5 things that went pretty wrong for Russia this week

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine over the past four months has definitely not gone according to plan – and this week was arguably the least successful of them all.

Vladimir Putin reportedly thought he could seize Russia’s European neighbor relatively quickly, preventing Ukraine from joining closer to Western organizations such as NATO or the EU.

With troop morale depleted, a growing list of war crimes charges and several other key events this week, things don’t look like things are going to change in Putin’s favor anytime soon.

1. Ukraine becomes a candidate for the EU

A video of the EU flag being carried into the Ukrainian parliament was widely praised on social media on Friday.

It comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a joint statement showing that the government was united in its hopes of joining the trade bloc.

The European Council also granted Ukraine candidate status for EU accession on 23 June.

This is important because, despite his invasion, Putin wanted to bring Ukraine back into Russia’s sphere of influence rather than let it go to the West.

Instead, Russia is only becoming more isolated.

Putin claims he has “nothing against” Ukraine joining the EU, but the Kremlin has warned it will give Ukraine’s application to join “more consideration” with the bloc considering its own defense force.

It said: “The military, defense and security components are being discussed. We are of course keeping a close eye on it all.”

Zelenskyy has warned that Russia could retaliate against his request, working it out on Ukraine as well as other European countries.

2. Russia lost Snake Island

The Russian Defense Ministry announced it was withdrawing from Snake Island, a Ukrainian rock in the northwestern Black Sea.

It was seized by Russia on the first day of the invasion and is located along the main shipping routes to Odessa – currently under heavy attack by Russian forces – and adjacent ports.

Russian troops claimed this withdrawal was a “goodwill gesture” to prove it did not hinder Ukrainian grain exports (which has caused a food crisis in some parts of the world, although Ukraine said Moscow was still bombing its grain warehouses.

British Defense Ministry officials have pointed out that this is likely due to “the isolation of the garrison and increasing vulnerability to Ukrainian attacks”.

Snake Island pictured before the invasion

3. Finland and Sweden get closer to NATO

Rather than weakening Western alliances, Russia’s invasion has only made them stronger.

Finland and Sweden only applied to join NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) due to Russian aggression in Ukraine, after rethinking the military neutrality the region is known for.

Sweden has been neutral for over 200 years, while Finland became neutral after a brutal battle with the Soviet Union in World War II.

The main obstacle to their accession was Turkey, which opposed the pair’s accession due to their alleged willingness to host Kurdish militants. The countries could not join NATO unless they had the support of Turkey – new candidates need the support of all 30 existing member states.

But on Thursday, foreign ministers from all three countries signed a joint security pact to quell Turkey’s fears, and Sweden pledged to step up efforts to extradite suspected militants.

Finland and Sweden agreed to also lift their restrictions on arms sales to the country.

Putin warned on Thursday that Russia would respond in kind if NATO set up military infrastructure in Finland and Sweden. He also noted that Moscow’s relationship with the country would diminish as a result of their new membership.

Ukraine also had ambitions to join the military alliance, but those ambitions are thought to have been put on the back burner for the time being.

It was Ukraine’s membership in NATO that worried the Kremlin much before the war.

Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a security pact this week
Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a security pact this week

4. Ukraine starts sending power to the EU

Zelenskyy said on Friday that Ukraine is now launching power transmissions to Romania, meaning the country is cutting yet another ties with Russia.

Zelenskyy praised the move as “another important step in our move to the European Union”, but it also means Ukraine is no longer dependent on the Russian grid operator, showing how Europe is moving away from the country’s hydrocarbons.

As the President noted: “So this is not just a matter of export revenue for us, but a matter of security for all of Europe.

“Let me remind you that linking our country to the EU’s common energy system already happened after the war started.

“Ukraine is now doing things that once seemed impossible.”

Total trading capacity should reach 100 megawatts in phase one, but reportedly has the potential to reach 2.5 gigawatts.

5. Putin was mocked by the G7

Boris Johnson jokingly suggested that all G7 leaders take off their clothes to show that we are stronger than Putin at this week’s summit.

His Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau then joked that Western leaders might try to emulate Putin’s nude photos with a “bare-chested horseback riding show” — but judging by his reaction, Putin didn’t enjoy it.

During a visit to Turkmenistan on Thursday, he told reporters: “I don’t know how they wanted to undress, top or bottom. the waist. But I would at least find it a disgusting sight.”

He said in order to look good, “it is necessary to stop abusing alcohol and other bad habits, do physical exercise and do sports”.

Johnson also accused him of being the perfect example of “toxic masculinity” for his violent attempts to take over Ukraine.

Putin is known for trying to portray a macho image
Putin is known for trying to portray a macho image

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