Three possible scenarios in Ukraine before the arrival of 'general winter'
“What Russia has learned in this war is to withdraw”. With undisguised satisfaction and a certain dose of sarcasm, Román Kostienko, a deputy in the Ukrainian State Duma and a mid-ranking officer in the SBU, the Ukrainian secret services, responded in this way, a few days ago, to questions from Nastoiashieye Vremia (Current Times), a language television channel Russian based in kyiv.
And he was right. With that of Jerson there are now three withdrawalsThe Kremlin Army began the war in February, first around kyiv and Chernihiv, in the north of the country, a month after the invasion began, in the face of heavy fire. losses suffered in men and material and the impossibility of closing a pincer around the capital. Then came the hasty withdrawal, in October, of Russian forces from the northwestern province of Kharkov., taken from the wrong foot. and by surprise thanks to an effective decoy and misinformation operation. And lastly, this recent withdrawal of all positions on the west bank of the Dnieper Ripple. With winter on the horizon, these are three possible scenarios in which the conflict could evolve in the coming months.
Ukraine continues its offensive, although on other war fronts
After having reaped important and unexpected partial victoriesin the nine months of war, the morale in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and authorities, as well as the as in the rear, it is at its peak. Unlike what happened in the early stages of the invasion, when the only aim was to stop the coup, among the politicians, the military and the citizens of the attacked country, it has spread the conviction that the military victoryit's possible. like this Regardless, the kyiv government plans to continue its military offensive, and shows no interest in stopping it. Yes; according to military logic, the pressure should be transferred to war fronts outside of Kherson, due to the complexity that it would entail for the locals to cross a river bed that, on average, is between half a kilometer and two kilometers long. width, exceeding twenty in some sections. “A landing transported from a sea or a river is one of the most complex military operations for an Army; in this case, you have to ford a 500-meter stream of water under artillery and shell fire. enemy aircraft,” explains Mikhailo Samus, an expert on military issues at the head of the New Geopolitics Research Network think tank, over the phone.
The Zaporizhia province , and more specifically, the town of Melitópol, has many of the numbers to become the new preferred war arena of the conflict, continues Samus. “kyiv does not reveal its plans in advance, but it is most reasonable for it to concentrate its efforts on Melitopol” trying to “reach the Sea of Azov” and opening a breach in the land corridor between Crimea and the Russian Federation. It would be a “catastrophic” development of events for Russia, since it would leave the occupied Ukrainian peninsula exposed, defenseless and with enormous supply difficulties. The other access route, the Crimean bridge, inaugurated in 2018, was attacked by Ukraine in a daring partisan operation, on October 8, and “it is running with difficulties,” recalls this expert. “We could set foot in the Crimea at the end of December. Is that possible? It is possible,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Volodimir Havrilov told Sky News.
Without room for negotiation, Russia and Ukraine agree to a temporary ceasefire
Days before the Russian withdrawal from Kherson materialized, the Italian daily < strong>La República spread the news. There was information according to which in the NATO headquarters in Brussels reports were circulatingThey spoke of the need to push Ukraine towards a negotiation, now that the war winds are blowing in its favor and it is in a position of strength. Even the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Mark Miller, got down on it. to pronounce in favor of said possibility in a recent interview with CNN. “If the tactical fighting slows down, there could be a window for a political solution, or at least for the start of political solution talks,” he said.
< p>Nicolás de Pedro, an expert on Russia from the British think tank Institute for Statecraft, sees it as feasible for Ukraine, under pressure from the US, to enter into talks with Russia, although he doubts that it will be able to achieve anything more. that “a temporary ceasefire” given the absence of conditions for a genuine negotiation. Putin “continues at his guns” and refuses to review the objectives he aspired to when he gave the order to attack the neighboring country, De Pedro notes: “He continues to question Ukraine's right to exist” and “continues to reject The European security architecture” of this century, with the countries of the former Warsaw Pact firmly anchored in NATO, “he points out. “A ceasefire would be nothing more than a pause In an unresolved war”, he assesses.
To push kyiv to a negotiationWhatever it does not want, the Kremlin is counting on “pressure” and “intimidate” the US and Europe with the threat of “nuclear war”, something in which, in its opinion, it is committed. being “relatively successful“. Options such as the use of a dirty bomb or an attack with a tactical weapon, “although they cannot be ruled out” in the long term, do not currently constitute “a solution.” It is not logical” for Putin and his entourage, due to “the risks” that this entails for Moscow, this expert points out.
Russia entrenches itself in its new positions and bets on wearing down Ukraine and the West
Only a couple of days elapsed between the effective withdrawal of the Russian troops and the announcement of the decision, during a televised meeting between Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Defense, and General Sergei Surovikin, commander of the Kremlin contingent in Ukraine. An unusually rapid withdrawal, and culminated “in a disciplined manner” by the forces of the Kremlin, in the words of the Ukrainian deputy and lieutenant of the SBU Román Kostienko. All of this pushes Ukrainian strategists to think that the military maneuver “had been prepared for a long time” and that the aforementioned interview in Moscow was a mistake. it did nothing more than publicize a decision that had been implemented on the ground for some time.
Now, with its soldiers repositioned in an area much less exposed to the enemy, Moscow's strategy for the coming months it will continue to be According to a recent article by analysts Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, both senior researchers on land warfare issues at the Royal United Services Institute.: on the one hand, to try to conclude the deployment on the Ukrainian fronts of hundreds of thousands of reservists recruited during the partial mobilization of October, and on the other, to continue punishing the Ukrainian energy infrastructure, vital for the civilian population can get through the harsh Ukrainian winter.
Moscow He is aware that the possibility of retaking the initiative in the war and launching a counteroffensive to recover the lost territories next spring depends enormously on the conditions in which he manages to position the fresh troops coming from Federation territory. Russian, military specialists agree. If the kyiv soldiers manage to inflict draft losses on the newly arrived soldiers, the devalued combat morale of the Russian soldiers will suffer further. A new and perhaps decisive blow.
The bombing of energy infrastructure “will make Ukraine more financially dependent on the West,” Watling and Reynolds note. And they also augur that Russia will try to do so. He exploited this circumstance with information campaigns in the Allied rear to “try to convince audiences” in Europe and the US that “it is better to spend money at home than abroad”.