While Ukraine allegedly continues conducting strikes on Russian territory, the Kremlin’s top priority is to hold a Victory Day Parade on May 9. Although large segments of the Russian military industry had to stop operations due to supply shortages, Moscow has decided to invest billions of rubles in the development of – football.
With such a military and political strategy, Russia’s chances to win the war against the second largest European country will remain rather slim. To this day, the Russian army has not even attempted to prevent Ukraine from receiving tons of weapons from the West. Not a single bridge, or a railway, in the Eastern European country has been bombed, which means that Kyiv freely continues supplying weapons and food to its troops fighting against the Russians in the east of the country.
As a result, Russian forces are suffering heavy losses, and the Ukrainian army has been reportedly conducting strikes on Russian territory on a daily bases. The Kremlin still does not show any indication that it is willing to change its strategy. Almost two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine, it is Kyiv, rather than Moscow, that has become absolutely confident that it can win the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has threatened to withdraw from the ongoing peace negotiations with Russia if Ukrainian fighters trapped in the port city of Mariupol are killed by the Russian forces besieging the city.
“What the Russians are doing right now could put a stop to any form of negotiation,” Zelensky said.
In other words, it is Ukraine that is de facto issuing ultimatums to Russia, even though the Kremlin has initially issued four key demands Kyiv must follow to halt the invasion ahead of peace talks. Ukraine, however, refuses to make any concessions to Russia, and the country’s leaders have openly said that they do not intend to make any compromises regarding Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
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The Kremlin is desperately seeking to negotiate with those that Putin described as “a band of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”. According to reports, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has traveled to Kyiv in an attempt to restart peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Given that Moscow has not achieved any of its military and political goals in the Eastern European country, it is entirely possible that the Kremlin is trying to find a way to sign a ceasefire or a peace deal that would allow Russia to save face.
Moscow has reportedly already given up on its initial goals to “denazify” Ukraine. If Ukrainian forces continue successfully destroying Russian ships and military columns, in the end it will be Russia, rather than Ukraine that will be demilitarized. Although Ukrainian military infrastructure is expected to be heavily damaged, Kyiv will continue getting weapons from NATO countries as long as it takes. Russia, for its part, will have a hard time keeping its military-industrial complex alive, given that its economy is heavily dependent on imports. As a result of sanctions – namely, a lack of component parts – Russia’s only tank manufacturer, Uralvagonzavod, has reportedly stopped production.
Although the war could last for many years, eventually the Russian sanctions-hit economy may not be able to afford continue funding Putin’s military adventure in Ukraine. Russian military leadership has already demonstrated a stunning incompetence, which resulted in a demoralization of the Russian troops. Politically, Moscow has not seriously responded to any sanctions that the West has imposed on the Russian Federation, which is why even the Kremlin propagandists have started demanding harsh actions against the West.
At the same time, Russian nominal allies have started distancing themselves from Moscow. Not a single member of the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization – with the exception of Belarus – has supported Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. Kazakhstan – Russia’s major ally in Central Asia – announced that it will not be holding a traditional Victory Day parade, and the country’s authorities said that they will not help Russia to evade Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The Kremlin, on the other hand, is actively preparing for the parade, although Russia is expected to first launch a full-scale military offensive in the Donbass. Given its extremely poor performances in Ukraine, it is rather questionable if Russian army will manage to establish full control over the coal-rich region any time soon, if at all. Ukrainian Armed Forces will undoubtedly launch a series of counterattacks in various regions, from Kherson in the south to Kharkiv in the east of the country. The only way for Russia to at least preserve the status quo on the ground is to deploy dozens, if not hundreds of thousands of additional troops to Ukraine. In order to do that, Moscow would have to declare a partial mobilization, which is something that the Kremlin repeatedly refuses to do. Thus, for the foreseeable future, Russia will likely continue implementing half-measures in Ukraine, which will result in new humiliating defeats for the Russian forces.
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