When will the war in Ukraine end?
Six months into the military conflict, Russia and Ukraine are firmly entrenched in their positions, a Northeast expert says, which offers little hope for peace in the near future.
On August 24, Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day, which also marked the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion. The day was filled with Russian artillery and air raids, according to the Ministry of Defense of Ukrainemainly in the front areas and the Russian-controlled areas in the east, with some bombardment in the north-east and central Ukraine.
The positions are becoming more and more solid and the front line is becoming clearer and clearer.
Pablo Calderon Martinez, Northeastern University-London
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the courage of his people over the past six months as he addressed the day the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union 31 years ago.
“It doesn’t matter to us what kind of army you have, what matters to us is our country. We will fight for it to the end,” said Zelenskyy.
With Russia using the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine as a shield recent car bombing near Moscowit becomes really difficult to see a path to peace, says Pablo Calderon Martinez, assistant professor of politics and international relations at Northeastern University-London.
“What we have seen in recent weeks is really an intensification, not necessarily of the armed conflict, but certainly an intensification of the positions of the two [sides]’ says Calderon Martinez.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has become less intense but will be difficult to resolve, he says.
“What we’re seeing here is this constant violation of the traditional rules of engagement, the rules of war,” says Calderon Martinez.
He suggests the conflict may be turning into a “new war,” a term coined by British academic Mary Kaldor. New wars are ongoing, low-intensity conflicts that are becoming less predictable and less asymmetric, says Calderon Martinez.
“We see that this is the case with Ukraine and Russia, [which is] simply unable to defeat the Ukrainian army,” he says.
The initial goal of a new war is eventually lost, he says, and the conflict continues for the sake of the conflict.
Power plant takeover is not an uncommon strategic military objective; However, Russia has shown it is not interested in compromise by using the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant as a shield, says Calderon Martinez. Instead, due to the high risk of a nuclear accident, which is a very dangerous strategy, Russia has created a sense of confusion and panic in the international community and local population.
In the long term, Calderon Martinez says, Russia hopes to desensitize people around the world to the conflict in Ukraine as the world becomes more accustomed to the conflicts in the Middle East.
On Wednesday, President Biden announced that the US will send $2.98 billion worth of arms and equipment to Ukraine, the largest tranche of security aid to date.
“The United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue the fight to defend their sovereignty,” Biden said.
The US and Europe will have to continue supporting Ukraine, says Calderon Martinez, as long as the war lasts. Pulling out and abandoning Ukraine would be incredibly costly for Western countries. It would both damage the West’s reputation and embolden Russian and other authoritarian regimes around the world.
The changing seasons and winter will test the patience of European voters and public support for Ukraine in the war. Energy prices will inevitably rise in winter, further increasing the cost of living across Europe, says Calderon Martinez, which will mean Europeans feel the crisis more severely.
“We have to see how the different national governments across Europe will react to this,” he says.
The forthcoming change in leadership in Britain and the midterm elections in the US could lead to changes in domestic and eventually foreign policy.
Calderon Martinez expects a similar pattern in Russia.
“The economic crisis in Russia will deepen,” he says. “Russia has spent huge amounts of its reserves to prop up the ruble.”
“We seem to be at a stalemate that isn’t helping anyone. It just means that positions are becoming more entrenched and the front line is becoming clearer,” says Calderon Martinez.
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