Figure 1: Map – Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Source: Institute for the Study of War
The Russian authorities have made their intention of an extended war clear, after optimism arose following the trilateral summit with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish and Ukrainian president. The calls to the negotiating table were rejected by Russia, as they see no diplomatic solution. Optimism may arise again in the coming months as Putin is planned to attend the G20 summit in November. While the G20 summit itself is highly unlikely to be the diplomatic venue for talks to end the war, hopes are rising that it could be followed by bilateral meetings between Russia and Ukraine. It is more likely that Putin will use the summit as a venue to demonstrate a strong Russia to the world as well as proving his countrymen that he is able to face Russia’s western “enemies.”
Kherson counteroffensive – symbolic or strategic?
The counteroffensive started on August 29th. Mere days are insufficient for a full-on analysis. Yet conflicting statements from Ukrainian and Russian sources indicate that it carries a symbolic importance, especially to keep Ukrainian forces and the western support motivated. While Ukrainian authorities stated that breaking through Russian forces was easy and Ukrainian troops will push them to the border, logistics of a counteroffensive over the Dnipro river will be challenging for Ukraine. Ukraine has successfully conducted bombardment of strategic Russian locations yet further military progress in the heavily guarded and highly urban area could only be measured. The approaching winter provides an obstacle for Ukrainian forces to conduct a larger offensive.
The counteroffensive is yet another proof that Ukraine is willing to keep fighting, but it is not likely to produce imminent game changing results. It is also yet another factor the keeps piling on the cost of war for Russia. Instead of an advance towards the West, Russia will have to focus on defending its claimed territories in Ukraine. As Russia possesses the military capability to do so we see the war continuing on as we previous highlighted, while in parallel Putin arranges referendums in annexed territories in Ukraine. We still see the Ukraine war dragging on through 2023, as Putin keeps on aiming for a breakdown in the Western Alliance and see if Putin’s friend Trump will make a comeback as US President in 2024. Tactically Putin will likely to sell more gas to Europe once the worst of the winter is over (here).