As the first anniversary (24 Feb) of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine approaches, here are some comments.
Among the three main outcomes of the war so far, I’d mention first that Ukraine has proven far more resilient than most analysts expected. Not only have Ukrainian forces stopped the illegal Russian land grab, they have also recaptured important territories and inflicted several tactical defeats on Russia.
Second, the Western alliance has demonstrated unity in the face of Russia’s aggression and has been strengthened by the iron-clad commitment of all members to stand up to Russia. Despite some uncertainty over this, both the EU and NATO, and their allies further afield, have not buckled under Russian pressure but have remained committed to supporting Ukraine militarily, politically, and economically while enacting unprecedented sanctions against Russia.
And third, despite recent Ukrainian gains and Russia’s significant international isolation, the tide has not yet decisively turned in Ukraine’s favor. Russia remains a potent and unscrupulous opponent unafraid to break any conceivable international law in pursuit of its nefarious agenda in Ukraine.
With respect to the evolution of the war going into its second year, we are, first, likely to see Russia trying to mount more offensive operations to capture Ukrainian territory while continuing its attacks against critical national infrastructure in Ukraine, aimed at breaking Ukraine’s will to resist.
This is unlikely to succeed as long as Western support, both military and economic, keeps flowing to Ukraine. With this support, the country may be able to avoid both a collapse of its defense efforts and an even more severe humanitarian crisis.
Second, if Ukraine and the West remain steadfast in their determination to prevent Moscow from pressuring Kyiv and Western capitals into “peace negotiations,” the current stalemate on the ground is likely to continue until the spring. But it is unlikely to take the form of a de facto truce. We are more likely to see more of what has happened over the past few weeks—drone and missile attacks by both sides, artillery and infantry battles along the front lines, and civilian suffering.
Third, as neither side will be able to decisively exit the current stalemate, both will prepare for major offensive operations in the spring. With Western support, especially the delivery of advanced air defense systems, more and more powerful artillery systems and tanks and other armored vehicles, and possibly more and more capable drones, as well as advanced training for Ukrainian forces, Kyiv will be in a better position than Moscow by the spring, but even that will not automatically ensure a swift Russian defeat."
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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