The periodic analysis on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by our Director, Italian journalist Raffaele Crocco.
Some of the experts, including the analysts at Defence Analysis, have started to draw a bleak scenario for the spring. Citing sources in Moscow, they claim that the next Russian spring offensive will be entrusted to rapid deployment brigades, protected by aviation and artillery. Once the terrain deemed necessary has been conquered, these brigades will withdraw, replaced by engineer specialists. These would burn what remains of the Ukrainian infrastructure to the ground: roads, bridges, railways, the power grid, radio communication towers, in short, everything. Their aim would be to create a huge ’empty space’, a security buffer, between ‘pro-Western’ Ukraine and the borders of the Russian Federation. A demilitarised ‘no man’s land’, capable of keeping Ukrainian – and NATO – weapons away from Russian territory.
Political fantasy? Perhaps, but speaking are men and women who are experts in military affairs, who at the dawn of day 351 since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, are reading not only into the military developments, but also analysing the political ones. On the ground, to date, there may be more than 200,000 dead, an impressive number in a contemporary war. There is also, to date, the obvious inability of one side to prevail over the other. This is the real roadblock to any negotiations, since Kyiv, legitimately, has no intention of leaving slices of its territory to Moscow, and Putin, the aggressor, is too committed to accept the idea of withdrawing. The result is a deadly stalemate, destined to last even with the arrival of the two battalions of Leopard2 tanks – 80 vehicles – from Europe, the 31 Abrams tanks from the US and a number of armoured vehicles from Great Britain. These resources, military analysts say, will not allow Kyiv to turn the tide of the war. President Zelensky knows this well: it is no coincidence that he insists on the need to send hundreds of tanks and fighter planes. What Ukraine will do, thanks to these supplies, is to block the Russian offensive and regenerate a stalemate that could last for years.
For this reason, in the European chancelleries the thesis of the ‘security strip’ is starting to make its way, as a possible solution to at least reach a ceasefire and start peace talks there. At the moment everything seems distant and improbable. Zelensky was very clear on his European tour in these days of February 2023. From London, Paris and Brussels, he reiterated that by now ‘the situation has become irreversible and I think the Russians have done everything to make it so. Now it is too late. Our people will never forget’. Words that lock the door to negotiations, at least for the moment. Diplomacy, however, is working, looking for ways forward, and from this point of view the European idea of applying economic sanctions to the CIna if it were to help – militarily and otherwise – Russia could become an interesting crossroads. For the first time, Beijing would really be called on the stage in this war and Chinese economic interests in Europe are really too strong to leave it indifferent.
On the ground, in the meantime, Russian bombardments continue relentlessly. The Ukrainian oblast of Kharkiv was hit this week, killing at least two people and wounding five. Artillery attacks hit residential buildings in the Kupiansk district. More bombs, more civilians killed. The horror continues.
Cover image: Andriyko Podilnyk, Unsplash