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In January, the head of a group of serving and retired Russian military officers declared that invading Ukraine would be “pointless and extremely dangerous.” It would kill thousands, he said, make Russians and Ukrainians enemies for life, risk a war with NATO and threaten “the existence of Russia itself as a state.”

To many Russians, that seemed like a far-fetched scenario, since few imagined that an invasion of Ukraine was really possible. But two months later, as Russia’s advance stalls in Ukraine, the prophecy looms large. Reached by phone this week, the retired general who authored the declaration, Leonid Ivashov, said he stood by it, although he could not speak freely given Russia’s wartime censorship: “I do not disavow what I said.”

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