Backed into a corner over Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is lashing out with huge repercussions

Last week, important developments pointed to flickering hopes of peace in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin acknowledged that Xi Jinping had expressed deep concern about the war, and

Narendra Modi publicly criticised the Russian leader over his invasion. China and India, significant economic and military powers, had hitherto avoided condemning Moscow

over the conflict and indeed had weakened international sanctions by buying discounted Russian oil. Their change of stance was held up by the West as a highly damaging erosion of

support which could drive the Kremlin to accept that a military victory was no longer possible and seek a ceasefire. President Putin was emollient in his response to the

strictures at a summit in Uzbekistan, telling prime minister Modi that “we will do our best to stop this [the war] as soon as possible” and address “the concerns that you

express.” He told president Xi that he understood “your questions and concerns” about the war. On Tuesday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that Putin was seeking an end to

the conflict and a “significant step” was on the horizon to achieve this. The Turkish president said Putin “is actually showing me that he's willing to end this as soon as

possible ... because the way things are going right now are quite problematic." Twenty-four hours later, Putin had ordered a partial mobilisation or reserves for his

“special military operation” with defence minister Sergei Shoigu adding that 300,000 Russians with combat experience will now be called up to fight.