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A Protracted War in Ukraine Will Cause Geopolitical Chaos

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

According to US intelligence assessments found in a growing leak of classified documents revealing Washington's concerns about the state of the war, Ukraine's military may fall "well short" of Kyiv's original goals for an anticipated counteroffensive aimed at retaking Russian-occupied areas this spring due to difficulties in massing troops, ammunition, and equipment.

The grim assessment from early February, which is classified as "top secret," foresees serious "force creation and sustainment shortages" and the possibility that such an operation will only produce "small territorial gains." That represents a significant shift from the Biden administration's public declarations about the strength of the Ukrainian military and is certain to inflame critics who believe NATO and the US should be exerting more pressure to advocate for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

According to the document that predicts only modest success in Ukraine's impending counteroffensive, Kyiv's strategy revolves around reclaiming disputed areas in the east while pushing south in an effort to cut off Russia's land bridge to Crimea, the peninsula Moscow illegally annexed in 2014 and now uses as a supply route for its forces inside Ukraine. The memo claims that the effectiveness of well-established Russian fortifications combined with "persistent Ukrainian shortcomings in training and munitions supplies" will likely impede progress and increase losses during the offensive.

Experience has taught us that Moscow and Kyiv are not going to save the Ukrainian people from the bloodshed by escalating the conflict. From the perspective of the main victims, the world would see things very differently. Millions of Ukrainian refugees have only been given a limited amount of safety in certain Western nations. Even worse, the West cannot do much to save those left behind in the war-ravaged zones since doing so would require a military action that is regarded to be far too hazardous.

Russia bombing Ukraine is the absolute worst course of action. It's just bloody symbolism in politics. On a military level, the scorched earth campaign won't have any impact. As usual, any fresh military escalation will lack both a specific objective and a well-defined plan. Moscow has always been very ambiguous in this regard; it promises to defeat Kyiv but also says it won't send out more ground soldiers. The risk of thinking you can fight Ukraine with such restricted methods is that you'll keep bombing the country long after you've seen that it's pointless.

A prolonged conflict undoubtedly has no winners, will cause geopolitical chaos, and the international community would not be sympathetic to them. All of this needs not to be done at the expense of diplomacy, a time-honored art that is vital to bring about peace. Long-term bombing campaigns have a terrible effect on the environment and people's health. Depleted uranium in explosives caused a six-fold rise in leukaemia in Iraq in the 1990s. We shall soon learn what the scorched earth bombings did to Ukraine.

What the Global West and Russia can do in its place remains the open question. It's not too difficult to envision: They can stop playing regional games, improve refugee assistance, create safe passages without bombing but rather by enlisting the help of the various parties involved, and give more weight to finding a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine.


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