Tuesday 28 May 2024 - 01:35

Tough Days for Kiev as Moscow Consolidates its Upper Hand in War

Story Code : 1138041
Tough Days for Kiev as Moscow Consolidates its Upper Hand in War
Despite pressing ahead with its advances, Moscow has recently given a green light for end of war. Four Russian sources told Reuters that President Vladimir Putin of Russia is ready to halt the war with a negotiable ceasefire that recognizes the current lines of the battleground. They at the same time said that the Russian leader is ready to continue the war if Kiev and the West do not respond to the peace offer.

At the same time, the spokesman to the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov in response to the request for the Russian president's comment said that Putin has repeatedly stated clearly that Moscow is ready for dialogue to achieve its goals and that "we do not want eternal war." On the other hand, the appointment of economist Andrei Belousov as Russia's defense minister is seen by some Western military and political analysts as a sign that the Russian economy is preparing for a long war with the aim of winning, though two sources based on their takes of the conversations in high ranks of the Kremlin said that Putin believes that the war achievements are already adequate for victory.

Why are the Russians ready to end the war? 

It seems that Moscow has manged to achieve the goals it defined for itself in the beginning of the war. Control of eastern Ukraine was the top goal, and almost all of it is now under the control of the Russian forces. Parts of Luhansk and Donetsk have been under the control of the Russian army since 2014, as have been parts of Zaporizhia and Kherson since 2022. Also over the past two years of the war, there has been little signs of Russian forces retreating. In fact, the Russian forces have been able to solidify their position in the eastern provinces of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian army has not been able to take any mentionable action to push them back. In the current situation that Russia considers its achievements in the war stabilized, it has announced that it is willing to stop the war on the condition of accepting the country's position in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

West's weaponry weakness on the ground 

Another important issue about the difficult condition for Ukraine to continue the war is that over the past two years, despite flow of Western arms worth billions of dollars to Ukraine, these arms have not changed the war result and equation. According to secret documents and senior Ukrainian officials, many of the satellite-guided US arms and ammunition have been jammed by the Russians, something forcing Kiev to put them aside in some cases as they show poor performance against the Russian jamming technology. According to reports, use of Russian jamming technology against the Western-provided arms, including HIMARS launchers that can launch missiles to a range of 50 miles, has cut Ukrainian capabilities and pushed Ukrainian officials to call the Pentagon for immediate provision of updated versions of arms. 

Also according to a secret assessment of Ukraine government observed by the Washington Post, the level of effectiveness of US-made Excalibur artillery shells over the past few months has dropped and they cannot precisely detect the targets. Rob Lee, a senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a Philadelphia-based research group, said that Russia’s use of electronic warfare to combat guided munitions was an important battlefield development in the past year. Many weapons are potent when they’re introduced, but they lose effectiveness over time, Lee said. 

How did the page turn? 

At the beginning of war in 2022, Russia was in a worse situation than Ukraine is in today, but the Russians showed that they were able to find ways to solve their main problems on the battlefield. As the war continued, Russia began to innovate in its military tactics and used innovative recruitment tactics to fill the ranks of its army. At home, Putin steered the economy toward a wartime mode to increase production of much-needed war equipment.

On the opposite side, the West has failed to adopt policies aimed at meeting the war needs and shortages of Ukraine. During 2023, there was no coordinated defense-industrial effort to resupply Ukraine with armored vehicles of various types. Even the production of ammunition for Ukraine, especially in Europe, has been very limited. Of the 2.3 million shells used by Ukraine in 2023, only 300,000 were European. The EU Joint Procurement Initiative on ammunition for Ukraine only partially materialized in late 2023, which was too late, while the Russians had managed to consolidate their position in eastern Ukraine. Therefore, considering the hesitation of the West to increase the production of weapons and the lack of planning for the post-counterattack period, 2024 is the most challenging time for Kiev. 

Ukraine lofty ambitions 

It should also be taken into consideration that ammunition shortage and Western allies' reneging on their promises have motivated Ukraine to go after developing and producing drones, electronic warfare systems, and armored vehicles and tanks domestically through high-flying plans to revive its weapons industry. Although this goal is in the early stages and has met with success so far, the needed weapons will not be ready before next year and will not be available to the army in sufficient quantities before 2026. In addition, Ukraine will depend on the West for aircraft and sophisticated air weapons. The complexity of the defense systems does not allow Ukraine to produce domestically, and even with the revival of the Ukrainian arms industry, the country will still depend on the supply of artillery ammunition from abroad and Western countries.

Negative scenario for Ukraine 

The most negative scenario for Ukraine is Donald Trump running for president in upcoming election, which will allow anti-Ukranian remarks to dominate the American election discourse. In the Congress, the Republicans want to see Biden’s loss by any means. So, Ukraine war conditions can be influenced by the US election campaigns and Washington can abandon its support for Kiev. 

Though the Europeans still send arms to Ukraine, European arms lack the capacity to qualitatively and quantitatively fill possible American void. Therefore, the Ukrainian forces will very likely increasingly face shortage in shells, arms, and missiles they desperately need just to maintain their status quo. If the weapon shortage worsens, Kiev will find it hard to even save the current state.