In a blitzkrieg, Ukrainian forces continued pushing deep into Kharkiv region, taking back more than 3,000 sq km of territory from occupying Russian forces. In fact, Ukraine’s general staff said today that its soldiers had recaptured more than 20 towns and villages in the last 24 hours. The push marks a serious collapse of Russian forces in Ukraine’s northeast. Although Moscow has acknowledged the retreat and framed it in more tactical terms – it has called the development a regrouping exercise – it cannot be denied that this is a serious reverse. In fact, Russian nationalists have begun questioning Kremlin about the collapse, highlighting the scale of the shift in momentum. 

True, this by no means marks a beginning of the end to the war. Russia can launch counter-offensives to turn around its losses. However, the latest battleground developments mark the second biggest Ukrainian success after the Russian push on Kyiv was repulsed in the earlier part of the war. With the EU and US continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons and actionable intelligence, the war is turning into a veritable marathon. That is unfavourable for Russia which wanted a quick victory. 

Plus, everyone in Europe knows that the coming winter will be tough given the continent’s dependence on Russian energy for heating and industrial activities. But that threat hitherto hasn’t shaken the EU’s resolve to support Ukraine. And if Europe does tide over this winter, dependence on Russian energy is set to drop dramatically next year. That will dilute a big Russian leverage in the war. And in a war of attrition EU- and US-supported Ukraine stands a far better chance than a Russia under international sanctions. 

The war in Ukraine is certainly not going according to plan for Russia. True, any war has its ebbs and flows. But the longer the war stretches, Russia’s resolve and resources will be seriously tested. It’s not looking good for Kremlin at the moment.  

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