Euromaidan Press daily review

May 11

Assessement by Hans Petter Midttun

“The Donbas seizure, combined with the Russian invasion’s early success in seizing parts of southern Ukraine adjoining the Crimean Peninsula gives the Kremlin enormous leverage in any future negotiation to halt the conflict”, The New York Times very rightfully assesses. The analysis also refers to the US national intelligence warning of a “prolonged conflict” in Ukraine as Russia seeks expansive territorial gains beyond the Donbas region.

The two reflect Russia’s “Donbas strategy 2014-22”. It occupied parts of Donbas, established so-called “People’s Republics”, and started negotiations to create the resemblance of hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict to ensure that the West remained disengaged. It also allowed Russia to uphold its attempt to undermine Ukraine from within through the parallel and synchronized use of both military and non-military means for 8 years.

They succeeded big time, as neither the USA nor Europe provided defense aid of substance which would help Ukraine build deterrence. More importantly, while the West was hoping for a peaceful resolution, Russia used the 8 years to prepare for the 24 February 2022 invasion.

The military build-up the US Intelligence started reporting at the end of November last year, started in 2014, and continued until the last phase of the war started. A major bulk of the forces fighting in Ukraine are after all from the neighboring Russian military districts and the bases that over the last 8 years have been relocated closer to the Ukrainian borders.

Additionally, the UN passed resolutions on the “Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov” in both 201820192020, and 2021. The build-up was known to the international community for years already. The escalation reported by the intelligence community this winter was only the reinforcements from the Northfleet, Central, and Eastern Military Districts.

After 8 years of hybrid war, including a low-intensity war in Donbas, the expectation of a prolonged war of attrition should not come as a surprise to anyone. It is, after all, only a continuation of a strategy that has existed for 8 years already. The strategy builds on the Hybrid War concept that involves the parallel and synchronized use of both military and non-military means to destabilize and destroy the nation from within.

Until 24 February, Russia was controlling approximately 19.6% (145 000 km2) of Ukrainian territory and maritime areas under its jurisdiction. This included the Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, the adjacent Maritime Exclusive Economic Zones, and certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. If Russia manages to establish control over all of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblast – and recognizing that they already control all of Ukraine’s Maritime Exclusive Economic Zones – it will control nearly 248 000 km2 (33,5%) of Ukrainian territory and areas under its jurisdiction.

This will provide Russia with a great “launchpad” for its next attempt to establish control over all of Ukraine. More importantly, it will have succeeded in cutting Ukraine’s access to the sea and has, thereby, denied Ukraine the economic foundation to function as an independent state. It not only stops all imports and export, but also controls its energy resources in Donbas, the Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea.

This is meant to give substance to my arguments on “What constitutes a victory?” and what is needed to help Ukraine achieve it? I have previously attempted to describe what a victory probably needs to look like to secure a sovereign and independent Ukraine.

In the article Collective Defense or Collective Denial? I argue that the West does not have a sustainable strategy to help secure a Ukrainian win and a Russian defeat. The military asymmetry between the two is too big to bridge for Ukraine to achieve this on its own. The global ripple effects and the human suffering are too massive for the international community to wait for the two parties to “fight it out”.

NATO must become an active party to the war and help defend Ukraine from the Russian threat from both land, sea, air, and cyber. The Alliance – or a Coalition of the Willing – must deploy maritime forces to the Black Sea and start enforcing a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine. Ukraine has proven itself more than capable of fighting the war on the ground but needs the West to fill its critical vulnerabilities and provide the joint enablers.“

The international community cannot allow Russia to remain on any part of the Ukrainian territory if we want to both ensure a Ukrainian victory and deny Russia the opportunity to continue its war against Ukraine and the West at a later stage.

The full report can be seen here:

Russo-Ukrainian war, day 77: Ukrainian troops advanced to within 10 km of the Russian border near Kharkiv

One comment

  1. For those who think that Ukraine has the upper hand, think again. The horrifying truth is that putler is not losing. Losses of personnel are of no concern to dictatorships. If the allies want Ukraine to come out of this horror show intact, they had better step up their level of support quickly and enormously.

    Liked by 1 person

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