By Raffaele Crocco.
The black wave that is the new phase of the war in Ukraine is reaching the Mediterranean. The war looks more and more like a huge chess game, with too many players around the table trying to make moves.The story is told by the moves of the various actors: the Russian fleet moved to blockade the US aircraft carrier Truman. A destroyer ship arrived in the Adriatic and the cruiser Varyag barricaded the Otranto channel. NATO ships reacted, deploying in the Ionian Sea.
In short, tension is high and hopes are low, all the time, while the war is almost at day 180. From the military point of view, there is little news. The Russian army continues to push on playing the card of power, of the great mass of impact. In fact, it has not achieved consistent goals. The Ukrainians resist, aiming to wear down the adversary, probably hoping to arrive at the future negotiating table with good cards in hand.
Negotiations that, at the moment, by the UN’s own admission, appear far away. Ukrainian President Zelensky has reiterated that “there will be no peace agreements as long as the Russians occupy even a single metre of Ukraine”. Moscow has responded by deploying planes equipped with state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles in Kaliningrad, the exclave between Poland and Lithuania that is creating tensions with the European Union. Yet another challenge from Putin, which came just as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte reiterated to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltemberg the “need to continue providing military equipment to Kyiv”.
Too many soldiers and many civilians are still dying. Twelve people died in a raid by the Russian army on a residential block of flats in Kharkiv. Another four people died in the east of the country. A never-ending and lethal trickle, which seems to have no end. In Lviv, meanwhile, there was a trilateral meeting between President Zelensky, Turkish leader Erdogan and UN Secretary Guterres. The latter reiterated that the utmost care is needed for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, dangerously at the centre of the conflict: ‘We do not want a new Chernobyl’, he said.
Erdogan, on the other hand, took the opportunity to strike a good blow. He consolidated his role as a possible mediator between Kiev and Moscow, but staked his chips on Ukraine. ‘We support the integrity and territorial sovereignty of Ukraine,’ he stressed at a press conference. And the phrase seemed the perfect prologue to the agreement for the reconstruction of Ukraine’s infrastructure reached with Zelensky, who called the Turkish president’s visit a ‘powerful message of support’ for Ukraine.
As an old and experienced player, Erdogan also sent a message to Vladimir Putin. He said he was ready at any time to host the resumption of peace negotiations that began in Istanbul and were abruptly interrupted. No one, at the moment, thinks it is really possible for this to happen, but for Erdogan it matters little: he has already won his game – that of future business for Turkey.
Cover image:Destroyer Warship, wkimedia