In the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, where Putin thought he had popular support for his invasion, Ukrainians are digging in for the next phase of the war.
Fears about where Russia could employ the same tactics it is using in Ukraine are rampant in Central Asia, especially Kazakhstan, where ethnic Russians are numerous in the northern provinces.
Chatbots and phone apps are being deployed to the frontlines of the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, and have helped slow down the advance of Russian forces.
Ukrainian intelligence earlier this month said it found dog tags made for members of the Wagner Group, shadowy mercenaries who carry out the Kremlin's dirty work in conflicts abroad.
Ukrainian soldiers are seizing abandoned Russian tanks, ammunition, fuel and other supplies. 'The Ukrainian army can make use of all of that,' one analyst says.
Increasingly isolated, Moscow has asked its fickle ally for military, economic and political support. Unwilling to publicly back a global pariah, Beijing has equivocated.
The Russian military has reactivated recruitment offices to lure poverty-stricken Syrians to fight in Ukraine. But with the Russian economy in crisis, promises of good pay are dubious at best.
'If you want to know Russia's plans, look at what Russia accuses others of,' said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Under Uzbek law, citizens are prohibited from serving in the armed forces of foreign states, doing military service under a contract or serving as mercenaries.
Russian jets have on several recent occasions recklessly approached US aircraft over the Mediterranean, and many warn such behavior will lead to mistakes amid heightened tensions.