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Putin plays for time in Ukraine with U.S. and EU focused on Mideast

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Vladimir Putin is increasingly confident Russia’s military can outlast Ukraine as a second winter of war approaches with Kyiv’s U.S. and European allies distracted by the deepening conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The Kremlin is convinced developments are moving in Putin’s favor and that he’ll be able to hold on to territories in southern and eastern Ukraine that his army seized in the invasion, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

Russia’s playing for time as Putin prepares for presidential elections in March, two of the people said. The aim is to secure territory Russia currently holds and, with neither side able to make a decisive breakthrough, wait for war fatigue in the U.S. and Europe to mount and shift pressure onto Ukraine to seek a settlement.

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