges across the Dnipro. Ukrainian officials say the Russians have been cut off from much of their supplies in the area.

Military analyst Seth G. Jones told the New York Times that this is making the situation in Cherson even more difficult for the Russians than before. “They have units there that if the Ukrainians break through the lines, they will be cut off and surrounded,” says the vice president of the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I can’t stress enough how precarious the situation is for her.”

That Putin is interfering in war planning is not entirely new. He is said to have played an active role in shaping the strategy from the start, and it was only when the Russians failed at Kyiv that he left the field to his generals.

According to the New York Times, US military expert Michael Kofmann says: “In this war there has been a constant mismatch between Putin’s political goals and the military means to achieve them. At key decision points, Putin has hesitated, refusing to acknowledge reality until the odds have worsened.”

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The Ukraine war has reached a new level of escalation. The Ukrainian offensive and the partial mobilization of Russia have increased the risk of a third world war. The task now is to campaign for peace from a position of strength. The West must also persuade the Ukrainian President to give in.