Images and headlines from Putin's war... and what they mean

Post photo: “War” | © Wendelin Jacober on Pixabay


Looking at the horrific images of Putin's war and also reading the related headlines and reports, I ask myself: how long can the people of Ukraine endure the misfortune that has befallen them and their country before they become numb and petrified about themselves protection? How long does it take Putin and those responsible for the war to realize that they are destroying not only their neighboring country but also their own? Or did they simply take into account that Russia, too, will face bleak times as a result of the sanctions imposed by the West?  

I want to address a few of these questions in this post. Many details cannot yet be overlooked, many questions still need to be answered. For example the question of how the West can and should deal with Putin when the hot war is over?  

Images and headlines from Putin's war... and what they mean

Very different but mostly depressing images from the war in Ukraine flicker across the screens every day. There were the pictures of the mass graves in Bucha and elsewhere that testify to the misdeeds of the Russian Sodateska. "Torture and Murder on Orders" headed the Süddeutsche Zeitung an account of what became visible after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kyiv region. "The alleged atrocities of Bucha should not be a derailment of individuals. Rather, they fit with Russian warfare, in which bloody terror against civilians is an integral part of the strategy. There are enough examples of that.” Irina Venediktova 410 bodies of killed civilians have been found. The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke of alleged signs of video falsifications and denied any responsibility for the murders discovered after the withdrawal of Russian troops. This is stated in the report Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Yet the nature and scope of the alleged war crimes are consistent with Russian warfare, where murder, torture and terror against civilians by Russian soldiers are often summed up in one word: discuss – the absence of any warfare regulated by rules. And that even in your own country.” The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated: "This is how the Russian state will now be perceived" (, April 4.4.2022, XNUMX: "Torture and murder on command"). Finally, there are the images of desperate people who are stunned by the rubble of their houses and their belongings, and there are the images of mothers with their children who, as refugees, get off trains and buses somewhere. Fear and desperation are written all over the women's faces, and the children are unsure about what has just happened to them.

Putin and those responsible for the attack on Ukraine have blood on their hands. They are also responsible for what they are doing to their own country and what is yet to come for the people of Russia. There are also pictures and reports of this, but it seems as if these complaints have not yet really reached the Russian population. Putin and his supporters not only have the blood of “brother people” in Ukraine on their hands, but also that of their own compatriots. On April 7.4.2022, XNUMX, the Kremlin spokesman conceded Peskov in an interview that Russian forces had suffered "significant casualties" in Ukraine. This is "a huge tragedy for us." On March 13.3.2022, 1351, the Russian leadership officially announced 18.000 deaths. The Ukrainian side estimates more than XNUMX Russian casualties, although it is unclear whether this figure includes the injured (, 8.4.22: "The "huge tragedy" - reworded to the footnote").

A few days later reported the New York Times referring to Western intelligence, the Russian casualties are estimated at 7.000-10.000 dead and 20.000-30.000 wounded. It was noted about these numbers that the large ranges demonstrate the uncertainty of the estimated numbers (, April 19.4.2022, XNUMX: "More Cautious, Russia Embarks on New Phase of Ukraine War").

Millions of people fleeing

 "I did not think that my mother Putin twice could escape."

Headline of a New York Times report

Under this headline, the Ukrainian journalist describes Anna Myroniuk, as a reporter at the newspaper Kyiv Independent is active, in a guest post in the New York Times her mother's double refugee fate, which began in 2014 in eastern Ukraine. When the Russian-backed separatists instigated the war in the Donetsk region eight years ago, the teacher fled to western Ukraine, where her then 20-year-old daughter was studying, and found a new job there. She let herself in Bucha down in the Kyiv suburb where the world recently learned that the Russian military had been torturing and murdering civilians and committing heinous atrocities.

Anna Myroniuks mother initially wanted to stay, did not want to be expelled a second time, and when she finally had to realize that she could not stay, it was too late: the Russian troops had Bucha taken. She spent 10 days in the basement without electricity, heating and water and with food becoming scarce. Finally, she managed to get to her daughter through a humanitarian corridor to the capital, Kyiv. “The next day I put her on a train; she is now with relatives in western Ukraine – once again a displaced person within her own country. She lost her job and her home twice. But she was fortunate to stay alive, unlike hundreds of her neighbors buried in mass graves in Bucha are buried." 

Anna Myroniuk After the withdrawal of Russian troops from the area around Kyiv, the battle for the Donbass is now expected: "The war that began eight years ago in the east is now returning there at its peak." (, April 17.4.2022, XNUMX: "I Didn't Think My Mother Would Escape Putin Twice"; guest post by Anna Myroniuk).

Putin's award for the 64th motorized rifle brigade cannot be surpassed in terms of cynicism and contempt for human beings. Ukraine accuses this unit of the most serious war crimes Bucha (Source: Liveblog “War in Ukraine” of Süddeutsche Zeitung on 19.4.2022).

Refugee figures: According to the UN, 10 million people – almost a quarter of the Ukrainian population – have already been displaced from their homes as a result of the war. 3,4 million left the country (Heilbronn voice, March 21.3.2022, XNUMX: "Ten million people on the run").

On April 20.4.2022, 12, the ARD Tagesschau reported the number of XNUMX million refugees.

"A symbolic blow"

Headline of the Süddeutsche Zeitung on the sinking of the missile cruiser "Moskva" 

The flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the missile cruiser "Moscow" sank on April 14.4.2022, XNUMX. “Russia cannot simply replace the decades-old, decorated and repeatedly modernized ship. This ship is emblematic of other surprising casualties in this war and how vulnerable the overwhelming force is at times." Frank Nienhuysen in a comment in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (, April 15.4.2022, XNUMX: "A symbolic blow").

Similarly formulated New York Times: “The sinking of the ship is of symbolic, diplomatic and military importance... The loss is a painful symbol for Russia, but it also has practical implications for the war. The missiles that were destined for Ukraine are now at the bottom of the Black Sea" (, April 15.4.2022, XNUMX: "Prized Russian Ship Was Hit by Missiles, US Officials Say").

"The loss of the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is tantamount to the loss of a crown jewel," she said New York Times Ktarzyna Zysk from the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies in Oslo. "A serious loss of prestige, which probably also affected Putin personally, after he attached great importance to the reconstruction of Russia as a great sea power."

The US admiral made an interesting comment James G. Foggo III“They (the Russians) thought they could cruise around in the Black Sea wherever they wanted. They had to learn something else.” The "Moscow" would have played an important part in the Russian attack on the port city of Odessa. She should have covered the Marines' landing operation with missiles. As a result of the sinking of the "Moscow" other Russian ships were withdrawn from the Ukrainian coast. “The further Russian ships are from the coast, the less they can support an attack on Ukrainian cities. The Ukrainian Neptun missiles have a range of 190 miles, about 300 kilometers. Defending Odessa is Ukraine's top priority. (In addition, it should be noted that the Russians are unable to push a similar ship into the Black Sea after Turkey has blocked the passage on the Bosphorus).

As is so often the case in this war, there is also the downfall of the "Moscow" conflicting reports from the two sides. The Russians first reported that a fire had broken out on board the ship and that it then sank in the storm. On the other hand, the Ukrainian side reported that "Moscow" was sunk by Ukrainian Neptun rockets. This version is supported by official American site. the New York Times  publish a map of the sea area between the peninsula Krim and the southern coast of Ukraine and drew the movements of the "Moscow" a. Accordingly, the ship was in the port of April 7.4.2022, XNUMX Sevastopol, was sighted on April 10.4.2022, 12.4.2022 near the port at sea and was about 75 nautical miles off Odessa on April XNUMX, XNUMX. was hit "Moscow" according to this report of two Ukrainian missiles 65 nautical miles south of Odessa (Quotes and information from, April 15.4.22, XNUMX: "Prized Russian Ship Was Hit by Missiles, US Officials Say").

"Why a state bankruptcy of Russia is becoming more and more likely"

Headline of a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung

“For the first time, Russia has settled its foreign debt in rubles instead of US dollars. In total, the payments due amount to around 650 million dollars. This time, the Russian Treasury transferred the amount, which actually had to be paid in dollars, in rubles after an American correspondent bank – on the orders of the US Treasury Department – ​​refused to execute the payment order in US currency. There is now a risk that the rating agencies will classify Russia as insolvent after a period of 30 days. The Kremlin is not allowed to settle dollar debts in rubles, that's what the loan agreements say.” This is how the Süddeutsche Zeitung the complex situation Russia faces due to Western sanctions (, April 6.4.2022, XNUMX: "Why a state bankruptcy in Russia is becoming more and more likely"). However, it can be assumed that this problem will only be a secondary battlefield for Putin. 

Even before the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.2.2022, 7.4.2022, the West agreed on a bundle of different sanctions against Russia and then put them into effect. The aim of the measures is to punish Russia for the illegal attack on Ukraine and to put the country's leadership under such pressure that it ends the war against the neighboring country and withdraws its troops. Based on previous experiences, Putin evidently did not expect this unity on the part of the West; here lies one of his misjudgments. The EU put the fifth sanctions package into effect on April XNUMX, XNUMX, and the United States are also increasing the pressure with the aim of cutting off Russia from the international financial system. The US Secretary of the Treasury Janet L Yellen – she was the former head of the US Federal Reserve – explained: “Our goal from the beginning was to cause Russia as much pain as possible, while at the same time doing everything we could to protect the United States and our partners from unnecessary economic damage.” Am 6.4.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX the United States cut the Sberbank, the largest Russian financial institution and the alpha bank, one of the largest Russian Private banks completely cut off access to the American financial system. At a hearing in the US House of Representatives Janet L Yellen for further isolating Russia on the international stage, such as its exclusion from the G20 round. The US should not attend the next G20 meeting if Russia is present (background information and quotes from, April 6.4.2022, XNUMX: "Yellen says the aim is 'maximum pain' for Russia without hurting the US economy").

It is difficult to predict what the sanctions regime will ultimately achieve. The question also remains as to what still needs to be done to get Putin and his leadership in the Kremlin to change course. The man who expected his troops to march into Kyiv within a week is apparently no longer able or able to make a decision on a ceasefire and peace after more than seven weeks of war and destruction. Surrounded by yes-men, Putin seems to have become driven by the war. He didn't deserve any explanation for his actions or even sympathy. On April 19.4.2022, 22.4.2022, the Russian offensive began in eastern Ukraine. Called on April XNUMX, XNUMX Rustam Minnekalev, the deputy commander of the central military district of Russia, according to a report by Russian media, as the goal of the invasion of complete control over the Donbass in the east of Ukraine and across the south with the Black Sea ports. Between the Krim and the Donbass a land corridor should be created (, April 22.4.2022, XNUMX: "Moscow wants to control the East and the South").

"Russia's economy is feeling the effects of sanctions," reads the headline of a report Süddeutsche Zeitung. In it will Elvira Nabiullina, quoted the head of the Russian central bank with the promising statement of April 18.4.2022, XNUMX: "The period in which the Russian economy can live on reserves is finite." A phase of structural change and the search for new business models will begin as early as spring and summer have to. So far, the sanctions have primarily had an impact on the financial markets. “But now they will increasingly impact the economy as well.” Nabiullina Mentioned figures: "As a result of the foreign sanctions, around 300 of the total of 640 billion large gold and foreign exchange reserves were frozen." Legal steps are planned against this. The report does not give details on this. However, the current inflation rate in Russia is mentioned: At 17,49 percent, it is at its highest level for more than 20 years (, April 18.4.2022, XNUMX: “Russia's economy is feeling the effects of sanctions").

The same statements and figures are also reported by the New York Times and supplemented with a statement by the Mayor of Moscow Sergei S. Sobyanin: In the Russian capital with 13 million inhabitants it is feared that around 200.000 people will become unemployed due to the expected economic difficulties. The mayor announced a $40 million program to help people laid off by foreign companies find temporary jobs and new jobs.

Putin himself is confident that the West's sanctions will miss their target: "The strategy of an economic blitzkrieg has failed." The state propaganda machine is also spreading the same messages. But in the report of New York Times With regard to the statements by the head of the central bank and the mayor of Moscow, it is pointed out that the reactions of the Russian population to the Ukraine invasion will help determine whether Putin's grip on power will solidify or support for the war will weaken (information and quotes from, April 18.4.2022, XNUMX: "Bleak assessments of the Russian economy clash with Putin's rosy claims").

So far, I conclude from the descriptions presented here, the battle for the minds and hearts of the Russian people has not yet been decided. In a detailed report by New York Times describes people's insecurity when looking at and evaluating the war: "Six weeks after President Vladimir VPutins invasion of Ukraine, many Russians remain ignorant of the extent of their country's casualties -- and so of the carnage and brutal atrocities committed by their military in retreating north. Increasingly, however, the reality of war appears in the everyday lives of families; when death notices and black body bags arrive, some question… the meaning of war. 

The back-and-forth after the sinking of the "Moscow". It was originally reported that the entire crew of more than 500 had been rescued. This report could not be maintained, especially after the official announcement that the ship had sunk in a storm on April 14.4.2022, XNUMX. Inquiries from relatives at various offices were answered in part contradictory. Anna Syromaysova, the mother of a missing seaman told an independent Russian news agency: "They don't tell us anything. There are no lists. We have to look for it ourselves.” Relatives were often informed that the person they were looking for was “missing”. Inquiries from foreign agencies are answered very cautiously or not at all by the relatives. 

The Kremlin spokesman said on April 19.4.2022, XNUMX Dimitri Peskov, he was not authorized to give any information on missing seafarers, that was the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense. The father of a missing person posted on VKontakte, the with Facebook comparable Russian system, the question: "How come people are reported missing at sea?!!! I asked quite bluntly why are the officers alive and my son who was drafted is dead?” (, April 21.4.2022, XNUMX: "With sunken warship, Russian disinformation faces a test"). 

These and similar questions will become less and less able to be suppressed as the war progresses. However, there is also an opposite effect: the news of the victims strengthens the resolve of others to defeat Ukraine and support Putin in the conflict with the West" (, April 6.4.2022, XNUMX: "More Russians Consider Costs of War in Ukraine as Casualties Mount"). 

Another decisive factor for the attitude of the population will be how long personalities from politics, business and society - such as the head of the central bank or the mayor of Moscow - are able and allowed to put a question mark behind statements and decisions by the head of the Kremlin. Journalists are banned from using the word “war” in reporting under penalty of punishment, and public demonstrations against the war have been suppressed with harsh police force and punished. The propaganda machine has now discovered another target group: children in kindergarten, schools and universities. In Russia, a new school subject has been introduced: "Talks about the most important things" - every Monday it's about the "special operation" in Ukraine. the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports on this under the heading “Ordered love for the fatherland”: “Singing the national anthem, hoisting flags, now a new school subject: the Russian government is trying to indoctrinate schoolchildren and students with “patriotic education”. Teachers who don't follow suit face expulsion – and worse.” The report quotes a school principal admonishing her teachers “that we can't have our own opinions because the state is paying us.” (, April 21.4.2022, XNUMX: "Prescribed love for the fatherland").

I can remember similar events from my school days, which began in the autumn of 1942 at the Rosenau School in Heilbronn: Line up in the schoolyard for the flag roll call. With the best will in the world, I can no longer remember what the school principal said. Maybe he told us about the upcoming final victory, but there wasn't. And not everyone who was present on the Rosenau School yard at the time survived the war. For those who survived, it later became clear that these "flag-raisers" had ruined our childhood and youth unspeakably. They didn't tell us how the teachers felt about it. Our class teacher in the 2nd grade has repeatedly sent us to Heilbronn's old town to look at and describe distinctive buildings. I remember one of these tasks: description of the church fountain at the Kilianskirche. Perhaps our teacher had an inkling of what would happen to Heilbronn's old town and the people who lived there on December 4, 1944. Our teacher died in the air raid on Heilbronn on December 4, 1944...

"I never thought I would have to be ashamed of Russia."

Olga Smirnova, star ballerina and former member of the Bolshoi Ballet

"I never thought I would be ashamed of Russia, but now I feel that a line has been drawn that separates the before and the nach". This is how the world famous ballerina describes Olga Smirnova – until recently a member of Bolshoi Ballets in Moscow - their dismay and shame at their country's war against Ukraine. At the beginning of the war held out Olga Smirnova in Dubai up to recover from a knee injury. Faced with the brutality and suppression of dissent in Russia, she realized she could not return home. "If I wanted to go back to Russia, I would have to fundamentally change my views on the war. A return would obviously be dangerous.” The ballerina moved to Amsterdam and joined the national ballet there.

The New York Times describes in detail what this departure means for the cultural image of Russia: “The departure of a woman Smirnova is a blow to the pride of a country where - since the days of the tsars - ballet has been of paramount importance as a national jewel, a cultural export and a tool of gentle power. Her departure is a clear sign of how the Russian invasion of Ukraine has turned ballet upside down, with prominent artists now shunning big-name Russian dance companies; Western theaters say performances of Bolshoi and the Mariinsky away; and the art of dance in Russia, which had opened up to the world in the decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union, seems to be turning inward again.”   

But Putin not only accepts that many people - on both sides - are killed and wounded, that unspeakable suffering for refugees arises, that towns and villages and the livelihoods of the people in Ukraine are destroyed. He also accepts that an important lifeline of art and culture, mutual exchange, mutual encounters and thus mutual stimulation are stopped. Russian art and culture will become isolated and thin and lose its reputation in the world.

"We're going back to the Cold War era," notes Ted Brandsen, the artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet and new boss of Olga Smirnova firmly and refers to the time when ballet greats like Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova left the Soviet Union. Similar to what was reported then brands, Russian dancers would come to him every day and say: "I can't develop as an artist in this country." The ballet, the journalist writes Alex Marshall in der New York Times has long been a symbol of Russian culture; "and now it becomes a symbol of Russian isolation" (quotes and background information from, April 15.4.2022, XNUMX: "War Brings New Iron Curtain Down on Russia's Storied Ballet Stages").

The exodus from art and culture in Russia is not only being carried out by Russian artists. the New York Times reports on the departure of the American Gabriel Heine, of 15 years as a conductor on Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg worked and worked on hundreds of performances there, for example on classics like "Swan Lake" contributed. Heine was the first American graduate in 1998 Moscow Conservatory. He made his breakthrough in 2007 when he Valerie Gergiev, the general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater approached about the possibility of working there and then to the debut with Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" was invited. In 2009 was Heine was appointed permanent conductor and has since conducted more than 850 performances. But Valery Gergiev has a special friend in the Russian state apparatus: he and Vladimir Putin have known each other since 1990, and this acquaintance has Gergiev also for that Mariinsky to be able to use. "I assume that culture - for whatever reason - is a priority for the government," says Heine in the New York Times quoted. Gradually he understood that the arts and the state in Russia are inexorably linked. Here's from that Putin friend again Valery Gergiev the speech, which recently hit the headlines in Germany too, because he had refused to publicly condemn the Russian war against Ukraine and subsequently withdrew from his involvement with the Munich Philharmonic was released. Unlike his boss Valery Gergiev this war has the 47 year old today Gabriel Heine deeply shocked, because he was also chief conductor of the symphony orchestra from 2003 - 2007 Kharkiv in Ukraine. His conclusion: “Russia is not the country where I would like to see my son grow up. It's not the country my wife should live in. It's not the country I want to be in any longer." 

Gabriel Heine has spoken of the fact that, for whatever reason, culture is of particular importance to the Russian government. The Russian President recently gave the answer himself when he Valery Gergiev asked what he thought of the idea Bolshoi Theater in Moscow with the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg to merge and thus return to the times of the tsars? With a man like that Putin friend Gergiev at the top, the Kremlin would in effect take over this new institution and set the game plan. This would greatly benefit the President's power and reputation (quotes and information from, April 18.4.2022, XNUMX: "Citing Ukraine War, an American Resigns From Russia's Mariinsky").   

One question at the end: And what comes next?

In this paper I wrote about some details and consequences of Putin's war. Art and culture were particularly close to my heart – they are currently not the top priority in the headlines. However, there are headings like "Art loses" - in the report of the Süddeutsche Zeitung it is stated: "The war in Ukraine is also destroying cooperation between Russian and Western museums, entire collections are disappearing" (, April 7.4.2022, XNUMX). Also Claudia Roth, the Federal Government's Minister of State for Culture sees these dangers. the Heilbronn voice captioned her interview with Claudia Roth with "This is a Putin war, not a Pushkin war" (Heilbronn voice, 13.4.2022).

I am unable to answer the all-important questions, such as how this war can and will end, or what the new order in Europe will look like then. It is questionable whether there will be a new period of peace in Europe in the foreseeable future, as we have had for a long time. "Putin's War in Ukraine Shatters an Illusion in Russia" reads a headline New York Times. The report refers to the attitude that many Russians used to have: “Stay out of politics and live your life as you can”. The income of the average population has increased significantly in the last decade, but at the same time the political system has drifted more and more in an authoritarian direction, writes the journalist Sabrina Tavernise (, 9.4.2022). 

But not only the illusions in This war destroyed Russia, including the illusions outside Russias no longer exist. “The President of Russia is crazy? You might think so. He and his followers don't think so. Everyone in Europe must know: this is about all of us, personally,” writes Vladimir Sorokin, the most important contemporary writers in Russia Süddeutsche Zeitung (, April 22.4.2022, XNUMX: “Our War”; guest post by Vladimir Sorokin). A little bit of optimism speaks from the headline of another guest contribution sorokin in der Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Putin is doomed" - Putin's regime will collapse. This war is the beginning of the end" (, February 26.2.2022, XNUMX: "Putin is delivered"; guest article by Vladimir Sorokin).   

"You also have to look at the war as a natural event."

Otto Dix, note on page 107 of his World War I war diary
  • Dear Mr. Müller, as an old warhorse, the last thing I would have thought about was culture itself. That's why I'm happy to see the whole thing from a different perspective. However, I'm not as optimistic as Vladimir Sorokin, because it depends on how Europe reacts to this war.

    And things are not looking good at the moment, as our politicians are still thinking of themselves and their very personal interests first. The USA may be able to end the "hot" war in this way, but the war will only really start in Europe. And whether democracy in Europe will emerge victorious is currently completely in the stars.

    • Dear Mr. Kummerle,
      Thank you for your comments and additions to my today
      Paper. Art and culture in war - an inexhaustible topic;
      perhaps I should have supplemented my reflections with what
      art and culture and many artists and writers after 1933 in
      was done to Germany.

      I've been into it since I was young, especially those
      I was interested in the history of the film. I was fascinated by that
      The version of the book “Von Caligari
      to Hitler” by Siegfried Kracauer (1889 – 1966). From a Jewish
      Coming from a family, Kracauer had to leave Germany in order to save his life
      rescue. In the Caligari book, like the Weimarer in the film, he investigated
      time was already created what actually happened later: parts of the
      Population were ready to accept a dictator. the
      successful films of that time were not the reason for Hitlers
      Climb up, but they indicated which direction a lot of people were going
      were programmed. Kracauer thus founded the sociology of film.

      In my paper today I have the Exodus with a few examples
      described by artists from Stalin's Soviet Union and Putin's Russia
      and among others Gavriel Heine, the longtime American
      Conductors of the Maiinsky Theater in St. Petersburg quoted: “Russia
      is not the country I want to be in any longer.” Also out
      Germany saw a similar departure of artists after 1933; also
      of scientists and writers, to emigration. From the
      Film industry were among them Fritz Lang, Conrad Veidt, Billy Wilder, Lili
      Palmer, Peter Lorre, Marlene Dietrich, just to name a few. In
      Hollywood was then a colony of German emigrants. only one
      Some of them returned to Germany after the war.

      I love the sight of the burnt out Heilbronn City Theater
      formative memory remained. But I was also excited about them
      Theater troupe to read Fritz Wilde, who after the war in
      Heilbronn made theater again. In fact: art and culture in the
      War - a constantly new topic.

      Best Regards
      Hans Müller

      • Dear Mr. Müller, this aspect "Parts of the population were willing to accept a dictator. The successful films of the time were not the reason for Hitler's rise, but they indicated the direction in which many people were programmed.“ is very interesting today, because one can assume that social media have even more influence than the films of yesteryear.