Snakes and ladders with high stakes

Russia's conflict with Ukraine

Russia’s conflict with Ukraine

Russia Russia – It is still too early to determine who ultimately prevailed in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. However, the four months of conflict serve as a sharp reminder of the misery and unpredictability of war and the fact that it is simpler to start a war than to finish one.

It is yet unclear if this fight will be fought to the death, reach a standstill, become frozen, have no end, or be determined by the use of weapons of mass devastation. Or perhaps a resounding win would present a fresh chance for a rules-based system and, in Europe, the opportunity to resume the unfinished business of 1945 and 1989?

The Russian government’s choice to focus its offensive in Donbas rather than try to conquer all of Ukraine is now beginning to pay results. Severodonetsk in the Luhansk Oblast, 730 kilometers southeast of Kiev, has been taken by Moscow, giving it control over the region’s supply routes.

Although it doesn’t exactly scream victory, this also doesn’t portend defeat. A larger bridgehead in the east will set the stage for upcoming offensives and signal a pause rather than an end. Realisticism must be used to temper all of the jubilant and complacent discourse about an unquestionable Ukrainian triumph. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, is unconcerned with the devastating losses of soldiers and equipment.

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Unkept promises and self-interest

Many of the promised munitions have not yet arrived at the front lines of battle despite all the promises made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. According to Ukraine, the West is only giving 10% of what Kyiv has demanded. In Western nations with high rates of inflation and rising energy prices, self-interest may triumph over internal politics.

Russia is earning more money elsewhere in the world for the gas, oil, and raw materials it exports, restocking its war chest. If Mr. Putin’s blockade of food supply to developing countries is not lifted, it will be an example of his capacity to cause immense suffering.

Putin makes few indications that he wants a deal, and he won’t unless the pain of sanctions or internal strife begins to really bite. He finds encouragement in the idiotic, defeatist laugh of Western intellectuals who advise the courageous Ukrainians to cede their sovereign territory in order to appease the Russian leader. These indicators suggest to a protracted conflict that has lasted for many years.

Not according to plan

But the war has obviously not gone as planned for Russia in this deadly game of snakes and ladders, in which the fortunes of warriors rise and fall.

Mr. Putin outlined his goals in a 5,000 word essay titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” in July 2021.

It is the Kremlin leader’s own-brand blend of nationalistic bombast, racist superiority, and mystical religiosity, based on an almost biblical insistence that Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are decedents of ancient Kyivan Rus. Mercifully shorter than the 153,000 words in “Mein Kampf,” in which Hitler outlined his pernicious anti-Semitic Aryan ideology.

Keep in mind that Hitler, too, never tried to hide his desire for all German-speaking countries in Europe to become a part of Germany. Additionally, President Putin frequently asserts that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people” in a similar spirit.

He challenges the legality of Ukraine’s borders and status as a sovereign nation, aligns himself with the imperial princes and tsars, and incites anxiety about foreign machinations and anti-Russian conspiracies. I was surprised to see that NATO’s existence is hardly mentioned at all.

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