Washington: In February 2024, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine will enter its third year. The toll, thus far, has been staggering. The total number of troops killed and wounded on both sides is likely well over half a million.
Over 11 million Ukrainians have either become refugees or been internally displaced. Over a million Russian citizens fled to avoid conscription. Billions of dollars’ worth of equipment have been destroyed.
The war continues to reverberate globally with slowed economic growth, rising inflation, volatile energy prices, and food shortages —especially in Africa and the Middle East.
As Russia increasingly turns into a military dictatorship, conflict with the West has become raison d’etre for the Kremlin, which casts the war as an existential battle for Russia. It is a system that can only justify its existence by conflict and thus cannot afford peace.
Putin remains committed to a strategy of waiting for the West to lose its resolve and abandon Ukraine while simultaneously erasing Ukrainian identity and history.
Western unity and commitment are increasingly in question, with the future of US military aid to the country hanging in the balance. The coming year may be decisive for both sides in the fighting and the global order.
A consensus has formed in Western discourse over the last several months that the war in Ukraine has reached a stalemate.
The idea took hold around early November, when The Economist quoted Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, General Valery Zaluzhny, as saying, “Just as the First World War, we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate”, and it would take a massive technological leap to break the deadlock.
Ukraine experts have noted that Zaluzhny’s use of the term “stalemate” was both unfortunate and misunderstood, as the key was his reference to “current technology.”
Zaluzhny’s comments in the original Ukrainian better conveyed his message: he warned about finding Ukraine in a “hlukhyy kut” (literally “deaf corner,” or a dead end) if Ukraine does not get the military aid it needs.