Before launching his offensive against Ukraine on February 24, Vladimir Putin had a clear vision in mind: the invasion must be completed within a few days. Today, after three months of conflict, it is difficult to say for sure how the war will end.
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What paths can conflict take in terms of current forces, goals and difficulties? Which are more likely? According to FranceInfo, many experts have seen different scenarios.
Ukraine defeated Western aggression and won the war
This is the dream of Kiev’s supporters. NATO has recently expressed confidence that the Ukrainian military has regained control of Kharkiv, the country’s second city in the Northeast. She launched a counter-attack on herself in the direction of the Isis in the southeast of Kharkiv. Meanwhile, the Russian military continues to make tactical mistakes such as crossing the Donets River, resulting in the destruction of at least 73 tanks, the Ukrainian military said. AP*. As its soldiers come to the end of their military service, it lacks vital forces.
But for Ukraine, what exactly means success? Is it enough to return to the situation before February 24? Not explicit: “We hope that Crimea will become part of Ukraine. “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said The Wall Street Journal* May 3. Cited by Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Maliar Financial Times*, Purpose “Establishing complete cleansing and sovereignty of our country [ukrainienne] Within its boundaries “ These include the Crimean and eastern provinces of Donbass, Russian-controlled Ukrainian territories and pro-Russian separatists since 2014, respectively.
However, reclaiming these areas from a military perspective can be very difficult. “These territories have been in conflict for eight years. Separatists and Russian soldiers know the terrain. They have had time to strengthen their positions.”Christine Dugoin-Clément, a researcher associated with the head of the “risks” of the IAE research laboratory at the Paris-Sorbonne Business School, explains to franceinfo. The Ukrainian offensive could be very costly in terms of human lives and property – one of the reasons why Ukraine is constantly increasing and demanding continued military support.
Russia won the war through Ukraine’s “economic” and military suffocation
For its part, Moscow continues to make progress in many areas, such as Severodonetsk in the Donbass. It recreates the siege strategy successfully pursued on Mariupol (continuous bombings and the Ukrainian supply blockade) in other cities, and continues to attack Ukrainian strategic points (ammunition, railroads or power stations). The Russian military has also learned the lessons of its defeat in kyiv: by returning to its home territory, it avoids overstretching its supply chains, making them vulnerable.
Knock out feet can come from the wallet. At the same time, Russia is pursuing a strategy“Economic suffocation” Lecturer in Geopolitics of Russia at the Paul-Valerie University in Montpellier, to Carol Grimat-Potter, Ukraine.
“Ukraine’s economic centers are on the east and Black Sea coasts, which Russia controls or restricts, including the port of Odessa.”Carol Grimot-Potter Lecturer in Russian Geopolitics at Paul-Valerie University in Montpellier
Several elements suggest that Ukraine will lend a hand. This situation can be accelerated by easing Western support, “Determinant of Ukraine’s opposition” According to Mathieu Boulègue, co-researcher on the Saddam House Thought Group’s Russia and Eurasia Project. The economic costs of the war could prevent the United States and Europe from pursuing financial and military support. The first cracks in European unity have already appeared: Hungary opposes tough sanctions on Russian oil for fear of running out of energy.
But in this situation there are flaws in the view of the analysts, who point to the resistance of the Ukrainian troops on the ground. “Russia has no way to carry out high-intensity operations in the long run”Mathieu confirms Boulègue, recalling the failure of Russian troops to capture the city of Kyiv.
The war begins when neither side wins.
This explains why the often-mentioned perspective is a protracted conflict. “Lines can be stabilized around the regional borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”Mathieu Boulègue believes.
“It will not be a ‘frozen conflict’: there will be tactical moves, advances and defenses on each side. But the situation could drag on for ten, twenty, thirty years, until Moscow gets enough terrain to present it. As a victory.”Matthew Powell, co-researcher at the Saddam House Thought Group
Opposite Blitzkrieg Vladimir Putin was expected on February 24. But the Kremlin is used to protracted wars. Carol Grimott-Potter draws parallel to the war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989: “At that time, the Soviet Union already had very large objectives compared to the number of its troops. It did not predict the level of resistance and did not succeed in thwarting international support.”
But there is no way to have it forever in Moscow. International sanctions threaten to destroy its economy, and the cost of war is rising day by day, both humanely and economically: Russia spends more than $ 300 million a day on its military, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Moscow Times*.
Peace talks ultimately succeed
This is why Ukraine, like Russia, can decide to find a way through negotiations. The chances are slim at present: Negotiations have been suspended since May 17. Moscow points a “Total lack of will” from kyiv, and a remaining offense to Russia in Ukraine “Similar thinking”. However, Volodymyr Zhelensky continues to show positive signs: “There are things we can only achieve at the negotiating table. “, The Ukrainian president told the Ukrainian channel ICTV. But in the eyes of interviewed researchers, negotiations are unlikely to succeed as long as the dynamics of war are favorable to kyiv: “Although Ukraine is currently in small steps and interested in reclaiming occupied territories, there is a chance of regaining land.”Christine Dugoin-Clément explains.
“A ceasefire can be a pause while waiting for the right moment to resume an attack.”Christine Dugoin-Clement, Associate Researcher at Paris-Sorbonne Business School
By his side, “Moscow is a prisoner of its own rhetoric”Mathieu Boulègue believes. “Russia is selling its people a ‘three-day war’, total military superiority. It cannot be admitted that it did not happen properly. And basically, its overall goal is to subjugate Ukraine completely.” “Russia is unlikely to repatriate Crimea to Ukraine”Christine adds Ducoin-Clement, however this is one of kyiv’s motives.
With such uncompromising views, “We will go through periods of alternative ceasefires, failed negotiations and renewed fighting.”To Carol Grimott-Potter. “What Donbass has been enjoying since 2014, we can not get out of it.”
Russia is spreading the conflict to neighboring countries
High risk of slipping into a protracted collision. “The spread of conflict to neighboring countries cannot be ruled out”, Said Emmanuel Macron May 19. A Russian missile falls into NATO territory, nuclear threats made, “Accidentally, due to fatigue or frustration … In order not to find ourselves without an answer in the face of a failure, we need to imagine the widest possible scenarios.Mathieu Boulègue considers.
But in the eyes of experts, an increase in nuclear power is unlikely. “This threatens the stability of the regime, which is the main objective of Vladimir Putin’s organization.”, Says the researcher. Reacting to the NATO membership initiative initiated by Finland and Sweden, the Russian Foreign Minister said that this would not happen. “No big difference”According to Reuters *. Limited reaction compared to previous threats “If there is no peace, at least suggest the infiltration of Russian discourse.”, According to Carol Grimott-Potter. To the researcher, “People do not understand why it is necessary to open other nodes. Russia does not have the means to do so.”
Regime change is coming in Moscow
The Russian people who can revolt against Vladimir Putin? “He cannot stay in power”Joe Biden said the situation was being considered by Ukraine’s allies.
In fact, in Russia, “Anti-war sentiment on the rise”Says Carol Grimott-Potter: “Even pro-Russian bloggers have criticized the catastrophic failure of the Donets River. Between that and the weight of sanctions, we can see Russian society cracking down. “ Recently, a former colonel mentioned the difficulties of the attack on Russian state television L’Express (Paid item).
But there are some who truly believe in the context of internal rebellion. “Any attempt to condemn war is punishable by imprisonment.”, Carol Grimott-Potter recalled. And regardless of penalties: “Russian leadership does not care about the well-being of its people”Judge Mathieu Boulègue said it would take many years for the ruling elite to change. “Everything that comes after Vladimir Putin will not be good”, He points out. One of the many unknowns in the conflict, the outcome of which is still uncertain.
* These links refer to the content in English.
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