Kyiv — For about a month, the front line has remained almost unchanged. Russian troops went as far as they could.
Obviously, this situation annoys the Kremlin, forcing it to look for new, unconventional ways to replenish human reserves and spent weapons. But Moscow is also playing for time, believing the onset of cold weather will play into its hands, as a looming energy crisis spreads across Europe.
Moreover, Putin needs time to restore the combat capability of the Russian army. For this very reason, a day after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a deliberate slowdown in the military campaign in Ukraine, ostensibly to reduce civilian casualties, Putin issued a decree to increase the size of the Russian military.
The important overlooked point is that the increase in the number of Russian armed forces by 137,000 soldiers (up to 2.04 million people) is planned for 2023. That is, Putin is trying to regain the initiative he lost a month ago and shape what war will look like in the future.
Late support from the West
The White House was ready for such a course of events. Because the very next day, that is August 26, the administration of US President Joe Biden carefully “leaked” information to The Wall Street Journal big plans to announce within weeks a long-term military mission to support Ukraine and even to appoint a separate general responsible for military-technical assistance and training of the Ukrainian army.
However, despite the fact that global intentions have been announced, the content and pace of implementation of such an ambitious task are still unknown. In the meantime, this is precisely what will demonstrate the willingness or unwillingness of Ukraine’s partners to end the war by the end of 2022.
That the Ukrainian armed forces are ready to liberate southern Ukraine by the end of the year has been widely discussed by many politicians, including the outspoken British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the summit of the NATO in Madrid.
It’s been a month since Ukraine regained momentum at the front
It seemed logical and realistic: due to their resilience, the Ukrainian army deserved qualitative changes in favor of modern weapons. It’s been a month since Ukraine regained momentum from the front against Russia, but strategic advantages require other attributes.
There is still a high risk of a counter-offensive – the Armed Forces of Ukraine have not yet received powerful medium-range air defense systems. And it is likely that its partners did not supply (at least in significant quantities) operational and tactical missiles, as well as attack drones and tanks.
Hang around until spring
It is quite clear why the West is in no hurry to speed up the development of events. The artificial energy crisis created by the Kremlin in Europe, Putin’s rather successful nuclear blackmail, and the reluctance of some politicians to depose Putin have made the idea of too much aid to Ukraine unappealing.
The Biden administration, for reasons of political expediency, does not pay attention to an obvious fact that has been repeatedly confirmed by military experts. In other words, if new advanced weapons are not supplied to Ukraine in the two or three months before the cold weather, the war could drag on until spring, which is exactly what Putin wants.
And even if things go badly for Putin, the resources of the Russian Federation will be more than enough to mobilize a certain number of people and find weapons – this already guarantees the continuation of a protracted and exhausting war. It probably could have been avoided if the West had acted more decisively.
The future of war
Recently, the famous American general Ben Hodges pointed out that Ukraine needed long-range missiles and even more artillery to launch a major counter-offensive. He appealed to the fact that the Ukrainian armed forces do not have enough weapons to have a “decisive effect”.
Among other things, the general provided a strong argument, addressing the American military and political establishment: After the attack on the Saki air base, the Russians began to urgently leave Crimea and did not showed no initiative to protect the “holy land” of the peninsula, indicating a clear understanding that Crimea is not their land.
Hodges said the duration of the war in Ukraine largely depended on the ability of the United States to keep its promises, in particular to deliver the promised weapons. He also said he believed Russia could be pushed back to the February 23 line by the end of the year.
The duration of the war in Ukraine largely depends on the ability of the United States to keep its promises.
Ukraine’s rearmament process takes time. Moreover, a part is already lost. Thus, the forecasts of Western experts about the start of the expulsion of Russian invaders from the occupied territories refer mainly to the first half of 2023. But the lack of conviction from the West means a difficult and bloody future for Ukraine.
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