The war in Ukraine completes exactly two years this Saturday, February 24th, a date that is already considered one of the most significant watersheds in international politics in the 21st century. The conflict initiated by Russia began with the expectation of being a lightning war, given the military disparity between Moscow and Kiev, but, after two years, the war drags on in a permanent stalemate, with no prospect of resolution or any glimpse of negotiations between the parties involved.

If the year 2023 was marked largely by the expectation created around the Ukrainian counteroffensive, garnering great economic and military support from the West, today there is already a consensus that the movement has failed. Ukraine was unable to regain control of significant territories in its reaction and the outbreak of Israel’s war in Gaza on October 7th put the conflict in Eastern Europe on the back burner.

According to the analyst at the Russian Council on International Relations, Nikita Smagin, the worsening of the situation in Palestine is certainly favorable for Russia, although the country has obviously not positioned itself in favor of this worsening. To the Brazil in factthe analyst stated that “the situation around Palestine convinces the Russian government, the Russian elites, that their foreign policy vector in general is correct.”

According to him, the Russian strategy “bets that crises will continue to occur in the world, and that the situation in Ukraine will not be the only discomfort for the West.” “With the West shifting its attention to other problems, it will not be able to focus solely on Ukraine,” he argues.

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In recent months, the status of the Ukrainian conflict has been classified by analysts as a “war of exhaustion”, in which there are no major changes on the front line, with the parties seeking to exhaust their opponent’s resources to put themselves in a favorable bargaining position. . The supposed “stability” of the front, however, does not mean an alleviation of the ongoing tragedy.

Russian bombings continue to hit civilian areas in Ukraine and kill innocent people. Possible Ukrainian drone attacks also begin to hit Russian regions close to the border, leaving civilian deaths. On the front line, the deaths of soldiers on both sides only increase.

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In this conflict scenario, Russia is at an advantage, as it has greater economic, military and human resources to replace troops – regardless of the number of casualties. After all, the war is taking place on Ukrainian territory, which means that the country’s economic infrastructure is much more affected.

This is what the head of the Center for Political Analysis and Forecasting of Belarus, Pavel Usov, says. In an interview with Brazil in facthe states that the prolongation of the war benefits Russia due to the “exhaustion of Ukraine, the exhaustion of the West and its expectations, the reinforcement of frustration, the tiredness of everything that is observed”.

What sustains – and has always sustained since the beginning of the war – the Ukrainian resistance is the broad military and economic support from the West, especially the USA. But even this robust support is beginning to show signs of a lack of cohesion. Pavel Usov observes that today it is possible to identify a “dismantling of the front of solidarity with Ukraine” on the part of the West.

According to Pavel Usov, Russia is taking advantage of the weariness that the West feels regarding the lack of prospects for a successful counteroffensive by Ukraine.

“The US elections are approaching and the internal agenda is more important for American society than the external agenda. […] There is already the case of the Slovak sphere of influence, where a populist similar to Orban (Hungarian Prime Minister) came to power, who also initially will not support Ukraine”, says Usov.

The analyst points out that this creates pressure within the EU for the need to hold peace negotiations with Russia. “Europe will increasingly have right-wing populists of this nature who will support Russia,” he analyzes.

Now, even on the Ukrainian side, it is not disputed that Russia is the one with the initiative in military actions.

Disputed territories

On February 17, the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the withdrawal of troops from the Avdeevka region, in eastern Ukraine, to “more advantageous positions”, while the Russian Ministry of Defense declared that it had “liberated” the territory, the scene of intense battles between Russian and Ukrainian forces since the start of the war.

“The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has published new images of military equipment abandoned on roadsides in the suburbs of Avdeevka during the chaotic escape of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At the moment, servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces are carrying out measures aimed at clearing suburban areas of Avdeevka from the militants of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and block their units”, says the Russian ministry’s statement announcing the conquest of the region.

Moscow claims that the city’s “liberation” made it possible to move the front line away from Donetsk and “significantly protect it from enemy attacks.”

It is worth remembering that Donetsk is one of the eastern Ukrainian regions, along with Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye, that were annexed by the Russian Federation in October 2022. However, Moscow does not have full control of these regions incorporated into its territory, i.e. the front line of the war crosses many points of the territories that Russia claims as conquered.

A study published last week by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) points out that, after the capture of Avdeevka, Russian forces are seeking to take advantage of delays in providing Western aid to Kiev, conducting attacks against the positions of the Russian Armed Forces. Ukraine in three directions at once: Zaporozhye, Kharkov and Donetsk.

American military experts indicate, however, that after the withdrawal from Avdeevka, the Ukrainian Armed Forces will probably be able to create a new line of defense near the city, which could lead to new intense battles in the area.

No room for negotiations

Last Thursday (22), Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov was in Rio de Janeiro to participate in the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting and the war in Ukraine was one of the main topics of discussion between the ministers. In an exclusive conference with the Russian press after the meeting with ministers, to which the Brazil in fact had access, Lavrov explained the lack of perspective regarding possible negotiations on the Ukrainian conflict.

The Russian minister claimed that Western countries do not want to hold a serious dialogue on the situation in Ukraine, noting that there have been no contacts with the heads of British and US diplomacy.

According to him, it is impossible to restore trust in relations with the US when “Russia is openly declared a hostile state, an immediate threat that must be destroyed and strategically defeated.” Lavrov added that Moscow had not received any “serious proposals” from Washington to resume dialogue on strategic stability.

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The Russian Foreign Minister also declared that the West’s “arrogance and concern about Russophobia” does not allow talk of negotiations on Ukraine. “[O Ocidente] doesn’t want a serious dialogue”, he added.

At the same time, diplomacy repeatedly reiterates that it is not closed to possible negotiations with Kiev and the West to seek a resolution to the Ukrainian crisis. According to analyst Pavel Usov, the quest to freeze the conflict is not unrelated to the pressure of the Russian military offensive, as the more Russia has an advantage on the battlefield, the more favorable its bargaining conditions will be.

“Without a doubt, Russia will do everything to, on the one hand, exhaust Ukraine’s forces, increase pressure, advance further, but, on the other hand, it will seek to reach a truce agreement, because a truce, a freeze of the conflict in the territorial configuration that is currently in place, this will represent a victory for Russia”, says the analyst.

Editing: Nicolau Soares


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