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The view from the Kremlin is less bleak than we think

Putin: thinks he has time on his side. Sasha Mordovets/Getty

After 18 months of “horror in Ukraine”, says Simon Tisdall in The Observer, Western politicians “still don’t get it”. Specifically, they continue to assume the war will “eventually end in negotiations”. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is the latest to urge Europe to “kiss and make up” with Vladimir Putin. In the US, pressure to cut aid to Kyiv and force a peace settlement continues to grow. Yet this line of thinking presupposes that Vladimir Putin is actually willing to talk – “a highly questionable assumption”. Swing elections in Europe and the US which could work in his favour are not far away. Ukraine is making slow progress in its counter-offensive. And its drone strikes on Moscow appear to be rallying Russians behind the Kremlin, not against it. The Russian president “probably thinks he has time on his side”.

It’s not just Ukraine where Putin will see positives, says Walter Russell Mead in The Wall Street Journal. The Wagner Group has been busily undermining Western influence across Africa, fomenting unrest that will send refugees flowing north to Europe. In the Middle East, American allies like the UAE are deepening ties with Moscow. And despite Western hopes that Xi Jinping would “wash his hands of an ally turned rogue”, the Russia-China relationship remains strong: Beijing is “buying all the Russian oil and gas it can get its hands on”. Yes, the cost of the war will be high: Russia’s foreign-exchange reserves are dwindling, and the Yevgeny Prigozhin fiasco exposed “cracks in the Kremlin’s power structure”. But the view from Moscow is nowhere near as gloomy as Mr Putin’s opponents wish it was.