The war in Ukraine is about to enter its second calendar year. We asked several military analysts what the consequences of the conflict would be in 2023.
Can it end in the year it started? And how will that work out on the battlefield or at the negotiating table? Or can it continue until 2024?
‘Russia’s spring attack will be key’
Michael Clarke, deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies in Exeter, England
Those who try to invade another country anywhere in the Great Eurasian steppes are doomed to spend the winter there.
Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin had to keep their armies on the move in the face of the steppe winter, and now with their invasion retreating, Russian President Vladimir Putin is massing his winter forces to prepare for a new spring offensive.
Both sides need a break, but the Ukrainians are better equipped and motivated to move forward, and we can expect them to maintain the pressure, at least in Donbass.
Near Kreminna and Svatove, they are very close to a major breakthrough that will pull Russian forces back 40 miles (64 kilometers) to their next natural line of defense, close to where the invasion actually started in February.
Kyiv will be reluctant to stop as long as the immediate payoff is too great. But Ukrainian attacks may stall in the southwest after Kherson’s recapture.
Crossing the eastern bank of the Dnipro River can be very difficult to put pressure on Russia’s fragile road and rail links to Crimea. However, the possibility of Kiev launching a new surprise attack cannot be ruled out.
The determining factor for 2023 will be the fate of Russia’s spring offensive. Putin acknowledged that about 50,000 newly recruited reservists are already at the front; Another 250,000 newly mobilized people are training for the next year.
Until the fate of these new Russian forces is determined on the battlefield, there is no room for anything but more war.
A brief and shaky truce is the only other possibility. Putin has made it clear that he will not stop. And Ukraine has made it clear that it is still fighting for its existence.
‘Ukraine will take back its lands’
Andrei Piontkovsky, scientist and analyst based in Washington DC, USA
By the spring of 2023 at the latest, Ukraine will regain its territorial integrity by fully restoring it. Two factors lead to this result.
One of them is the motivation, determination and courage of the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian nation as a whole, unmatched in the history of modern warfare.
The other is that after years of appeasing a Russian dictator, the West finally realized the enormity of the historic challenge it faced. This is best illustrated by a recent statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“The price we pay is money. Ukrainians pay in blood. If authoritarian regimes see power rewarded, we will all pay a much greater price. And the world will be a brighter one.” we.”
The precise timing of Ukraine’s inevitable victory will be determined by the speed with which NATO delivers a new game-changing package of military offensive weapons (tanks, planes, long-range missiles).
My expectation is that in the coming months (maybe weeks) Melitopol will become the main battleground. Having conquered Melitopol, the Ukrainians will easily move to the Sea of Azov, effectively cutting the supply and communication lines with Crimea.
Russia’s surrender will be formally decided in technical negotiations after Ukraine’s devastating advance on the battlefield.
The victorious powers, Ukraine, UK, USA, will define a new international security architecture.
‘The end is in sight’
Barbara Zanchetta, Department of War Studies, King’s College London, United Kingdom
Vladimir Putin expected Ukraine’s most powerful neighbor to passively accept its actions without significant interference from other countries. This serious miscalculation led to a long conflict with no end in sight.
Winter will be tough as Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure will seek to undermine the morale and resilience of an already devastated population. But Ukraine’s resilience has been remarkable. They will stand firm. The war will be prolonged. Continuously.
Trade prospects are bleak. For a possible peace agreement, at least one side’s basic demands must change. There is no evidence that this has happened or will happen anytime soon.
So how will it end?
Both the material and human costs of the war could undermine the commitment of Russia’s political elite. The key will be inside Russia.
Past wars in which miscalculation was a crucial element, such as Vietnam for the United States or Afghanistan for the Soviet Union, only ended in this way. Internal political conditions in the miscalculated country have changed, making the withdrawal of “honorable” or otherwise “honorable” soldiers the only viable option.
However, this can only happen if the West resolutely continues to support Ukraine in the face of increasing internal pressure due to the cost of the war.
Unfortunately, this will continue to be a long struggle for political, economic and military determination. And by the end of 2023 it will probably still be going on.
“There is no other result but the defeat of Russia”
Ben Hodges, former Commander of the United States Army in Europe
It is too early to plan a victory march in Kiev, but all the momentum is in Ukraine right now and I have no doubt that they will probably win this war in 2023.
Things will go slower in the winter, but there’s no doubt that Ukrainian forces will cope better than Russia’s because of all the winter gear from Britain, Canada and Germany.
By January, Ukraine may be in a position to start the final phase of the campaign for the liberation of Crimea.
We know from history that war is a test of endurance and logistics. When I see the determination of the Ukrainian people and soldiers and the rapid improvement in Ukraine’s logistics situation, I see no other result than the defeat of Russia.
Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson partly led me to this conclusion. First, as psychological support to the Ukrainian people; secondly, as a deep shame for the Kremlin; and third, all approaches to Crimea are now within range of Ukrainian weapons systems, giving Ukrainian forces a significant operational advantage.
I believe by the end of 2023 Crimea will be fully back under Ukrainian control and sovereignty, but there may be some sort of agreement that allows Russia to phase out some of its naval presence in Sevastopol, perhaps by the end of the deal. around 2025), before the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia.
Efforts to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure will continue along the Sea of Azov coast, including the key ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, with the reopening of the North Crimean Canal, which diverts water from the Dnipro River to Crimea. will draw attention.
‘Expect more of the same’
David Gendelman, military expert based in Tel Aviv, Israel
Instead of “how it will end” here is what both sides want to achieve next.
Only half of the 300,000 reservists deployed from Russia are already in the war zone. The rest, with forces released to mobilize after withdrawing from Kherson, give the Russians an opportunity to launch an offensive.
The occupation of Lugansk and Donetsk regions will continue, but a major Russian advance is less likely, such as moving south to Pavlograd to encircle the Ukrainian forces in the Donbass.
As in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka regions, probably the continuation of the existing tactics with the same tactics in the Svatove-Kreminna region, the slow destruction and slow advance of the Ukrainian forces in limited directions is more likely.
Continued targeting of Ukrainian energy infrastructure and new attacks on the Ukrainian rear will complete this war of attrition strategy.
Significant Ukrainian forces were also liberated following the Russian withdrawal from Kherson. The most strategically valuable direction for them is to the south, towards Melitopol or Berdyansk, in order to divide the Russian continental corridor into the Crimea. This would be a great Ukrainian victory, which is exactly why the Russians are strengthening Melitopol.
Another option for Ukraine is Svatove ? A success there would endanger the entire northern side of the Russian front line.
The question is how many Ukrainian forces are now free and available for attack, and what timetable is on General Zaluzhnyi’s desk that the new brigades and reserves being formed will be ready in one, two or three months. Now including human resources, armored vehicles and heavy weapons.
After the mud freezes, we will have the answer to this question. And this answer will get us a little closer to the “how will this end” issue.
Analysts were chosen for their military knowledge and versatile perspectives.
– This text was published at https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-64100837.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.