Saturday, January 07, 2023

Preliminary reflections on 2023: Ukraine

 After a turbulent few years, 2023 looks likely to follow the same pattern. 

When President Putin launched his Special Military Operation in Ukraine in February 2022, there was some debate about the causes of the conflict, a debate that has dragged on. Regardless of that, few expected a war with such significant global implications. Looking back at the small number of posts I wrote from 2014, I downplayed suggestions that we might have a repeat of the Second World War. Now I'm not so sure. I also underestimated the global impact of the conflict.

President Putin expected his invasion to yield quick results. The strength of Ukrainian resistance took him by surprise, providing time for Ukraine's allies to provide financial and material assistance that in turn forced the Russians back. Now Russia is regrouping trying to use its stronger population and resource base to wear down the Ukrainians. President Putin has been reluctant to move to a full total war footing, it's hard to do that when you even deny that there is a war on, but circumstances are likely to force his hand. 

The present war position can best be described as a stalemate reminiscent of  World War 1 with trench and defensive lines running over thousands of kilometres. President Putin hopes that the extended conflict will finally drain the West's willingness and ability to sustain support given domestic political considerations in the various countries involved. The West hopes for a Ukrainian breakthrough that will erode Russia's ability to fight the war. I could wish that, but it seems to me that the most probable military result is a period of stasis with heavy casualties on both sides. Meantime, the effects of the war continue to spread and spread.

1 comment:

Johnb said...

Dear Jim, a pleasant half hour catching up on your Personal Reflections, a period of Life that I am also engaged in. Referencing your love of the printed word I rescued and had rebound a Book of Common Prayer printed in 1788, that year of significance in Australian history. I find it of historical importance as well as religious interest as similar would have been on board both Cooks Bounty and arrived in Australia with that First Fleet.Having rescued it and brought it with me on my return to Australia it needs a permanent home where its value will be honoured. I would welcome any suggestions you might have and would be pleased to travel should you wish sight of the volume.
my regards as ever Johnb.