Capturing Soledar will be “an end to Russia’s failures.”

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The capture of Soledar is claimed by Moscow and denied by Kyiv, which recognizes the difficult stage of the war and the high intensity of the Russian attack. What are the stakes for Russia in this battle? Explanations of Cyril Bret, a researcher at the Jacques-Delors Notre-Europe Institute.

RFI: What are the stakes of this battle for Russia?

Cyrille Brett: Recapture of Soledar by Russian troops If proven, it would be the first real military success on the ground in six months for the Russian command, which has invaded what the Russians consider their stronghold. For them, it would have ended the setbacks they have faced since Ukraine’s counteroffensive began in August. And in any case, the authorities would like to present this as the first step towards an offensive this winter, especially in Donbass, a region absolutely strategic for the political project. Project soldier of the Putin presidency.

In fact, what is absolutely important for the Russian authorities is first to prevent failures and then to show that they are capable of bringing cities back, because most of the successes have been achieved in less important places, in less important regions. it is empty. It’s about showing that they’re capable of taking over even in less-than-ideal conditions.

Therefore, Moscow wants to mark a new speed in its attack on Ukraine. Does this fight bode well for a bigger attack in the coming months?

The political system, the administrative system, the economic system, and the Russian military system are in the process of being reorganized in order to carry out a major offensive in a few months in 2023: the transformation of the military command towards a more professional direction, as well as a significant development of state control in the management of the economic apparatus of change, decision circles. repositioning… With the return of patriarch Cyril to the scene within the clergy as well.

All of these economic, military, media, political, religious, or at least spiritual elements are declaring a protracted attack, a very hard attack, from mid-winter and spring to try to achieve what Russia has failed to achieve in 2022. This is a very bad sign for the civilian population of Ukraine.

In a rare gesture of recognition, the Russian military on Friday applauded the brave actions of fighters from the Russian mercenary group Wagner in Soledar. Everywhere in the media and in open competition with the Russian Ministry of Defense, the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigogine, does not hide his political ambitions…

The war in Ukraine and a series of military failures brought to light the taboo question of succession. For more than two decades, President Putin has been methodically striking down any dolphin that appears, and this crisis opens up opportunities for the expression of competition. We see this today with Yevgeny Prigogine, who, thanks to his private military company, presents himself as the one who reined in the failures of the Russian military.

Presents now [Wagner] no longer as an instrument of remote intervention in Syria, Libya, West Africa and Central Africa, but as a real component of the regular Russian army. And so he presents himself as the depository of Russian national security.

Yes, it is a time when competitions are opened, the first is to gain the trust of the leader, and the second is to position themselves as followers. And thus, if a personality emerges on the national stage and the international stage, it can create a rival to the president.

► Also read: War in Ukraine: “Frequent changes in Russian military command are not a sign that operations are going well”

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