Next phase in Russia-Ukraine War



Photo of Leopard 2 tank as Ukraine-Russian war continues. Ukraine has asked Germany for more access for better defense.

A few weeks ago, the Russia-Ukraine war passed its 1 year anniversary mark on February 24th. If this is indeed World War 3, it mirrors World War 1 as there has been very little territory gained in the last year. The Ukrainian defense surprised everyone, The Russians overestimated their ability to run over Ukrainian defense, and underestimated the allies resolve through a tough winter. Many countries have agreed to sanctions, denied purchasing Russian resources during harsh winter and provided weapons, funds, and training to the Ukrainians. All of this has led to what appears to be a stalemate in Eastern Ukraine.

However, there have been a few new developments suggesting that the war is about to enter a new stage. First, Russia has conscripted 500,000 new soldiers out of prisons via a mercenary group called Wagner. They lack training, poor weapons and ammunition, and are experiencing upwards of 80% mortality rate in battles. Next, the US and Europe are on the verge of sending tanks for the first time, which will greatly enhance Ukraine’s offensive capability. Also, China appears to be in support of sending weapons and ammunition to the Russians. Finally, the US is considering training Ukrainian fighter pilots to use US F-16 fighter jets.

Now that winter is over, and we are about to enter spring, many military analysts expect both sides to make a push.
On February 21, 2023, three days before the 1 year anniversary, Both Biden and Putin delivered globally televised speeches about the war. President Joe Biden promised, “our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided and we will not tire. 1 year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kiev. Well I’ve just come from a visit to Kiev, and I can report Kiev stands strong. Kiev stands proud. It stands tall and, most importantly, stands free.”

On the other hand, Putin delivered his false narrative, “I want to repeat, it was them who started the war. And we used – and are using – force to stop it.” He goes on to say, “The west is using Ukraine both as a battering ram against Russia and as a training ground. It means they plan to turn a local conflict into a global confrontation.” Putin is trying to point the blame for this war on the US even though he was the one who invaded in the first place.

Since the beginning of the war, millions of Russians and Ukrainians have fled their respective countries. As of March 6, 2023, 8,108,448 refugees from Ukraine across Europe. Fortunately, numerous European countries have taken in Ukrainian refugees.
On the other side of the battleline, it has been estimated that as many as 700,000 Russians have fled conscription since it was announced. Many went to Kazakhstan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Serbia, Georgia, and Finland. Unfortunately this will be devastating to Russia because many are young, educated people fleeing.

Another long term impact of the Ukraine-Russia war is that several traditionally neutral countries have requested for admission into NATO. Shortly after the start of the war, Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO and the ratification process to join NATO is in progress. More recently, 2 additional states have formally informed NATO of their desire to become members: Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Georgia. In a way, Russia’s fear of its loss of power at the end of the Cold War has made their worst fears come true.

Another factor hanging over the Ukraine-Russia war is the risk of nuclear weapons being used. At several points in the last year, Putin has threatened the use of nuclear weapons. There is always a risk that if he feels he is being backed up to a wall he will resort to his nuclear arsenal. Also concerning in the long run, is a long standing nuclear non-proliferation treaty called Start II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) which is a thirty year old treaty. Putin is turning his back on the treaty based on the war outcome. The treaty will expire by 2026.

Wars like the Ukraine-Russian war going on now have happened in the past before. Leaders think they are so powerful and unstoppable that no one will get in their way. It has also happened before where leaders humiliate themselves in front of the entire world by losing their own war. This seems to be what is happening right now with Putin’s provoking of the Ukraine-Russian war. It seems to be that whenever one autocratic ruler is in charge of a country, paranoia, or pressure to achieve something always turns out to be their ultimate downfall. As this occurs more and more, it has become clear that balance and the need to hear the voices of many different people working in politics, while frustrating, is far better than one person making all the choices and establishing fear that prevents any intervention.