Seven months into the Russia-Ukraine war, Moscow is yet to accomplish its set military objectives in Ukraine. The ongoing war in Ukraine which commenced on February 24, 2022, with Russia’s mobilization of troops into Ukraine’s territory following the announcement of a special military operation by President Vladimir Putin, is yet to meet any decisive conclusion. As per a report by BBC, Russia still holds about a fifth of the country.
Unlike what was predicted by some defence experts, Russia’s ‘Superior Military’ has not been able to meet the expectations as far as military dominance is concerned. Moreover, the rising human cost of the war is another factor worth being looked at. Although the exact figure of casualties cannot be ascertained, according to a report by the United Nations, the conflict is responsible for more than 14,000 civilian casualties with more than 5000 confirmed to have been killed. Experts agree that the actual numbers could be a lot higher.
Roots of the conflict
In the month of February 2014, Russia mobilized its military, surrounded and subsequently invaded the Crimean Peninsula. Ukrainian forces were ill-prepared and ill-equipped and significantly failed to prevent the annexation of the peninsula. The failure was attributed to the absence of any nuclear weapons in Ukraine’s arsenal which made any possibility of deterrence of war and security against any future aggression from its adversaries very unlikely.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine agreed to destroy its arsenal of nuclear weapons, and join the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT). On December 5, 1994, the leaders of Ukraine, the United States, Britain and Russia signed a memorandum to provide Ukraine with security assurances in connection with its accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. The memorandum contained a preamble and six paragraphs. However, the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, indicates that the promises and assurances given to Ukraine by the signatories of the memorandum did not perform as expected.
Russia-Ukraine war: Initial Russian Advance
Eight years following the fall of Crimea, Russia yet again mobilized its military to subsequently gain dominance in Ukraine in the veil of conducting joint military exercises with Belarus while also deploying troops at the Crimean border with Ukraine, effectively surrounding Ukraine from three regions following which the Russian president Vladimir Putin announced “special military operations” in Ukraine on February 24 during a televised address to the nation.
Deploying a series of tactics in the forms of Air, Naval, Ground and Cyberwarfare, Russia had made significant progress in the initial phase of the war. Addressing the Luxembourg Parliament via a video link in June, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had informed that Russia was occupying almost 20% of the country’s territory.
Ukraine’s counter-offensive changes the battlefield
In late August, Ukraine launched a full-scale counter-offensive against the Russian forces. The southern region of Kherson was the first focus of the counter-attack. In response, Moscow redirected attention and troops to the region. This gave Ukraine an opportunity to launch another offensive in the country’s northeast, near Kharkiv, which proved to be highly effective.
As per the latest intelligence update from the British Defense Ministry, Ukrainian forces are actively engaged in an offensive in the northeast region of the country. The Ukrainian military has additionally recaptured most of the Kharkiv region, including the city of Izium, which had served as an important Russian re-supply hub.
On September 18, Ukraine’s army chief claimed that the Ukrainian military had recaptured over 3,000 square kilometres (about 1,860 square miles) of territory since the counter-offensive began. Meanwhile, the Russian military has established a defensive line between the Oskil River and the town of Svatove against Zelenskyy’s counter-offensive.
Furthermore, Britain’s Chief of Defense Staff, in an interview with BBC claimed that Russia was failing on all its military objectives. Admiral Sir Tony Radakin further predicted that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is likely to “grind on for a long time”.
Following the Samarkand summit of the SCO, Putin insisted during a news conference that Russia’s military operations in Ukraine will not cease. He also reiterated that currently one of the main goals was to “liberate the entire territory of Donbas.”
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