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War in Ukraine stalls two years after Russian invasion


Highlights: War in Ukraine stalls two years after Russian invasion. Russia takes the initiative with timid advances due to the shortage of ammunition for kyiv's troops. Analysts predict a long conflict in which neither side is making progress. “The most effective way for Ukraine to regain its advantage is to build an effective defense that reduces its needs,” says Franz-Stefan Gady of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) This expert estimates that kyv will need between 75,000 and 90,000 artillery shells each month to achieve that goal.

Russia takes the initiative with timid advances due to the shortage of ammunition for kyiv's troops, the lack of rotation of its soldiers and doubts about Washington's support. Analysts predict a long conflict

Stagnation, fatigue, burnout.

The “special military operation” in Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on February 24, 2022 has just completed two years without the large-scale invasion launched that day by the Kremlin having given the results it expected.

Tens of thousands of dead and wounded later, Russia's war in Ukraine is entrenched with a front in the east and south of the country of more than 800 kilometers of fortifications, mines and trenches in which neither side is making progress. significant.

Ukraine and its Western allies are beginning to show fatigue.

Ammunition provided by its partners, without which kyiv would never have been able to resist the world's second largest military power, is in short supply.

The United States Congress has blocked a new aid package promoted by the White House, while the European arms industry is unable to produce at the rate that the Ukrainians need, which has allowed Moscow to resume the initiative.

Throughout these two years, the war has gone through three stages.

Following the large-scale invasion launched by Moscow, kyiv managed to repel the aggression, forcing Putin's troops to regroup towards the east and south of the country.

He then recovered key territories around the city of Kharkiv and towns such as Kherson.

Thanks to the increasingly determined military support of the West - some countries hesitated at first to avoid being involved in the conflict -;

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive last June to try to drive Russia out of occupied territory.

But the new Leopard and Abrams tanks, armored vehicles, and the training received abroad by their troops were not enough to break through the defensive barrier designed by the Russians in the positions they control.

“As in World War I, we have reached the technological level that puts us in a draw,” former commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valeri Zaluzhni, told

The Economist

last November.

“The war is now in a stage of tactical blockade, of stagnation,” explains Thibault Fouillet, of the Foundation for Strategic Research, based in Paris.

“For five or six months, we have been going through a phase in which there is no real momentum in sight.

After two alternating attempts at major offensives by both sides, we find ourselves in a situation of limited war,” continues the military expert.

“It is true that now the Russians are advancing, but they are doing so very slowly and in a moderate way,” he adds.

Fouillet downplays the shortage of military supplies that kyiv complains about.

“Although the situation is critical, Ukraine will not find itself tomorrow without any ammunition.

We are in a period of global scarcity, but supplies, although they decrease, are not going to disappear.

Ukraine is not going to collapse due to lack of shells;

If it collapses it will be due to lack of morale or fatigue,” he points out.

“Of course, without enough projectiles you will not be able to launch a new offensive,” he adds.

Under these conditions, staying in the areas under its control is all kyiv can do for now (it controls 80% of its territory).

This is according to Mykola Beleskov, an analyst at the National Institute for Strategic Studies of Ukraine.

“Our goal on the ground during 2024 must be to retain the territories we control.

We have no other option than active defense due to the shortage of ammunition and the difficulties of mobilizing new soldiers, he maintains in an interview with the public television news channel.

Like Fouillet, Beleskov admits that it is now Russia that has the initiative, “but lacks sufficient advantage to launch a new offensive.”

Without significant progress by any of the contenders, the conflict has become a war of attrition.

And to free it, Ukraine will continue to need the military and economic efforts of its allies, without rushing to achieve immediate results.

“The most effective way for Ukraine to regain its advantage is to build an effective and deep defense that reduces its casualties and ammunition needs,” says Franz-Stefan Gady of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). English) from London.

This expert estimates that kyiv will need between 75,000 and 90,000 artillery shells each month to achieve that goal.

“The West must understand that Ukraine's driving force in the war is its ability to inflict great attrition, causing more personal and material casualties than the enemy.”

Gady emphasizes that this is not the time to advance on the ground, but to defend against Russian attacks and reconstitute their forces to gain an advantage on the battlefield later.

“Ukraine and Western countries enjoy an overall resource advantage [over Russia], and attrition may prove important in achieving victory.”

A defensive strategy

“Last summer's counteroffensive is what has really exhausted the Ukrainians in terms of men and weapons, as happened to Russia after the invasion,” insists Fouillet, the French analyst.

“Now they need to resist and mobilize new troops to rotate soldiers,” he adds.

“Ukraine has to recover, find new means of combat, get new supplies from the West.

That is the reason why it is in a defensive logic.

It is time to regenerate your strength and waste as little time as possible.

Ukraine needs more men, more material.

And that is not achieved in a moment.”

Since December, the Ukrainian Parliament has been debating a mobilization bill whose initial objective was to recruit 500,000 new soldiers, but the initiative has met with strong social rejection that contrasts with the massive influx of volunteers that occurred when the war began two years ago.

If morale is low, financial doubts don't help either.

The president of the United States, Joe Biden, asked Congress last October for additional aid for Ukraine of 56 billion euros, after the funds committed in December 2022 by its largest arms donor were exhausted in the second half of the year. past.

However, the proposal is currently paralyzed due to the rejection of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

The European Union, for its part, has approved an assistance package of 144,000 million euros, of which it has already delivered 77,000.

Of what was actually contributed by European countries as a whole, 35.2 billion correspond to military supplies, according to the latest study by the Kiel Institute of World Economy (IFW), in Germany.

“Now, the biggest risks have nothing to do with the front,” points out Beleskov, the Ukrainian security expert.

“In the US the main problem is the start of the electoral campaign [for the November presidential elections], in which some actors [referring to the Republicans] evaluate aid to Ukraine not from the point of view of its victory or defeat, but rather the chances that their candidate has to win,” he continues.

“If Ukraine does not demonstrate its will and willingness to resist, it will be much easier for those who oppose helping us to achieve their goals.”

Beleskov, like other analysts consulted, also remembers that both the United States and Europe need time to increase the production of weapons and ammunition: “The years 2022 and 2023 have been the period in which we have had the reserves that our partners accumulated until 2022 "Now they are exhausted."

If Western aid is maintained, the most globalized conflict since World War II is going to last for a long time, according to experts.

The president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the current president of the European Union, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, plan to stage that support with a visit to kyiv this Saturday.

“We are doing everything possible to ensure that the war ends as soon as possible,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the US network Fox on Thursday. “The war will only end when the world is ready to stop Putin;

but let's be frank, the world is not prepared, the world is afraid of possible changes in Russia.

“When the world realizes that Putin has crossed all the red lines, this war will end.”

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2024-02-24

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