Crimean liberation or "more"?
Experts give BBC forecasts for Ukraine war in 2023
Created: 12/27/2022, 7:55 p.m
By: Patrick Mayer
Near the front at Bakhmut: Ukrainian soldiers unload weapons and ammunition.
© IMAGO/Celestino Arce
How will the Ukraine war develop in 2023?
The Ukrainian resistance, Russia's army, Crimea - analysts have different expectations.
Munich/London/Kyiv – The Ukrainian armed forces keep documenting alleged military advances on social media.
This is what happened on Boxing Day (December 26), when the Ministry of Defense posted a video on its Twitter account of an alleged storming of a Russian trench by the 10th Mountain Infantry Brigade.
Eight Russian "invaders" surrendered, it said.
Ukraine war: Ukrainian defenders and Russian army - what's next in 2023?
According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), as of December 27, fighting in the Ukraine war was concentrated around the cities of Kreminna, located between the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, on Bakhmut in the middle of the Donbass, and on Svatove on the border between Luhansk Oblast and Kharkiv Region.
But: How will things continue in 2023?
What goals does Moscow ruler Vladimir Putin want to achieve - despite all the losses in the Russian army?
Another major offensive on Kyiv in the spring?
What will become of Crimea?
The British BBC put such questions to experts and analysts.
Different assessments followed.
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For Michael Clarke, associate director of the Strategic Studies Institute in Exeter, England, the “key factor” is what he sees as the expected Russian spring offensive.
“Putin had admitted that about 50,000 of the newly mobilized troops are already on the front lines.
The other 250,000 mobilized soldiers are training for the next year,” Clarke writes in his analysis.
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Analyst believes that Ukraine is putting pressure on Donbass
The Strategic Studies Institute at the renowned University of Exeter brings together academics from various disciplines, such as political scientists and researchers on international relations.
A short but unstable ceasefire would be “the only other option.
But Putin has made it clear that he will not stop.
And Ukraine has made it clear that they are still struggling to survive," Clarke said.
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Vladimir Putin is holed up his forces for the winter to await a new Russian offensive in the spring.
Michael Clarke, associate director of the Strategic Studies Institute, University of Exeter
He compares: “Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin all had to keep their armies moving in the face of winter in the steppe, and now – his invasion is in retreat – Vladimir Putin is holed up his forces for the winter in preparation for a new Russian offensive in the spring waiting."
But the Ukrainians are "better equipped and motivated" and will keep up the pressure in Donbass, the analyst believes.
Well armed: A Ukrainian soldier poses Winter shelter at the front near Zaporizhia.
© IMAGO/Celestino Arce
In the fight with Russia: Ex-US general believes in military victory for Ukraine
Ben Hodges, former commander of US forces in Europe, even believes in a military victory for Ukraine.
“It's still too early to plan a victory parade in Kyiv.
But all the momentum is now with Ukraine and I have no doubt that they will win this war, probably in 2023," the former army general told the BBC.
In his view, there is no doubt that “due to all the winter equipment coming from Great Britain, Canada and Germany, the Ukrainian armed forces will be better able to
with it than the Russian,” he says.
Hodges does not believe in another major offensive by the Russians, but that the Ukrainian army could, in a “final phase”, finally liberate Crimea as well.
Russia illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014.
Equipment, logistics, determination - he sees "no other result than a Russian defeat," writes military expert Hodges.
Duration of Ukraine War: Analyst - Key will be in Russia
Meanwhile, Barbara Zanchetta of the Department of War Studies at King's College London analyses: “The winter will be difficult as Russia will attempt to break the morale and endurance of an already shattered population with attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure.
But Ukraine's resilience has proven remarkable.
You will stand firm.
The war will drag on.”
Zanchetta expects that the military conflict will last a long time and, in her estimation, will not be over before the end of 2023.
The prospects for negotiations in the Ukraine war are bleak, she says: "For a possible peace agreement, the core demands of at least one side must change.
There is no evidence that this has happened or will happen soon.” For example, the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists that Crimea will become part of Ukraine again.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that Ukraine cede currently occupied territories.
Which Kyiv categorically refuses.
For a possible peace agreement, the core demands of at least one side must change.
Barbara Zanchetta from the Department of War Studies at King's College London
Zanchetta suspects an attrition that the "material and human costs of the war could overwhelm the commitment of the Russian political elite."
Miscalculations leading to protests by society had already been the decisive factor "as in Vietnam for the United States or in Afghanistan for the Soviet Union".
But this can only happen if the West remains firm in its support for Ukraine.
Zanchetta summarizes: "The key will then lie in Russia."