May 16, 2022

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A holiday in Russia is approaching, but Putin can't celebrate a breakthrough in Ukraine

A holiday in Russia is approaching, but Putin can’t celebrate a breakthrough in Ukraine

Preparations for the annual military parade are in full swing. This week, military vehicles drove through the streets of Moscow, because they had to rehearse. However, the celebration on Red Square will look different this year than last year.

Fewer soldiers will advance in the past and the Russians will see less equipment. Some of them are in operation in eastern Ukraine, so the show will be held in a diminutive form.

There, in the Donbass, the Russian offensive is progressing more slowly than planned. Ukrainian resistance means the Russians can only advance slowly, says former commander-in-chief Dick Berlin. As a result, progress is slower than Russia had hoped.

Russians toil

According to Dick Zandi, a defense expert at the Clingendael Institute, this is because the Russians cannot bring together enough people to force a breakthrough. On the offensive side, it lacks critical leverage.

According to the British Ministry of Defense, units exhausted due to losses should be integrated. Some soldiers also suffer from poor morale. Motivation to fight there would be low. According to the Americans, the Russians “toil”.

Ukraine is able to resist, in part thanks to Western weapons. The Russians made gains, but at a huge price. According to Ukraine, Russian soldiers, usually stationed in the Far East of Russia, must now be brought into eastern Ukraine to keep the number of troops at the same level.

need more soldiers

One possibility for Putin to increase his offensive power is to announce a general mobilization. This means calling recruits to fight. Now professional soldiers and contract soldiers are fighting in eastern Ukraine.

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Hardliners in Russia have been calling in recruits in droves for some time now. Britain’s defense minister said that Putin might announce this mobilization on D-Day, although he immediately said he had no specific information about it.

In order to declare the mobilization there must be war. This means that the term “special military operation”, as the Russians call the invasion of Ukraine, will disappear.

“Putin has a lot to explain to the Russian people,” says the former Berlin leader. Dick Zandi isn’t seeing that happening any time soon either. “You won’t get much support, but it could be the next step.”

good story

The fact is that the occupation of the entire Donbass before May 9 is not possible. “It is unlikely that the fight will end, but Putin can tell a good story,” Zandi said. “He can claim that Mariupol has been liberated, that there is an earthly connection with Crimea, and they continue to fight against the” Nazis “.

impasse

The war is now in its third month, and there is no indication that the weapons will be silent anytime soon. “I am not optimistic that there will be a quick end in favor of Ukraine,” Berlin says. He thinks the war will eventually be a frozen conflict in which both parties are unable and unwilling to conclude peace agreements.

Zandi also sees a stalemate developing, as Russia and Ukraine both bury themselves. It was not yet so: “The agenda of the Russians now is the conquest of Donbass by 100 percent.”

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