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Further Escalation

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The war between Russia and Ukraine has entered a new phase with the killing of Daria Dugina, daughter of Aleksander Dugin, the nationalist philosopher known as “Putin’s Brain”. The conflict will, whatever its outcome, become a classic study for experts in the days to come for having all the elements of war strategy. It is largely believed that the explosion in Daria’s car was actually meant for her father, but little has become known about who carried out the attack. The Russian media and official sources are accusing Ukraine of carrying out the act. This has naturally been denied by Ukraine.

There is no doubt that this will lead to escalation of the conflict into counter assassination attempts and other unconventional strikes. There will be greater resort to this, the more the militaries of both countries fight each other to a standstill. At the same time, however, it cannot be ruled out that the car bomb, if it was that, could have been the result of some group within Russia trying to bring down President Vladimir Putin, or at least weaken him by taking out a senior adviser and ideologue.

Already, the established conventions of war have been violated by both sides, but particularly the Russians. The latest is a move by the Russians to try Ukrainian soldiers in full media gaze, denying them their rights as prisoners of war. Mercenaries and various militias are being used in the war, which has meant an increased level of atrocities against civilians. Like all autocratic regimes, Russia has not acknowledged the deaths of its soldiers, which is believed to be in the tens of thousands, many of them conscripts. However, the ordinary people, whose sons and daughters are being killed, are in the know and resentment is building up. It would be no surprise if a political undercurrent against the war and Putin is building up.

The world has not acknowledged Putin’s claims of Russian sovereignty over Ukraine. Even old friends like India are maintaining a careful neutral stance. In that context, Russia is on the wrong side of history. There has been a lot of speculation in the western media about Putin’s health and it is being hoped that he will succumb to whatever ails him. Maybe those who take over after him will be more pragmatic and step back from the brink. This much is certain – as long as he is alive, Putin is not going to acknowledge how badly he has miscalculated on Ukraine.