Vladimir Putin failed to do two things on May 9: celebrate the victory and call for a major mobilization. The world is now puzzling over what the Russian despot plans to do next. War researcher Lawrence Freedman has a clear theory of how the war in Ukraine might continue and end.
British war researcher Lawrence Freedman, professor emeritus at King’s College London, has presented a new theory of how the war in Ukraine could continue – and end -. Freedman analyzed Vladimir Putin’s May 9 speech, the current situation in eastern Ukraine and the state of the Russian army.
First, Freedman describes his observations of May 9, the great “Victory Day” in Russia.
Freedman concludes from Victory Day: “The Russian army is not the steamroller it has long been seen to be,” writes Freedman. This was shown during the march on Kyiv. And it is now also being shown in the second offensive in eastern Ukraine. “There are minimal gains for Russia, while Ukraine even launches successful counter-offensives. The Russians have gathered almost everything they can muster. There are only a few reserves left.” And this force does not seem to be enough.
In addition, Putin’s army is still losing massive amounts of war equipment while Ukraine is being armed by the West. It is therefore not surprising that there are reports that Russian commanders no longer want to send their soldiers to the front.
Freedman describes the current situation as follows: “At the moment everyone believes that the war will go on for a long time. The reasons: Ukraine does not want to give up any territory to Russia. And Russia has invested too much in the war to give up now.” If things continue as they are, a stalemate could develop soon. It is possible that combat operations will be reduced because both sides cannot put in so much effort in the long term.
But it is also possible that Russia will suffer a defeat. Putin’s army could still cause great damage to Ukraine – for example through air strikes and a naval blockade in the Black Sea. But Ukraine has proven that it is capable of suffering and retains its sovereignty.
Therefore, the following scenario is particularly likely for Freedman: “It is possible that the second offensive in eastern Ukraine will end in exactly the same way as the first offensive.” First of all, it will probably become apparent that Russia cannot win. Then it will be discussed whether to return to the negotiating table. And then the Russian forces will no longer be able to hold out and will retreat. “But this time, withdrawing would mean losing,” Freedman said.
Russia shouldn’t like that. If large-scale mobilization is not an option either, then Putin has only one solution to avoid defeat: a ceasefire as soon as possible. He could save what he was able to conquer so far. Freedman writes: “Putin may decide that he would rather minimize his casualties than make this war worse for everyone involved.”
More on the war in Ukraine:
The federal government is apparently intended to delay the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine by leaving the government in Kyiv in the dark about the processes. This is reported by “Welt” with reference to government circles.
The Russian army has been fighting with rotten morale in its own ranks since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. The latest reports suggest that this is also continuing in eastern Ukraine. Soldiers are said to have destroyed their own vehicles so as not to have to fight.