Where is the Russian attack after three months of fighting? Find answers by Luc Lacroix, France Televisions correspondent in Russia

Three months have passed since the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine at the end of February. Kremlin soldiers, Tuesday, May 24, intensified their attack on the last pocket of resistance in the eastern Luhansk region. “The next weeks of war will be difficult.”Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned the day before, while his army had been suffering for several days “difficulties” in Donbass.

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The conflict has already caused the deaths of several thousand civilians and soldiers in Ukraine, without it being possible to make an accurate assessment of the fighting. In Mariupol alone, a strategic southern port besieged by the Russians for several months, the Ukrainian authorities announced the deaths of 20,000 people. Some 234 children were killed and 433 others were injured, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office denounced on Tuesday.

How is the situation developing on the ground? What are the upcoming scenarios for the coming weeks? Three months after the attack began, France Télévisions’ correspondent in Russia, Luc Lacroix, answered your questions live from franceinfo.

@ Jeans: Do you think Russia can win the war?

Luke Lacroix: It all depends on what you mean “to win”. The initial target offered by Russia is “disarmament” and the “De-Nazification” from Ukraine. Today, it failed to overthrow the Kyiv government. It advanced into the Donbass, beyond what its pro-Russian allies controlled, and into southern Ukraine. What is difficult to know is what it will be able to show as a victory for its inhabitants, since the crushing of the Ukrainian army with the support of the West does not seem at hand today.

Ds: aAfter a counterattack in Kharkiv, it appears that the Ukrainians are no longer making any offensive gains. why ?

The weapons handed over by the West in recent months are a crucial asset to the Ukrainians, as is the assistance they receive with regard to intelligence. But in front of them is the bulk of the Russian troops. The latter deployed to the Kharkiv region and northern Donbass after withdrawing more than a month ago from northern Kyiv.

Gssa: Is it possible for Ukraine to win the war without losing part of its territory (other than Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014)?

Outside the Crimea, there is also the question of the part of Donbass already controlled by pro-Russian separatists: the “unilaterally proclaimed people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk. Vladimir Putin will not want to return these lands to Ukraine, because the situation of Russian speakers in the Donbass is another reason he puts forward to justify his intervention. [En termes de politique intérieure]It would be a real disdain for him. The same for Mariupol, which was not under the control of the separatists before February 24.

“The capture of Mariupol is the main victory that the Russians can claim so far.”

Luc Lacroix, France Télévisions correspondent in Russia

Finally, there is the question of the great strip in southern Ukraine, which connects Donbass and Crimea. At first, the Russians hinted that their presence there was only temporary. But we managed to go to Kherson a few days ago with the Russian army. Immediately, local officials appointed by the Russians told us that they wanted to associate with Russia. It’s hard to know the general feeling of the population but the few residents we were able to talk to told us that they wanted to stay in Ukraine.

@Jerome: How long can this conflict last?

Today, we have the impression that we are heading towards a protracted struggle. Although there are still movements in the northern Donbass, the lines [de front] They have generally been frozen for several weeks. Neither side is in a position to claim victory or admit defeat. On the part of the Ukrainian people or like the people of Vladimir Putin, the design is impeccable.

@Philip: Is it possible to estimate the Russian losses?

This is one of the major issues in this conflict. The Kremlin has not communicated since the end of March on this point. He then said there had been 1,351 deaths [parmi ses troupes]. The topic is very sensitive in Russia. The leaders all bear in mind the painful memory of the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed.

Western countries’ estimates of Russian losses in Ukraine: A French military source told AFP that about 15,000 people were killed. If so, then it is huge, because it corresponds to the total number of dead during the ten years of the war in Afghanistan.

@Indévokyga: In your opinion, is the nuclear threat posed by Russia real?

TheRussia blows hot and cold on this subject. Officially, she says that she does not want to use nuclear weapons, but hints from time to time that this is the case. This is reported by the Russian media.

“The Russians know very well that the use of nuclear power would be dramatic. But the fact that the West imagines it is possible, even if such a possibility seems very remote, gives the Kremlin leverage.”

Luc Lacroix, France Télévisions correspondent in Russia

Other than the use of nuclear weapons on Ukrainian soil, Russia may wish to demonstrate force by using them in the Arctic or in another region, with the aim of creating fear. Anyway, that’s what many experts mentioned a few weeks ago.

@Tony: Could this war spread to other countries?

We are very concerned about the fate of Moldova, where, as in Ukraine, there is a pro-Russian breakaway region, Transnistria. A few weeks ago, several incidents there raised fears of a fire.

Another concern was the possible involvement of Belarus directly in the conflict. It allowed Russia to use its bases and territory, but so far we have no evidence that it interfered directly.

As for the possibility that Russia wants to open another front with another country, that currently seems unlikely because a large part of its army is already massed in Ukraine. For their part, the West is delivering arms on a large scale to Ukraine but is careful not to intervene directly.

JJ: What would make Vladimir Putin bend?

So far, there has been no massive movement among the Russian population, among the elites, who seem to be able to challenge the power controlled by Vladimir Putin. Even international sanctions and their gradual impact on the Russian population and economy did not move it.

“One thing is certain: Vladimir Putin will seek at all costs to protect his power.”

Luc Lacroix, France Télévisions correspondent in Russia

One of his concerns is the stability of Russian power. It is difficult, nowadays, to know what could cause it to bend. Aside from a huge military defeat, but we’re not there at all.

JJ: Are sanctions against Russia effective?

Many international companies have withdrawn from Russia, either because their field of activity has been affected by sanctions, because of image problems or simply because they are no longer able to operate. Inflation is high in the country, due in particular to problems with supply and logistics. But thanks in particular to significant interventions by the Central Bank of Russia, there was no collapse of the ruble at this stage, quite the contrary.

meThere were also personal sanctions against those close to Vladimir Putin or those in power. All this has an effect, and is changing the country that is closing in on itself. For example, there are no longer air connections with many countries. But this did not change Vladimir Putin’s determination.

@Trago:What do we know about the level of information and support from the Russian people for what the Kremlin presents as a “special operation” in Ukraine ?

Regarding the level of information, I was still listening to Russian TV now and there is a lot of talk about the attack. But it is presented as an operation against those who are summoned “Nazis”. It is, of course, a completely different show than what we see at home.

As for the support of the population, its assessment in Russia is complicated. Experts say opinion polls are unreliable, especially on political issues like this. yI would say that there are three Russians: the Russians who clearly support this process, and who are often told by these messages on Russian television; Those who oppose it, and those who obtain information by other means such as [la messagerie] cable; Then there are those who don’t want to participate, who stay away from political topics, and focus on their loved ones and family.

These are very many. There is a kind of fatalism in the face of politics, which has long been seen as a risky thing. What I find difficult to assess is the weight of each of these three countries.

@D0m: Do you have difficulties, as a French journalist, to work in Russia? Were you arrested for your reporting?

We have never been arrested. There is now a law that punishes “false information” about the Russian armed forces with a maximum prison sentence. By itself, this should not concern us because we are not giving out false information. But everything really depends on what application of this law will be made.

“Last week, the Moscow office of Canadian television was closed. This is a context in which there is a lot of pressure on journalists, including Western journalists.”

Luc Lacroix, France Télévisions correspondent in Russia

Our priority is to respect the principles of journalism as always, but perhaps by explaining them more than usual: checking our information and our sources and respecting inconsistency. What’s complicated is that people are more reluctant than ever to talk to us. It was really hard before, and it’s even more difficult today.

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