Putin’s miscalculation: Russia underestimated the Ukrainians’ resolve Western backlash, experts say


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Russian President Vladimir Putin underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian resistance as well as the harsh backlash from the United States Western allies when he invaded Ukraine last month, experts tell Fox News. 

The U.S. continued piling sanctions on Russia Tuesday, implementing a ban on oil imports from the country in what President Biden called “another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.”

“Putin miscalculated the Ukrainians’ willingness to fight, the leadership style willingness to die for the cause of [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy,” Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital. She said he also miscalculated “the backlash of Western audiences, Europeans, Americans, even a segment of the Russian population who are anti-war.”

RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE: LIVE UPDATES

Zelenskyy, who has already survived three assassination attempts, vowed to stay in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as Russian forces lay siege to the city, even going so far as to reveal his location in a defiant message on Monday. 

“On Bankova Street,” Zelenskyy said Monday, referring to where presidential offices are located. “Not hiding, I’m not afraid of anyone.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law legislation that could punish journalists with up to 15 years in prison for reporting so-called “fake” news about his military invasion of Ukraine.       
(Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via AP )

Unarmed Ukrainian civilians have confronted Russian soldiers as thousands of foreigners have traveled to Eastern Europe to help the Ukrainian army defend the country. 

RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR: INTEL OFFICIALS PREDICT ‘UGLY’ WEEKS AHEAD AS PUTIN DOUBLES DOWN

As the Russian military attempts to take Ukrainian cities, unprecedented sanctions on Russian banks, oligarchs, industries could challenge Putin domestically. 

“The sanctions could make it very difficult to govern Russia, in the sense that people’s savings have been wiped out, factories will start to close, there are fewer high-tech imports that are needed for the Russian economy. And obviously, the financial elite has taken a real beating,” Timothy Frye, the professor of post-Soviet foreign policy at Columbia University, told Fox News Digital. 

In this March 8, 2022, image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office posted on Instagram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine. 

In this March 8, 2022, image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office posted on Instagram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine. 
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Companies started pulling out of Russia almost as soon as Putin invaded, both due to Western sanctions to their disapproval of the war. Food giants Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Pepsi joined the withdrawal on Tuesday. 

“At some point, Putin, who has long been averse to any kind of domestic political instability, might fear the reaction from the elite from the mass public, begin to look for a way out of this situation, but we’re not there yet,” Frye said. “It could take a while before we get there.”

PUTIN MAINTAINS 95% OF AVAILABLE COMBAT POWER IN UKRAINE AS WAR PERSISTS, DOD OFFICIAL SAYS

Putin, a former KGB officer known for his ruthless information warfare tactics, also failed to take into account how a war would play out in 2022. 

“[Putin] didn’t anticipate how technology has brought this conflict into the homes of ordinary people all over the world, by virtue of it unfolding on our TVs on our computer screens,” Koffler said. “He was counting on the fact that he could keep it hidden, not only from the Russian people, but also from the rest of the world. Well, it’s no longer the case.” 

Russian authorities have cracked down on dissent over the last two weeks, blocking independent foreign news outlets while shutting off access to social media platforms like Twitter Facebook. 

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While Putin still has control over the flow of information at home it is difficult to get a pulse on public opinion in Russia, Frye said the tide could turn. 

“The message will slowly get through, particularly if the military gets bogged down significantly,” Frye said. “This is an extraordinarily volatile time, I think, in Russian public opinion towards the war.”



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WATCH: Ukrainian delivers food, medicine in Kyiv, says city is ‘not afraid,’ ‘ready to fight’


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When missiles first hit Ukraine, like many Kyiv residents, Oleksandr Prokhorenko’s first reaction was to run hide.

But something stopped him. 

“I thought to myself: ‘Who am I if I’m going to leave these people?'” Prokhorenko told Fox News while walking through the center of Kyiv.

“You can not imagine how many people are in need,” Prokhorenko said.

FORMER UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR ON PUTIN’S KILL LIST CALLS ON BIDEN, AMERICA ‘TO BE LEADER OF THE WORLD’

That’s why he decided to stay in the country’s capital, where he was born raised. Prokhorenko, who owns several Kyiv restaurants, has spent the last several days delivering food medicine to sheltering Ukrainians, including cancer patients the elderly.

“You can run, but you never will escape yourself,” Prokhorenko said.

A family Prokhorenko helped in Kyiv, Ukraine
(Oleksandr Prokhorenko )

Russia invaded Ukraine nearly two weeks ago. Prokhorenko said he’s been inspired by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s leadership. Zelenskyy has also vowed to stay in Kyiv. 

In this March 8, 2022, image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office posted on Instagram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine.

In this March 8, 2022, image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office posted on Instagram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Zelenskyy filmed a video Monday from his Kyiv office saying “I’m not hiding” “not afraid of anyone.” In a speech Tuesday, Zelenskyy said, “we will fight till the end, at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost.”

A volunteer cuts bread in Kyiv, Ukraine

A volunteer cuts bread in Kyiv, Ukraine
(Oleksandr Prokhorenko)

“Today I had only six volunteers” “we delivered 25 portions of packed food to old people who are alone,” the restaurateur said.

A woman Prokhorenko helped in Kyiv, Ukraine

A woman Prokhorenko helped in Kyiv, Ukraine
(Oleksandr Prokhorenko)

He said he delivered “medicine to women with children, people ill with cancer.” Prokhorenko told Fox News the “eyes” of those receiving his help “saying thank you” were indescribable. 

Prokhorenko said Ukrainians' reactions to receiving food were indescribable

Prokhorenko said Ukrainians’ reactions to receiving food were indescribable
(Oleksandr Prokhorenko)

Prokhorenko uses Instagram to help connect people with different items they need. Soon, many people started reaching out to him, asking for other tasks.

“Can you do this, can you do this?” Prokhorenko quoted.

Prokhorenko said he has delivered medicine to women their children

Prokhorenko said he has delivered medicine to women their children
(Oleksandr Prokhorenko)

“As long as I’m here, I will never stwatch. I will help,” he said.

Prokhorenko delivering food to people in Kyiv

Prokhorenko delivering food to people in Kyiv
(Oleksandr Prokhorenko)

Prokhorenko couldn’t find the words to describe how people still living in Kyiv felt. 

“It’s pain, anger, fear, courage,” he said. “There should be a word for this feeling.”

WATCH:

“I wouldn’t wish for anyone to feel what we feel now,” Prokhorenko continued.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire after a chemical warehouse was hit by Russian shelling on the eastern frontline near Kalynivka village on March 08, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire after a chemical warehouse was hit by Russian shelling on the eastern frontline near Kalynivka village on March 08, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

While Kyiv remains under Ukrainian control, its suburbs have increasingly seen indiscriminate Russian attacks.

Ukrainian police officers help a woman fleeing as the artillery echoes nearby in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. 

Ukrainian police officers help a woman fleeing as the artillery echoes nearby in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

“The whole city is prepared to give a fight,” Prokhorenko told Fox News while walking through deserted streets.

“I don’t want to do this, but if someone threatens my independence, my people, then yes I’m ready to take a gun to protect,” he told Fox News. “Not to kill but to protect. This is the difference between us.”

Russia is “trying to invade. They’re killing our women, they’re killing our children, killing civilians, destroying … everything we built,” Prokhorenko said.

Prokhorenko called on Russians to take greater action to stop Putin. Some of his friends from Moscow have asked him: “‘What should we do?'”

Prokhorenko’s response: “What should you do? Go on the streets, our people are stopping tanks with their bodies because they are not afraid.”

“Russian people are afraid to be beaten. We are not afraid, we are not afraid,” he told Fox News.

“We are ready to fight. If I have to fight, I’ll fight.”

Members of the Ukrainian military arrive to reinforce a forward position on the eastern frontline near Kalynivka village on March 08, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Members of the Ukrainian military arrive to reinforce a forward position on the eastern frontline near Kalynivka village on March 08, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The Kyiv local also pleaded for the world to do more.

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“Everybody should know that the third world war has started,” Prokhorenko said. “And we all have to stop it, not just us. We are all in danger.”

Prokhorenko said he felt the “whole world is helping us” “standing behind us,” but asked that countries send more weapons provide greater funding. He also asked for NATO to impose a no-fly zone for the U.S. to send troops.

As he pointed his camera to a gothic building in Kyiv, Prokorenko hoped, “one day,” everyone would be able to come to Ukraine “see how beautiful our people,” “our capital” “everything about this country is.”



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Do not sabotage Iran deal with new conditions, West tells Russia


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Western powers on Tuesday warned Russia against wrecking an almost completed deal on bringing the United States Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord, as Iran’s top negotiator was set to return from consultations in Tehran.

Eleven months of talks to restore the deal which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program have reached their final stages.

REPUBLICANS TROUBLED BY ONGOING TALKS TO REVIVE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL: ‘RUSSIA SHOULD NOT BE AT ANY TABLE’ 

But they have been complicated by a last-minute demfrom Russia for guarantees from the United States that Western sanctions targeting Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine would not affect its business with Iran. 

Iran’s new President-elect Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, on Monday.
(AP Photo)

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nulsaid Russia was seeking to reap extra benefits from its participation in the effort to restore the nuclear agreement, but it will not succeed.

“Russia is trying to up the ante broaden its demands with regard to the (nuclear deal) we are not playing ‘Let’s make a deal’,” Nuland, the No. 3 U.S. diplomat, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Iran’s top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani is due back in Vienna on Wednesday after unexpectedly returning to Tehran on Monday for consultations, an Iranian a European official said.

The talks’ coordinator, Enrique Mora of the European Union, said on Monday the time had come for political decisions to be taken to end the negotiations.

“The window of opportunity is closing. We call on all sides to make the decisions necessary to close this deal now, on Russia not to add extraneous conditions to its conclusion,” Britain, France Germany said in a joint statement to the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors.

Iran has sought to remove all sanctions it wants guarantees from the United States that it will not abandon the agreement once more, after then-U.S. President Donald Trump walked out of the deal in 2018 reimposed sanctions.

Diplomats have said until now that several differences still needed to be overcome in the talks, including the extent to which sanctions on Iran, notably its elite revolutionary guards, would be rolled back what guarantees Washington would give if it were to again renege on the deal.

Satellite photo provided from Planet Labs Inc. shows Iran's Natanz nuclear facility. 

Satellite photo provided from Planet Labs Inc. shows Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. 
((Planet Labs via AP))

Two Western officials said there was now a final text on the table those issues had been resolved.

While they couldn’t rule out further last-minute surprises, they said the last big open question was whether Russia’s demands were manageably narrow limited to nuclear cooperation spelled out in the agreement, as Moscow’s envoy to the talks has told other parties, or much broader, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described them.

RUSSIA TIES POSSIBLE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL REVIVAL TO UKRAINE SANCTIONS

“We are very close to an agreement. It is essential we conclude while we still can,” France’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters in a daily briefing.

“We are concerned by the risks that further delays could weigh on the possibility of concluding,” she said.

COMMON INTEREST

Moscow threw the potential wrench in the works on Saturday, just as months of indirect talks between Tehran Washington in Vienna appeared to be headed for an agreement, with Lavrov saying the Western sanctions over Ukraine had become a stumbling block for the nuclear deal.

The EU’s Mora Russia’s top negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov held talks in Vienna on Tuesday evening, exchanging views on the “current developments way ahead,” Moscow’s envoy said on Twitter.

Western officials say there is common interest in avoiding a nuclear nonproliferation crisis, they are trying to ascertain whether what Russia is demanding regards only its commitments to the Iran deal. That would be manageable, but anything beyond that would be problematic, they say.

The new agreement would lead to Russia taking in excess highly enriched uranium that would be taken out of Iran to bring Tehran back into compliance with the original deal’s caps on the purity amount of the enriched uranium it is stockpiling. 

Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war

Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war
(Reuters)

Rosatom, a state-run company formed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007, is key to that has still not been added to Western sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken played down the issue during a visit to Estonia on Tuesday said Russia the United States still shared a desire to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

European negotiators from France, Britain, Germany had already temporarily left the talks as they believed they had gone as far as they could go it was now up to the two main protagonists to agree on outstanding issues.

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Additional reporting by Dubai Newsroom, Simon Lewis Andrius Sytas in Tallinn; Writing by John Irish Dominic Evans; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Nick Macfie Richard Pullin



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Americans donate body armor, ammunition for Ukraine


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When Texas marketing executive Bret Starr asked colleagues in Ukraine what they needed after Russia’s invasion, he got a surprise.

“You know, it was guns, bullets body armor,” said Starr, for whom Respect.Studio in western Ukraine provides social marketing services. 

A Belarusian volunteer speaks by phone as he receives military training at the Belarusian Company base in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Hundreds of Belarus’ emigrants citizens have arrived in Ukraine to help the Ukrainian army fight against Russian invaders. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The young digital marketers at Respect.Studio, part of Ukraine’s huge technology services-outsourcing sector, said they were organizing a territorial defense squad.

The Fort Worth businessman knew he could not send guns, but he discovered he could legally ship body armor helmets.

Starr expects to send the first 20 sets of helmets bullet-proof vests to Respect.Studio this week, followed by up to 2,000 more through donations of cash gear.

UKRAINE SAYS IT SANK THE RUSSIAN WARSHIP THAT ATTACKED SNAKE ISLAND: ‘WE F——HIT THEM!” 

“We’re worried about the people that we’ve been on video calls with for two years,” said Starr, who owns The Starr Conspiracy marketing agency.

He is among Americans collecting thousands of sets of body armor, pledging millions of rounds of ammunition even trying to donate guns in response to Ukraine’s pleas for military aid. 

A joint funeral takes place at 'Saint's Peter Paul Garrison Church', for two soldiers who died in the east of the country during recent fighting

A joint funeral takes place at ‘Saint’s Peter Paul Garrison Church’, for two soldiers who died in the east of the country during recent fighting
(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

“Volunteers here raise funds to buy the needed (body) armor, but there’s a lack of supply,” said Oleksii Sysak, a LinkedIn specialist marketer at Respect.Studio in Lviv, Ukraine.

“I NEED AMMUNITION”

American donors are running into U.S. foreign export licenses requirements for equipment like modern bulletproof vests, firearms ammunition.

Some are partnering with Ukrainian relief groups to get past export hurdles.

Starr is shipping his vests through the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council, a non-profit group that is licensed to do so, he said.

In New York state, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office on Monday gave around 450 pieces of body armor to the Long Island-Ukraine Emergency Response Drive.

Remington Ammunition, other units of U.S. company Vista Outdoor (VSTO.N), on Friday said they would donate one million rounds of ammunition to the Ukraine Armed Forces.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR: RUSSIAN NUCLEAR THREAT ‘LIKELY INCREASING,’ US INTEL OFFICIALS SAY

Ammo Inc CEO Fred Wagenhals on Tuesday said Ukraine had approved his company’s donation of one million rounds, which were in Poland.

The Arizona munitions company made the offer after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy famously quipped, “I need ammunition, not a ride,” in response to a U.S. evacuation offer. 

A member of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces during training

A member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces during training
(Photographer: Ethan Swope/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“So we sent him ammo,” said Wagenhals. And in what may be the United States’ only gun drive for Ukraine, New York’s Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has launched a bid to collect semi-automatic rifles shotguns.

The Republican politician said he had gathered over 50 donated firearms was working with federal authorities to overcome export barriers.

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“We want to make sure they have the weapons they need to defend their homes,” said Blakeman.



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Russian prisoners of war will work to ‘restore’ Ukraine’s economy: Ukrainian officials


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Russian prisoners of war will eventually be used to “restore Ukraine’s economy” in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said Tuesday. 

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Yevhen Yenin made the announcement during a Ukrainian telethon broadcast. Yenin said Ukraine would comply with all norms of international humanitarian law.

“And this is what distinguishes us from the Russian aggressor, who shoots at civilians, strikes rockets bombs at homes,” Yenin said in a translated post on the ministry’s Facebook page. “And I’m not talking about the treatment of our servicemen.”

UKRAINE BATTLES RUSSIAN FORCES: LIVE UPDATES

11 russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian forces make a press statement on March 5, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
(Andriy Dubchak/dia images via Getty Images)

“We will use all the opportunities that the Geneva Conventions give us in this regard. That is, the use of labor, etc,” Yenin added. “All these people will later work to restore Ukraine’s economy.”

In the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, a detaining power may utilize the labor of prisoners of war “who are physically fit, taking into account their age, sex, rank, physical aptitude, with a view particularly to maintaining them in a good state of physical mental health.”

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Yevhen Yenin is pictured during the briefing on the landing of the third evacuation flight from Kabul (Afghanistan) at Boryspil International Airport, Kyiv Region, central Ukraine.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Yevhen Yenin is pictured during the briefing on the landing of the third evacuation flight from Kabul (Afghanistan) at Boryspil International Airport, Kyiv Region, central Ukraine.
((Hennadii Minchenko/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images))

Prisoners of war must also be granted suitable working conditions, “especially as regards accommodation, food, clothing, equipment.” Those conditions should not be inferior to those enjoyed by nations of the detaining power “in similar work.”

UKRAINE SAYS IT SANK THE RUSSIAN WARSHIP THAT ATTACKED SNAKE ISLAND: ‘WE F—— HIT THEM!’

The labor should also not be unhealthy or dangerous, the daily duration cannot exceed that “permitted for civilian workers in the district.”

Two Russian soldiers taken prisoner near Kyiv, by Ukraine following Russia's military operation in Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

Two Russian soldiers taken prisoner near Kyiv, by Ukraine following Russia’s military operation in Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
(Embassy of Ukraine in Ankara/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Thousands of people have died during the Russian invasion, more than 2 million people have already fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations.



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