Ukraine 2023: Foggy Future? – OpEd


I have been Crystal-Gazing at the events of the recent past; Climate disasters, geopolitical tensions, conflicts, confrontations, sky rocketing food and energy prices and above all the COVID-19 pandemic. The sudden outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict early 2022 has now crossed over to 2023 with a gloomy hope of coming to an early end.

The Ukraine war is a result of the long-term US security concerns away from their borders. The US remains the ultimate culprit being the world’s biggest instigator of conflicts among nations culminating into wars. US aspires to contain Russia and in the bargain enriching its military industrial complex with tens of billions of dollars of lucrative military supplies and assets to Ukraine. President Biden has not so far been able to explain to Americans why this conflict and why Americans should continue to sacrifice for Ukrainians. 2022 has been an year of chaos and confusion for the world at large and Ukraine-Europe in particular because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

Ukrainian President Zelensky’s trip to the US was shrouded in secrecy. Zelensky in an impassioned speech before US Congress said “His country would never surrender in its fight against Russia and urged Washington to ramp up military aid”. The Ukrainian leader thanked Washington policy makers for approving tens of billions of dollars in aid for Kyiv. “Your support is crucial,” he said. But he added, “Is it enough? Honestly, not really.”

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in an article opines that Ukraine should achieve ‘peace through negotiation’ in order to avoid a third world war. Kissinger’s premise is based on the belief that Russia is an invaluable member of the European security order and a great power that is destined to play a part in shaping events on the continent. French President Emmanuel Macron echoes the same views. But with Ukrainian President Zelensky’s resolve to fight on and President Biden’s additional aid of around $1.8 billion will not let the war come to an early end. It includes for the first time a Patriot antimissile battery and other equipment.

President Zelensky Determined to Regain Lost Territories

President Zelensky is determined to regain the lost territories including Crimea. The successes achieved in counter offensives in Kharkiv and Kherson in October 2022 has raised the spirits of the Ukrainian armed forces for further offensives. However given limitations of the Ukrainian armed forces and anticipation of a Russian offensive, Ukraine may choose to remain on the defensive at least during the winter months. Much will depend on the dictates of the US and support that it continues providing.  

‘Winter General’ Fighting Shift in Aims

The predictions on the ‘Winter General’ have gone awry. There has been no move on ceasefire nor there have been assaults of the close combat nature. Ukraine has already destroyed the myth of Russian military invincibility. The war is shifting to targeting specific targets. Ukraine appears to be targeting Russian troop concentrations to lower the morale and fighting spirit of the Russian troops. Whereas Russia is focusing on destroying infrastructure especially those producing power so essential to keep the Ukrainians warm during winter is an indication to break Ukrainian resistance. With the US considering expanding its support for the war in Ukraine and Pentagon announcing to extending training for the Ukrainian military the cold Ukrainian winter promises to be a blazing battlefield. Many wishful commentators are suggesting and hoping if Russia loses its war in Ukraine, the country will disintegrate. 

In October, President Joe Biden’s administration belatedly published its National Security Strategy; “Russia poses an immediate threat to the free and open international system, recklessly flouting the basic laws of the international order today, as its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine has shown.” China, meanwhile, is “the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to advance that objective.” So what will the US do :

  • US will assemble the strongest possible coalitions to advance and defend a world that is free, open, prosperous and secure.
  • US will prioritize maintaining an enduring competitive edge over the PRC while constraining a still profoundly dangerous Russia.
  • US must ensure strategic competitors cannot exploit foundational American and allied technologies, know-how, or data to undermine American and allied security.

Ukraine is now acting as the Eastern Front and a buffer state to fight the ‘Proxy War’ for the West and NATO to contain Russia like the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of India acted for the British Empire in India between the Wild West Afghanistan. NWFP now part of Pakistan and redesignated as the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on 19 April 2010.NATO has increased its forces along its eastern front, rushed military and economic aid to Ukraine and sustained support despite some challenges

This war sees no early end as the military of both sides remain intact, people are willing to continue fighting exhorted by their leaders. The popular voice of the times is that we need peace rather than war, development   and cooperation rather than confrontation. Even the Indian Prime minister Modi has told President Putin that “The Era is of No War.” In his 2023 New Year’s message, UN Secretary-General said that “in 2023, we need peace, now more than ever.” Unfortunately, the war is going to continue for a long time as Zelensky and Putin both are determined to win the Ukraine War. Thus the peace prospects into early 2023 are bleak. Hoping against hope that the bleak, gloomy and foggy future does bring an early end to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Patial RC

Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army and possesses unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Patial RC is a regular writer on military and travel matters in military professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.

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