Where is the war going in Ukraine? Doubts and expectations after the withdrawal of Russia

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A new phase of the war, which lasted 270 days and accumulated tens of thousands of deaths and much destruction, began with the Russian withdrawal from Kherson, the only capital in the region that they have kept in their power. This Friday the first flags in the colors of Ukraine were seen in the center of that key city.

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Americans acknowledge that they hold intense and varied meetings even in Moscow prevent the military confrontation from turning into a spiral towards dangerous nuclear alternatives.

In Europe, hit by a difficult economic crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, peace movements are flourishing and polls show that many are willing to make concessions to Moscow in exchange for peace.

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But growing speculations of immediate and concrete negotiations seemed to collapse Thursday night when US President Joe Biden declared that “the conflict in Ukraine will continue until Putin leaves the country.”

The most optimistic received an unexpected cold shower. What is happening? What’s the future?

A very interesting answer was formulated by one of the best skulls in European geopolitics, the Italian Luciano Caracciolo: “Peace is impossible for now. But not a respite “.

According to Caracciolo “we must be aware that true peace is impossible for the moment. If the discussion takes place in the ‘this territory is mine and this is yours’ style, it goes nowhere. A ceasefire, a freezing of the battlefield must be achieved to save lives. Agree on some sort of break now that the harsh winter arrives, which can be very long. To prevent the war from lasting many years, it is necessary to aim for a ceasefire that will serve to open the doors to serious negotiations ”.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov’s response to President Biden’s verbal blow was not abrupt, as many feared, but rather articulate. “Special military operations in Ukraine can be concluded with the achievement of our goals or through peace negotiations, which is possible,” he said.

The president of the United States himself has avoided loading inks. He said the Russian withdrawal from Kherson shows that they “have real problems”. Joe Biden estimated that both sides will be able to “recalibrate their positions over the winter”. And he stressed that “the decision of the United States and Western Europe to face Russian aggression in Ukraine continues”.

The results of the US parliamentary elections, which could be fatal for Biden and the Democratic Party, have undermined the ambitions of a future re-election of former President Donald Trump, who for Putin, his friend, represented a hope for fundamental change.

Weapons

The United States carefully manages arms supplies to Ukraine, which also act as indirect messages to Russian interlocutors. According to The Wall Street newspaperWashington will not give Ukraine advanced drones to prevent a dangerous escalation because they would reach the depths of Russia.

Sources in the Ukrainian military have reported that the Russians are amassing missiles to launch massive new attacks that appeal more to the population than to the battlefields, where Ukraine has the initiative.

The Ukrainians have claimed the delivery of long-range Gray Eagle MQ1C drones. The US refusal aims to avoid supplying weapons capable of penetrating deep into Russian territory. The Gray Eagles request from Kiev has been under consideration for months. That they do not arrive is certainly a clear message to Moscow keep the borders of war under common control.

The great capital of Kyiv is protected from a possible Russian assault with a new defense system with which the US military is actively collaborating. It is a sign that President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that negotiations will begin slowly, perhaps with a truce or a ceasefire. peace is still a long way off.

Ukrainian troops

Ukrainian troops arrived just 15 kilometers from Kherson this Friday. More than 115,000 pro-Russian civilians have been relocated from the city to the left bank of the Dnieper River, the largest in Ukraine. The avant-garde of the 28th Ukrainian Brigade, which entered the town of Kyselivkadem from the north-west, are moving very cautiously because they fear that the Russian withdrawal could hide a bloody trap. But twelve other cities also fell under the control of the Ukrainian advance on the march towards Kherson.

President Zelensky’s adviser, Mykhail Podolyat, said that Russia “pulled Kherson out to turn it into a city of death”. The deadly Russian artillery has been deployed on the left bank of the Dnieper River and the Ukrainians fear that “they want to turn it into a ruined city”.

The Russians also show great activity. They demolished bridges to make it difficult for the Ukrainians to advance towards Kherson, they laid thousands of mines and continuously dug new trenches that extend in a triple line of defense beyond the left bank of the Dnieper.

Cherson has a great strategic value due to its proximity to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia ceded to Ukraine during the Soviet era. The Russians recovered it in 2014, in a conflict that was the prelude to the current war. Crimea serves as a base for the Russian Black Sea fleet.

Crimea will perhaps be the most difficult key to the peace negotiations that should one day come. The Russians refuse to give it up and the Ukrainians consider it their own sacred land as well as a strategic position.

Moscow has changed lines for weeks, declares itself ready to enter into negotiations and blames the Kyiv government. President Zelenski replied that in order to start peace negotiations it is necessary that the Russians first withdraw from the country they invaded and that the territorial integrity of Ukraine be respected.

But Ukrainian intransigence also depends on the agreement of the North American and European allies. After the Russian withdrawal from Kherson, the wind could change.

Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, the Western military alliance, said Wednesday in Rome that “Russia has lost the military initiative in Ukraine” for the withdrawal from Kherson.

He acknowledged that “Moscow was forced to give up the occupied territories after the invasion, but it still has the strength and ability to punish the cities of Ukraine”.

The allies can push for a ceasefire, which the Ukrainians oppose in principle because they believe it would give the Russian military valuable time to rest and regroup.

The distances to deal with the negotiations are abysmal. Perhaps Ukraine will have to resign itself to controlling only part of the Donbas region, in the east of the country, on the border with Russia, which is in the hands of the Russians and pro-Russian settlers.

So far the Ukrainians have refused to make territorial concessions, including Crimea. But these goals are unattainable without the support of allies who know territorial amputations are inevitable.

deaths and damage

The nine months of war caused impressive human and material damage. The US Chief of Staff, General Mark Milleuy, highlighted the assessment that the Russian army has suffered casualties, including deaths and wounds of about 100,000 soldiers. A similar calculation compensates for Ukrainian losses.

The British government believes that Russia is “slowly losing” the war in Ukraine.

The UK is the leading European supplier of arms and military training to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace assured that European support against the Russian invasion “will continue in the face of an illegal invasion in defense of the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine”. This determination is also a direct message to the Kremlin in favor of a ceasefire and peace negotiations.

Rome, correspondent

CB

Source: Clarin

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