Ed Carr

The Ukraine invasion has reached its most critical stage, according to a March 11 "Ukraine at War: Week Three" webinar sponsored by The Economist.

Vladimir Putin may be nearing his breaking point as his military is bogged down in a country that he claimed didn't exist. His troops are thwarted by a military that was supposed to run away from the mighty Russian army, said Arkady Ostrovsky, Russia/Eastern Europe correspondent of The Economist.

Russia's army has suffered 2,000 to 4,000 deaths, including three generals, since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. That compares to 15K deaths incurred by the Soviet Union in a decade of war in Afghanistan.

Russia faces strong opposition from the West and NATO has kept up a steady flow of Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft weapons that have been skillfully used by the Ukrainians.

More importantly, the Ukrainian people are united in their belief that their country can defeat the Russian military.

"It's a pretty bad story for Russia, which has been struggling to coordinate its attack," Shashank Joshi, defense editor. Russia isn't leaving Ukraine any time soon, but the military campaign has run out of steam. It's time to reset and regroup."

Sons, Brothers Won't Be Coming Home

While sanctions are upending Russia's economy, "people are also beginning to realize their sons and brothers won't be coming home from the war," Ostrovsky said.

Ed Carr, deputy editor, fears dark days ahead as Putin becomes more paranoid and anxious.

The Russian leader continues to maintain his "special military operation" is going as planned but a call has been put out for Syrian volunteers, Chechen fighters and members of the Wagner Group mercenary force to supplement Russia's army.

Carr noted that the blame game has begun in Moscow as two generals, who were involved in planning the invasion of Ukraine, have been put under house arrest.

Joshi said there'd been a subtle shift in Russian propaganda, which now accuses the Americans of helping the Ukrainians set up chemical weapons sites.

A desperate Putin could use that lie as a "false flag" to launch his own chemical attack on Ukraine. Chemical weapons haven't been used in Europe for more than 100 years.

A chemical attack could bring NATO into conflict with Russia, setting the stage for a nuclear showdown. President Biden has warned Russia that it would face severe consequences if it resorted to chemical warfare.

The Ukraine invasion has literally become a life and death situation for Putin, said Ostrovsky.

But as Russia's economy faces Armageddon and its army becomes more demoralized, who will deliver the message to Putin that his time is up?