Future of Ukraine War

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Sher Ali Bukhari

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on 24th February 2022 and was labelled by Russia as a “Special Military Operation”. This shocked the en­tire world, especially the West: The old wounds of West-Russia rival­ry began to resurface again in the heartland of Europe. And the world holds its breath for a longer military confrontation between the West and Russia in the theatre of Ukraine.
Experts are divided into two camps for reasoning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On one hand, convention­al wisdom and liberals opined that Pu­tin has embarked on creating “Great­er Russia” and the Ukraine invasion is the first line of conquest for him. Af­ter occupying Ukraine, President Putin would expand its imperialist tenden­cies towards later parts of Europe, es­pecially Eastern Europe.
On the other hand, well-known Pro­fessor John Mearsheimer opined that Russia was provoked by the West which prompted the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He mainly blamed the Western policy of NATO expansion that height­ened the security concerns of Russia. The inclusion of Ukraine into NATO is the biggest red line for Russia. He also outlined the expansion of the EU and the color revolution in Ukraine that forced the early departure of the pro-Moscow regime in Ukraine in 2014.
Despite the divergence of explanation of Russian actions in Ukraine, the official narrative of the Kremlin is the non-entry of Ukraine into NATO and the rollback of NATO expansion from Eastern Europe and Baltic states. Furthermore, in a long op-ed piece by President Putin “On the historical unity of Russians and Ukraini­ans” (2021), he viewed that Russia and Ukraine are one state and one people. However, despite Russian concerns, the West undertook the opposite approach: not to engage Russia on its terms.
During the first year of year, Western and Ukrainian resolute were firm and hard to oppose Russian measures of ex­pansionism. West, mainly Europe and the USA, provided much political, eco­nomic, diplomatic, and military sup­port to Ukraine. Furthermore, econom­ic sanctions were imposed on Russia to hamstring its military campaign in Ukraine. Owing to these hard realities, Russia could not bring Ukraine down to its knees as the latter was able to defend itself from the formidable superior mili­tary might of Russia.
However, with the passage of months and the entering of the war in the sec­ond year, it is crystal clear that Ukraine has become a “War of attrition”. Russia is able to hold 20pc of Ukrainian territory in eastern parts of Ukraine, where ethnic Russians are in the majority, and formal­ly incorporate these regions into the Rus­sian part. On the economic front, Russia has emerged stronger as its economy is bouncing back to 4.4pc in the fiscal year of 2024, despite colossal economic sanc­tions on the Russian economy. Further­more, the much-hyped Ukraine’s coun­ter-offensive to take back the eastern part of Ukraine from Russia also backfired.
Against that backdrop, President Pu­tin has appeared confident in Ukraine for further projections of his objectives in the Ukraine war. During a press con­ference, he claimed that Russia is des­tined to win Ukraine’s war as its surviv­al is closely attached to it. Furthermore, President Putin received 87pc of the votes for scoring their fifth term as pres­ident, showing the renewed trust and confidence of the Russian people in him, especially due to his resolute in resisting Western measures in Ukraine.
Outside of Ukraine, Europe has been di­vided about the inclusion of Ukraine into NATO. Additionally, owing to the long du­ration of the war, economic commitment by Europe to Ukraine also appears to be weakened as many European countries witness economic recession, inflation, and unemployment at home. Outside of Europe, the support for Ukraine is al­ready dim and the Global South appears to be more sympathetic to Russia’s con­cerns about the West. China and India, emerging economic houses of the world, have already backed Russia in direct and indirect manner in the Ukraine war.
Meanwhile, since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, Pakistan has undertaken a principled position on the conflict. The country has taken a neutral position in the Ukraine war, avoiding any provoca­tion from the West and Russia. For that context, Pakistan has abstained from the resolutions regarding the Ukraine war, a clear message of non-aligned foreign policy. In that way, Pakistan has been able to maintain a robust relationship with both the West and Russia because of its strategic importance to Pakistan.
Apart from that, the prospects for Ukraine are also getting dim and grim due to the changing domestic situa­tion of the USA. Republicans are show­ing low concerns for Ukrainian support and blocking any economic package for Ukraine in the US Congress. Further­more, experts viewed that the chanc­es of Trump winning are brighter which causes alarm bells in Kyiv. President Trump is particularly hostile to Ukraini­an support and made many statements about renouncing economic and mili­tary aid to Ukraine. So, experts viewed that the possible upcoming presidency of Trump would abandon Ukraine.
At home, enthusiasm about confront­ing Russia is getting dim in Ukraine. Ukraine’s people are appearing tired of fighting a war for the West against Rus­sia that caused the loss of thousands of people, infrastructure and economic loss. Many Ukrainians also blamed Pres­ident Zelensky for acting as a puppet in the hands of the West, which brought much damage to its country and people for playing in the hands of the West.
In a nutshell, the future of war in the support of Ukraine is dim. It appears that Ukraine is losing both battlefield and diplomatic offence against mighty Russia. In the absence of European and American support, Ukraine will not be able to stand before Russia and will lose more territory. Furthermore, as the do­mestic situation in Europe and the USA has changed, the future of Ukraine will hang in balance. On the country, Russia has emerged as a victorious and great power after the Ukrainian invasion as its status elevated before Global South. The USA’s strategy of containing Russia in the Ukraine war has also backfired. One vital lesson for Ukraine: don’t put fire in your own house for the sake of the West.
The writer is a UET alumni with keen interest in Pakistan’s foreign policy

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