It's been more than 150 days of Putin's relentless invasion, and a clear-eyed view of the war now is neither side is winning. This will make bold decisions by Ukraine's allies essential to any hope for victory.
KYIV — The Ukrainian army received high-precision long-range artillery systems on July 18, prompting the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi to declare that after the occupation of the eastern cities of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk, the Armed Forces had managed to stabilize the situation.
In fact, a better way to characterize the situation is that we've been in a stalemate since June. The enemy is no longer able to actively attack, and the defenders cannot yet counter-attack.
Almost daily, the authorities and people of Ukraine confirm the unpleasant dependence of Ukraine on external factors. This dependence is absolute, and fundamental to the result. Perhaps this war is the start of the nation, and will become a harbinger of the development of Ukraine as a whole.
Putin's dirty tactics
Meanwhile, observing the events, we form a complex and somewhat dead-end perception of the current phase of the war. Putin's Kremlin is making titanic efforts to restore the forces and means of warfare, seeking to exhaust Ukraine in order to capture at least one major city.
It is clear that Putin is targeting Kharkiv, a symbolic, sacred city that was once the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. If Kharkiv is occupied, the bloody dictator would turn part of the captured area into a “parallel” state, the so-called Putin's Ukraine, through repression, information and psychological manipulations.
So far, the Russian ruler is trying by all means to form reserves. Apart from instructing vassals in the regions to recruit "volunteer battalions" and convicts, he is making another attempt to drag mercenaries into the war. Private military companies, financed by oligarchs, have sharply and significantly reduced the requirements for candidates. Putin also introduced the forced mobilization of the occupied territories of Ukraine, when people are sometimes misled to be enlisted. Moreover, the Russians torture their own soldiers who refuse to fight.
A Ukrainian soldier observes the ruins of a destroyed residential house in Slovyansk
Russia's limited resources
Also in Russia, cadet and junior army classes are being opened on a massive scale. Ukrainian military intelligence data indicates the opening of 500 new cadet classes and 1,000 junior army classes in Belgorod, close to the Ukrainian border, and the Belgorod region alone. It is noteworthy that cadets are also recruited for the war in Russia, and the junior army itself accepts volunteers aged from eight to 18 years. Putin is trying to transfer his personal hatred of Ukraine to the Russian youth in order to leave behind enmity for many decades.
The war will transform into a frozen conflict.
Regarding weapons, in addition to the old Soviet equipment, which is gradually being used in the Russian Federation, Moscow is trying to get weapons from Iran and components for military equipment in China. In an effort to achieve this goal, Putin even visited Tehran. However, the Americans, keeping a close eye on Iran, have not yet confirmed such deliveries. In any case, it is increasingly difficult for Russia to attack because in order to intensify the offensive in one sector, the military command is forced to weaken in others. And the results are immediate — the Ukrainian army makes effective fire attacks in such areas.
Having received the HIMARS MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System), the Armed Forces of Ukraine began to destroy Russian ammunition depots. High-precision strikes by the Armed Forces of Ukraine burn not only warehouses and equipment, but also the headquarters of the enemy’s manpower. The Ukrainian Defense Forces have significantly increased the pace of weakening the command staff of the Russian army. Observers reported a real surge in the death toll precisely two weeks after using high-precision multiple launch rocket systems.
Fear of the end of Putin
The war continues and so far it is difficult to determine the winner. During July, the invader troops advanced in some directions, but retreated in others. Almost every day, the Armed Forces of Ukraine strike the enemy. However, the military is more than ever awaiting the decision of politicians. So, the statement by James Stavridis, the former Supreme Commander of the Allied Armed Forces of NATO in Europe, is probably justified. He believes that the war will transform into a frozen conflict. According to the general, this could happen "in four to six months," since the military confrontation has "bogged down on both sides."
Just like the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953 and ended with an armistice between North and South Korea, but an official peace treaty has not yet been signed formally and both countries are still at war. General Stavridis sees and assesses the situation as a professional military man, but for Ukrainians his words carry the most important message: Ukrainian interests must be defended by Ukrainians — neither the Americans nor the British will do this.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, one of the main lobbyists for Ukrainian interests, is gradually advocating the need for a tougher response to Russian aggression, in particular the no-fly zone over Ukraine. Therefore, according to experts, the Ukrainian Air Force can get both the F-15 Eagle and F-16 U.S. fighter planes. At the same time, deliveries of the F-16, a multi-purpose aircraft capable of striking both air and ground targets, are considered the most likely. The F-16 is also reliable. It operates at high speed, is able to gain altitude in vertical flight and can carry up to 10.5 tons of weapons.
However, one general noted that there is no final decision on the training of Ukrainian pilots in the United States yet, although this issue is being examined. It seems that the transfer of combat aircraft to Ukraine is being built as a long-term process, because “taking away” the Ukrainian sky from Moscow could be the beginning of the end of Putin's regime. Many in the West frankly fear this more than leaving the territories occupied in 2022 to Putin.
What will happen next?
So, the overall picture looks like this: all the important topics regarding powerful weapons are being discussed, but we will have to wait for the result, perhaps for a long time. Ukraine is currently integrated into the general security system of NATO because the Alliance cannot afford to ignore its interests. However, support for Ukraine in matters of weapons and sanctions will not go beyond the scope of these NATO-European interests.
For Ukraine, there are too many external factors in this war beyond its control.
Ukraine is in the geostrategic center of events. Much in the world today depends precisely on the ability of the Ukrainians, and above all its army, to make an active attempt to effectively contain Putin's horde and prepare a successful counteroffensive.
It is quite likely that successful military operations in the south of the country, especially the liberation of Kherson and the expulsion of the Russian occupiers all the way to the sea, that is, depriving the invaders of the land corridor to the Crimea, can significantly affect the balance of power and change the course of the entire war. On the other hand, the likely advance of Putin's bloody occupation deep into the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions can reinforce the fears of the West.
For Ukraine, there are too many external factors in this war beyond its control. The positions of China and Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Germany and France can be decisive in influencing further war scenarios. Ukraine is able to win — if they allow us to do so.
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