The battle in Ukraine’s complicated nature can obscure its most salient elements.
So, let’s slice through the jargon and concentrate on where the fighters are now, how they arrived here, and what’s likely to occur subsequently.
Ukraine Avoids Defeat
The key argument is well-known: Ukraine averted a Russian triumph, but has yet to claim chevalier. Although there will be more difficult combat ahead, the battlefield is gradually tilting in Ukraine’s favor.
Vladimir Putin sought to take control of the capital, dismember the Zelensky government, install a puppet administration, and take control of as many of the countries as possible, merging them into Mother Russia and forming “autonomous” nations in the remainder.
He not only failed militarily, but he also enraged the Ukrainian population, especially those who speak Russian, live close to the border, and once supported Moscow.
Since Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the Donbas area in 2014, this widespread opposition has created a country and marked a momentous shift.
#IEWorld | Concerns grew Wednesday for the welfare of more than 250 Ukrainian fighters who surrendered to Russian forces at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol after weeks of desperate resistance.
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) May 18, 2022
The invasion of Putin and the resistance of Ukraine have three important implications.
First, a smart, persistent military and a Churchillian leader have stoked the fighting spirit of all Ukrainians.
Secondly, it implies Russia can only govern the region it confiscates with a permanent occupation force outside of Crimea. That’s both costly and risky.
Third, it destroys any dreams Putin had of dominating the country through a proxy regime capable of self-defense.
Putin also fell short of his wider diplomatic goal of splintering NATO. Worse, he managed to revitalize the dormant alliance, cement it behind Ukraine, and entice the accession of two more nations, Finland, as well as Sweden, both of which had neutral histories.
Because they maintain an 870-mile border near St. Petersburg, Finland’s participation poses a significant challenge for Russia.
Moreover, as the conflict has progressed, NATO’s military objectives have grown. Most NATO countries initially expected a quick Russian triumph and then simply hoped Russia just wouldn’t take the region after that failed.
They thought pursuing Russia’s total defeat would prompt a trapped Putin to use weapons of destruction and devastation. That terror hasn’t gone away — or at least, it shouldn’t have.
Nobody knows if a desperate Putin may resort to chemical warfare or even small-scale nuclear weapons on the battlefield.
NATO Makes Its Stand
Despite the danger, NATO has gradually adjusted its views in favor of a Ukrainian triumph, given to Ukraine’s combat progress, Russia’s heinous (and widely publicized) war criminals, and the Kremlin’s avowed intention of capturing territory outside Ukraine.
Within the partnership, there are differing viewpoints.
My friend Denys, a Ukrainian soldier, was wounded by a Russian artillery strike near Kharkiv on March 9. He recovered and is now back out on the front lines. An entrepreneur and veteran of the Donbas war, Denys returned to active duty after the Feb. 24 full-scale invasion. pic.twitter.com/ht4HMpfoBd
— Nolan Peterson (@nolanwpeterson) May 10, 2022
The United Kingdom and NATO’s eastern European countries are the most vociferous in their support for these expansive goals, while France and Germany are the wariest.
However, the schism has not prevented NATO from providing Kyiv with substantial military and diplomatic backing.
This assistance extends far beyond NATO. Some 40 nations are now cooperating with Kyiv, some of which previously preferred to remain neutral, including Israel.
Russia is backed by almost no countries.
Even Belarus, a close friend, and neighbor, voiced concerns about the conflict and declined to send troops to fight in Ukraine.
China, Russia’s most important geopolitical ally, is said to be anxious about the disastrous war and its reputational consequences. It declined to offer Moscow crucial economic and military assistance.