Former US Army chief exposes ‘three things’ Putin needs to do in Ukraine war
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko has thanked Britons for the sacrifices they had made in supporting her nation in the ongoing war against Russia, which began when Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s invasion on February 24, 2022. She declared that Ukraine “will win this year”, as she spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this week. It is unclear what direction the war may go in, with Ukraine for now on the front foot. Various predictions have been made about where the country is headed, with Express.co.uk detailing five of those forecasts for 2023.
At the start of the conflict, many feared the overwhelming military might of the world’s ninth most populous country could decimate Ukraine.
Led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine came back swinging and has made major gains since the opening invasion just under a year ago. His spirit in fighting Russia, garnering support from fellow leaders, and maintaining the morale of his troops have kept him popular among many Ukrainians.
According to Andrei Piontkovsky, a Russian scientist and analyst based in the US capital of Washington, a victory for Ukraine could be on the cards.
Speaking to the BBC, he said that “Ukraine will win by restoring completely its territorial integrity by spring” of this year, citing two reasons behind his belief.
He noted the “motivation, determination and courage” offered Ukrainians a valid reason for suspecting a win, adding: “The other is the fact that, after years of appeasement of a Russian dictator, the West has finally grown up to realise the magnitude of historical challenge it faces.”
Mr Piontkovsky said he expected that the “victorious powers” of Ukraine, the UK and the US will then “shape a new international security architecture” to protect fellow countries.
What next for war in Ukraine? Five expert predictions that may be coming in 2023
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko spoke to the BBC
No conclusion reached in 2023
While Mr Piontkovsky was optimistic in his praise of Ukraine’s potential successes, King’s College London’s Dr Barbara Zanchetta, who works in the Department of War Studies, was less sure.
She suggested that the most likely outcome would be a continuation of the conflict and tensions between Russia and Ukraine with “no end in sight”.
Dr Zanchetta noted that Vladimir Putin, the despotic ruler of Russia, had expected Ukraine to be “passive” in the early days of the invasion, and had not anticipated other countries to get involved, describing it as a “grave miscalculation that has led to a protracted conflict”.
“The winter will be difficult” for Mr Zelenskyy, Dr Zanchette explained, because Russia’s continued attack would attempt to “break the morale and endurance of an already shattered population”. However, she said that so far, Ukraine’s resilience had “proved to be remarkable”, and added: “They will stand firm. The war will drag on. And on.”
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A Russia win
The most important factor in Russia claiming victory in the war will be determined by its spring offensive. That’s the verdict of Professor Michael Clarke, associate director of the Strategic Studies Institute in Exeter.
He likened Putin’s struggles over the winter period to that of previous dictators such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin, who all famously found their patience and that of their armies sapped.
Putin has bolstered the frontline of his Ukrainian pursuit to the sum of 50,000 mobilised troops, with a further 250,000 ready to be trained in the coming year. Prof Clarke said: “There is no scope for anything but more war until the fortunes of those new Russian forces are settled on the battlefield.
“A short and unstable ceasefire is the only other prospect. Putin has made it clear he will not stop. And Ukraine has made it clear it is still fighting for its life.”
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Vladimir Putin’s next steps are being considered
More Russian misery
Though it could be premature for Ukraine and the West to dust off the victory banners and declare the war over at some stage in the coming months, Ben Hodges, a former commanding general from the United States Army Europe, said there “was no doubt” in his mind that at some stage in 2023, Russia will face yet more fallout.
As a result of the harsh winter conditions, he expects Russia to slow down due to Ukraine’s “winter equipment coming from the UK, Canada and Germany”. By some stage in January, Mr Hodges claimed, Ukraine may be “in a position to begin the final phase of the campaign”, which he described as the “liberation of Crimea”.
Surprisingly, he also expects that peace talks between the two countries could take place. This conclusion came because of “the Russian pull-out from Kherson”, which occurred in November last year.
He added that this would likely come firstly as “a psychological boost for the Ukrainian people, secondly as a profound embarrassment for the Kremlin and thirdly by handing Ukraine’s forces a key operational advantage — all approaches into Crimea are now within range of Ukrainian weapon systems”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Russia launches another offensive
For David Gendelman, a military insider currently in Israel, the prospects for 2023 lie more in what will be accomplished as opposed to who will actually come out victorious.
He says that around 150,000 of Russia’s 300,000 troops are currently in the fighting zone after being freed up by Russia’s humiliating move away from Kherson. But this gives Putin a chance to “launch an offensive”.
The biggest question for Mr Gendelman, however, is “how many Ukrainian forces are free and available” to fight? He added: “After the mud freezes, we will get the answer to this question.
This answer brings us a little closer to ‘how it’s going to end’.”