The war in Ukraine has been going on for almost five months. There seems no end in sight as both sides are sending more weapons and troops to the frontlines. Indeed, peace through negotiations seems more unlikely now than it was earlier in the war.
No peace negotiations any time soon
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense touched on the lack of peace talks.
“Despite 13 July 2022 talks between delegations from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the UN on grain exports and recent successfully negotiated prisoner exchanges, the prospects for wider talks to end the conflict remain low,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Although there were a few rounds of peace talks at the onset of the conflict, right now, neither of the two sides has any real incentive to sit down for honest peace talks. Both Kyiv and Moscow believe that they have the upper hand and that given enough time, they will emerge victorious. To get to that point, a few things had to happen.
The Russian case
When the first Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border on the night of February 24, the Kremlin had ambitious goals for the war. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his advisers believed in a blitzkrieg operation that would last anywhere between 72 hours and two weeks. The goal was to reach Kyiv, topple Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government, and install a puppet leader and government to do the bidding of Moscow.
When a special operation to take out Zelensky failed and then Russian troops started to flounder on the outskirts of Kyiv, Moscow just sent in more forces to push on and capture the Ukrainian capital. But by then it was too late as the Western, military-aid hose had opened up. Weapon systems of all kinds, but especially the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank weapon, FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missile, and the Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW), were arriving in Ukraine. The Russian advance stalled and then stopped, forcing the Kremlin to a humiliating retreat from Kyiv.
In May, the Russian military began its renewed offensive in the Donbas. And despite very slow progress, the Russian forces have been steadily gaining ground. Luhansk province is now in Russian hands. If Moscow can capture all of next-door Donetsk province, the whole of Donbas will be Russian. If the Donbas falls, Moscow will control much of eastern and southern Ukraine, where the majority of heavy industry and natural resources of the country are located.
The Ukrainian case
Ukraine has lost good chunks of territory in the east and south, including the strategically important city of Kherson and the whole of Luhansk province, and thus half of the Donbas. However, the Ukrainians are optimistic about the prospects of winning the war and recapturing any lost territory (perhaps with the exception of Crimea). Their confidence mainly stems from the Western support they have been receiving.
Since the war started, Kyiv has received close to $10 billion in security aid from the U.S. alone, with dozens of other countries chipping in. This military aid has been adjusted to the operational needs of the Ukrainian forces.
Now that the war in the Donbas is one in which long-range fires play a crucial role, the West has sent close to 200 155mm howitzers of different types to Kyiv, in addition to about a dozen High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that enable the Ukrainian forces to precisely target Russian positions and ammunition depots far behind the frontlines. These weapons allow the Ukrainians to effectively counter the Russians on the battlefield.
Despite their losses, which are estimated to be between 100 to 200 troops killed every day, the Ukrainians believe that they can win.
There is, moreover, a moral and personal aspect to the war for the Ukrainians. After losing thousands of civilians in airstrikes and hundreds in summary executions, the Ukrainian people are determined to fight to the end. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky now enjoys a broad mandate to pursue the war to the end and push the Russian troops out of Ukrainian soil.
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