Latest reports have after Putin annexed four oblasts in Ukraine the Ukrainian military making numerous gains in several of those and simply on a major roll that seems very unlikely to be stopped or even slowed down all that much, short of Putin using nuclear weapons. First Lyman was taken, now the last town the Russians held in Kharkiv oblast was taken. Ukrainian troops appear to be closing fast on both Kreminna and Svatavoe in Luhansk (or Lugansk) oblast, with most of northern Luhansk likely to be conquered if those two are conquered, which now looks likely very soon.
Supporters of Putin have argued that losing territory in the northeast was one thing, and they have also claimed that the Ukrainians have suffered major losses in this run, although they fail to provide any evidence of that. But they have said that Putin is willing to fall back there as long as he holds clearly important Kherson in the south, where there has long been a standoff after Ukraine made some gains and long announced a major counteroffensive. Putin moved many troops from the northeast to Kherson to hold off that loudly advertised counteroffensive, and it seemed to be working. But apparently there has been a breakthrough there as well now, with a tank attack on the northern end of the Kherson front breaking through and the frontline pushed down about 25 miles and still moving, with movement also happening on the southern end of that front also.
It seems that the only place on the whole front where the Russians can make any favorable claims involves the weird case of Bakhmut in Donetsk oblast. There the Wagner Group has been trying to conquer it for the last three months, although it seems not to have much strategic importance in and of itself. But while they have failed to conquer it, they have managed to move forward a few meters from day to day, and apparently are continuing to do so, the only place this is happening on the entire front. This allows local TV in Russia to report on "gains," even though these gains seem not to ever lead to much of anything. Some speculate this odd campaign continues partly due to the boss of the Wagner Group, Prigozhin, is trying to increase his power in Moscow.
So we have the Russian position largely collapsing with Putin being humiliated by all this in the wake of his annexation of these territories where he is now massively losing territory. How are his supporters reacting to all this? Pretty badly, hysterically even.
I had not watched him for a long time, but I decided earlier this evening to watch one of his more prominent US supporters, Fox News's Tucker Carlson, whose show is the most watched on cable news I believe, even now. He is full in on supporting Putin and was coming across as indeed nearly hysterical this evening. There was no mention of any of these military gains by the Ukrainians, not a whisper.
Instead, he was all in on the Nordstream pipeline incident, charging that it "is obvious" that it was carried by the US, citing statements by SecState Blinken that and end to the Nordstream pipeline would be a "strategic blow" to Russia, not to mention emphasizing that Russia owns the pipeline. As it is, the US and the nations that use the pipeline have avoided making any specific accusations as indeed it is very difficult to prove or establish who might have done such a thing.
It is reported that the nearby nations suspect it was done by Russia. As it is, Nordstream I has been repaired. With that the Swedes were apparently about to investigate the sites of the explosions to look for evidence about what happened, but the Russians began pumping gas through it, which blocks that. Big surprise that Tucker Carlson had nothing to say about that.
His argument then segued into predicting that this supposed behavior by the US is going to lead to a nuclear war between the US and Russia, somehow never noting that it is Russia and Russia alone that is threatening to use nuclear weapons. He seems to accept that Putin's annexations are justified and that indeed Putin using nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be some justified self-defense. He reported with outrage on reports that the US might sink the Black Sea fleet if Russia uses nuclear weapons, with the US doing this without using nuclear weapons, although Carlson never noted this last point. This possibility of nuclear war is all due to the US, even as the US is not threatening the use of nuclear weapons at all, only Putin and various commentators in Russia.
I have to say that I was taken aback at the intensity of his outrage over all this, the US supposedly definitely responsible for the now all done pipeline incident, and this supposed danger of the use of nuclear weapons. I now understand why I see local people commenting in my local newspaper, the Harrisonburg Daily News Record, to the effect that not only is Russia winning the war, they deserve to win the war. This is a pretty astounding spectacle, but then most of these people also continue to believe the Big Lie of Trump that he actually won the 2020 presidential election, a lie Carlson also plays a major role in continuing to push.