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A Russian service member stands next to a mobile recruitment center for military service under contract in Rostov-on-Don.

REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov

The script for conscripts: Inside Putin’s (partial) mobilization

Russia is raising the stakes in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s call for the partial mobilization of Russian reservists — along with holding referenda in occupied parts as well as threatening to use nuclear weapons — has come in the wake of his troops suffering stunning losses at the hands of Kyiv. While the referenda are expected to be sham votes, and nukes are way up the escalation ladder, the mobilization edict is the most immediate of Putin’s three latest moves.

It’s also already affecting the cost, politics, and operations of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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Putin Cornered| Quick Take | GZERO Media

Putin cornered

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. I wanted to talk to you for a couple of minutes about the staggering news that's come out over the last 24 hours from President Putin on the Russian war in Ukraine. He gave a big speech announcing, among other things, referenda for annexation of Ukrainian territory into Russia, a mobilization of Russian civilians to fight in the Ukrainian war, and threatening even nuclear strikes against those that decide to come against attack Russian territory.

I want to take all of this in order to talk about what it means for you briefly. First of all, very important point that Putin has been trying to avoid taking these measures for months now. Remember, it's a special military operation according to Putin. It's not a war. You can get up to 15 years in prison in Russia if you call it a war. He's not been performing well on the ground militarily. They sent in 190,000 troops to begin with back in February. They tried to take Kyiv. They failed. They tried to overthrow Zelensky. They failed. They lost a lot of territory. They then narrowed the scope of military operations to the land bridge from Russia into Crimea and also the extended Donbas.

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An Iranian woman living in Turkey, Istanbul, after she cut her hair during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini.

Reuters

What We're Watching: Iran protests spread, Putin mobilizes, NY sues Trumps, China faces slow growth

Iranian protests swell

Protests across Iran have now spread to 15 cities – and countries including Turkey, the US, and Germany – after a 22-year-old woman was apprehended and beaten to death by the Islamic Republic’s morality police. Mahsa Amini, from the western Kurdish region, was arrested in Tehran last week for failing to comply with the regime’s stringent hair-covering requirements. She died in custody last Friday. Women around the country have responded by burning their headscarves and cutting their hair in public displays of opposition to the oppressive treatment of women. What’s more, the hacker collective “Anonymous” has thrown its support behind the protests, which have led to at least three deaths and dozens of injuries. “Anonymous” says it hacked two government websites, including one focused on publishing government news (propaganda). Iranian officials claim the young woman died in custody from preexisting conditions and that it was investigating the case. But they also blamed foreign countries and opposition groups for the growing unrest. Meanwhile, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi heads back to Tehran on Thursday after addressing the UN General Assembly in New York. We’re watching to see whether the crackdown on protesters, the biggest since the 2009 Green Movement was violently quashed by Iranian forces, will intensify once Raisi is out of the international spotlight.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni walk during their meeting in Entebbe.

REUTERS/Isaac Kasamani

Russia and the West battle it out in Africa

Russia’s brutal military offensive may be taking place in Europe, but the battle to shore up support for its cause is now playing out in … Africa.

Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, is currently on a tour to reassure African allies of Moscow’s commitment to alleviating the global food crisis.

But Lavrov is not to be outdone by French President Emmanuel Macron, who is also on a three-nation tour in Central and West Africa. Washington, meanwhile, has sent an envoy to Ethiopia and Egypt.

Russia, the EU, and US have long tried to court developing countries in bids to expand their respective spheres of influence. But as war rages on in Europe, why the intense focus on Africa now?

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The Goals of the West & Putin | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Authoritarian Russia's lies and the risk of escalation against NATO

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here. And a Quick Take for you starting off the week. Once again, we're 10 weeks in and I wish I had something, anything good to say about the war in Ukraine. I'll find something for you by the end of this, but most of the signals are really heading negatively and very quickly.

The Russians are taking more territory in Donetsk and Luhansk, the focus of this second phase of their special military operations as they call it. The Ukrainians, having said that, are ramping up their attacks inside Russia. And we're seeing a lot of sabotage, a lot of fires, some strikes across the border. One of the explosions in a tank regiment was outside of Moscow. So this isn't coming from Ukraine directly, but maybe it's sympathizers inside Russia.

We're not, of course, hearing anything from the Russian government explaining any of this, nor should we expect to. Looks like the Russian army chief of staff was actually injured by a Ukrainian strike while he was on the front lines, but on the Russian side.

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Podcast: Examining Putin: his logic, mistakes, and hope for Ukraine

Listen: Not much has gone right for Vladimir Putin since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. Ian Bremmer speaks to political scientist and author Ivan Krastev, who believes Putin has the autocrat's curse: his back is against the wall because he can't be perceived as weak. Krastev unpacks many of Putin's problems, including his expectations about the "special operation" and how badly he misread Ukrainians. Why did Putin miscalculate so deeply? Krastev offers three explanations: Putin never accepted that the Soviet Union collapsed because communism did; he thought the West was in such decline that he'd get away with the invasion; and a sense that time is running out, because the 70-year-old Putin wants to fix all of Russia's problems in his lifetime.

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A Ukrainian service member walks near a school building destroyed by Russian shelling in Zhytomyr, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

What We're Watching: Russia's consolidation in eastern Ukraine, Shanghai's grueling lockdown

Bracing for worse in Ukraine. As Russia consolidates its forces around the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, military analysts now warn that the most violent stage of the conflict still looms. Russian forces have been trying to consolidate gains in the country’s southeast, particularly in the Russian-occupied province of Luhansk, and using “scorched earth” tactics in cities like Izyum. The Pentagon has warned that Russia’s withdrawal from other cities, including the capital Kyiv, to focus intensively on the southeast could present new challenges for the Ukrainian military. The different terrain, for example, could make it harder for Ukraine’s troops to carry out the guerilla-style operations that have been successful until now. Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s assault in the east intensified on Sunday, with Russians striking an airport in the city of Dnipro, just days after dozens of Ukrainians were killed in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, where Russia fired missiles at a railway station. The UN now says some 4.5 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee the country.

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A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by a Russian air strike in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Ukraine National Police/Handout via REUTERS

What We're Watching: Ukrainian city under siege, Ripple Effects, Afghan railway

Zelensky calls hospital strike in Mariupol an ‘atrocity’

Children and mothers fall victim. On Wednesday, Russian bombs and missiles ravaged the strategic Black Sea port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, just 35 miles from the Russian border. In one of the war’s most gruesome moments thus far, a children’s hospital and birthing center were badly damaged by munitions, reportedly killing two adults and one child and injuring several others. A Ukrainian official said the attack occurred during an agreed-upon ceasefire with Russia. The town’s administrative center was also badly damaged. If the city falls, Russia would have all but established a “land bridge” to Crimea.

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