The special operation must be stopped! It is the "price to pay" that causes discussion...

(To Giuseppe Morabito)

The Russian-Ukrainian war is at a turning point, and the determining factor will be whether or not Western powers are willing to support Ukraine in its goal of regaining Russian-occupied territory starting in 2014.

Unfortunately, on May 3, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu, quoted by the Interfax agency, declared, speaking of the Moscow-called Special Operation, that “Russian forces penetrate Ukrainian strongholds along the entire line of contact” and that “Ukrainian forces are trying to maintain the defense lines but are retreating under pressure from Russian troops.”

In this context, which if confirmed appears truly adverse, it is necessary for experts to immediately consider the aspects relating to the current situation in the field. In particular: theobjective of the now declared successful Russian campaign for 2024; the possible strategic, political and operational impact of additional security aid packages to Ukraine and, finally, what will be decided at the NATO 75 summit in Washington in July (after the European elections).

It is now clear that the aim of the Russian strategy is to exhaust the Ukrainians politically and militarily by exploiting what Moscow believes is its greater strategic capacity and preponderance of armed personnel. For the foregoing, the West should. timely and seamlessly reaffirm its support for Ukraine to demonstrate to Moscow clarity in strategies, political determination, thinking ability. The problem is that none of the previous capabilities seem immediately evident and effectively implemented.

At a strategic level, any political progress in Ukraine will likely only come from geopolitical diplomatic talks on European security between Russia and the West, more precisely between Russia and the United States. There is uncertainty about the level and consistency of American and European support for Ukraine and, despite the increased financial and material support for Kiev, the latest US package could well be the last, particularly if former President Trump returns to White House. The impact on Ukraine of the loss of American support would be critical (if not fatal) given the level of war fatigue in Ukraine and the increasingly precarious political position of President Zelensky who, in the opinion of many, makes non-negligible errors in managing the defense personnel and domestic politics.

At a strategic-military level, Ukraine is in a difficult position on the ground (if Shoigu is to be believed), but there is a belief among some Western analysts that in 3 to 6 months things could change. Although Russian forces have suffered enormous losses, Moscow has adapted its strategy to limit losses by leveraging its air power, particularly by operating from within its territory using strikes aimed at destroying both the will and ability to fight. of Ukraine. Countering the Russian strategy would be evidence that the United States is supplying long-range ballistic missiles to Ukraine thus allowing Kiev to target oil refineries and storage centers and other Russian infrastructure within Russia itself, infrastructure vital to the war effort.

At an operational level Ukraine urgently needs more offensive power and has in fact moved to a defensive posture awaiting the arrival of further Western aid. For example, Russia currently enjoys a 15:1 superiority in artillery shells and has adapted drones (many reportedly Iranian sourced) to effectively attack Western-supplied armor. Moscow is also making useful use of electronic warfare that only Western forces could counter. Kiev must also reconsider its operational capacity after the summer 2023 too vaunted counter-offensive it failed not simply because it lacked the military weight needed to break through Russian defensive lines, but because Kiev's forces did not employ modern Western-supplied equipment to its full advantage and were probably insufficiently trained.

If the strategy is to continue to create an opposition supported by Western commitment in the Russian-Ukrainian dispute, the West will have to demonstrate to Moscow that this is Ukraine's strong point. This will only be possible if the Ukrainians can count on a secure supply of military and economic resources, if the Western industrial and technological defense base is adequately mobilized, if there is unity of purpose and effort throughout the Euro-Atlantic community.

Moscow's "special operation" in Ukraine had an enormous cost for Russia, especially due to the loss of influence in the Baltic Sea and Northern Europe. However, for Russia the war in Ukraine is existential for the current government and the West must understand this. The West must urgently answer several questions and if possible by (better before) the NATO summit in Washington. One must quickly decide what “price” he is still willing to pay for Kiev and what would happen to NATO if Putin could declare victory in Ukraine.

A choice must be made between making peace with Russia now at Ukraine's expense, in the hope that it will "close a chapter and make Europe safer", or making peace with Russia only when Ukraine has been defended successfully and in doing so send a clear message to the world (People's China first and Iran and the terrorist groups sponsored by it to follow) about the collective determination of the West to resist every form of aggression.

Talking about peace with a "strongly supportive" Ukraine appears to be a useful starting point, but perhaps something needs to change in Kiev first too.

Photo: X