“The West fears a resounding victory for Ukraine”

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Next February 24, in nothing, marks one year from the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And for now there is no end in sight. Neither in the short nor in the medium term. The war, however, has already seen it all: Russia's advance, Ukraine's counteroffensive, victims and more victims, today paralysis and trenches.

And so the doubt: after months in which the Russian position and that of Vladimir Putin seemed somewhat weak, after Christmas, after the thrust of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, does it end up entrenched? Are the internal problems that he could suffer in Russia far away?

Three of the European voices that know the most about the moment that Moscow is experiencing answered.

"Putin dreams of a kind of Ukrainian Stalingrad"

robert rossi

The war appears extremely contradictory, suspended between waiting for the Russian army to unleash the winter campaign and the stalemate. In general, it is in a dead end. For Putin's former adviser Sergei Markov, the results are catastrophic: It became a long-term conflict destined not to end in 2023 and which could take the form of a positional war not unlike World War I. Putin's appeal to the inevitability of victory is a kind of patriotic paradigm because in the event of seeing defeat, not only could the illusions of what Gleb Pavlovski has called the ironic empire collapse, but it could cause the collapse of the state- Russian civilization and the inexorable decline of Russia's status in the world.

Putin dreams of a kind of Ukrainian Stalingrad and that is why on January 11 General Valeri Gerasimov, chief of the Army General Staff and theoretician of hybrid warfare in the 21st century, was appointed commander of the joint group operating in Ukraine instead of of Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed General Armageddon.

Beyond that, the West seems to fear a resounding victory for Ukraine. The fears are understandable. The liberation of Crimea, the collapse of the front or the destruction of military installations on Russian soil can and almost certainly will provoke a deep internal political crisis in Russia. The West seems to favor the scenario of a multi-year war without any decisive success: Putin will not reach Kyiv, and Zelensky will not recapture Crimea. A prolonged war would weaken the Russian leader, but it would not force him to capitulate and relinquish power.

In addition, a territorially limited war has turned into a global economic confrontation and a global hybrid war. Ukraine was a state in decline that gained strength with the war because for both Russia and the US it has acquired an existential, ideological and cultural dimension, as a clash between the liberal West and conservative and authoritarian Russia. And global wars belong to the typology of viscous wars: they are fluid, chaotic, indefinite and polymorphic (being tribal and ethnic wars, they can assume a religious or economic connotation). According to anthropologist and historian Emmanuel Todd, who predicted the collapse of the USSR in 1976, World War III has started in the Ukraine.

Roberto Rossi is a political scientist, researcher in Eastern Europe and Russia. Rome

"If Putin wins, there will be more destruction and crises in the border countries"

Julian Casanova

As things are unfolding, the long war, almost a year now, is being very destructive for Ukraine, the place where the fighting takes place and where most of the news comes from, but Russia is not showing superiority in weapons , which is essential because it is the NATO countries that are providing better weapons to Ukraine. The solution, in the medium term, seems to be a search for a ceasefire by Putin. If he doesn't and loses the war, his regime will crumble. And if he wins, peace will not come but more destruction and crisis in the border countries.

Julián Casanova is a historian, Distinguished Professor at the Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia. Ann Arbor (Michigan, USA)

Putin, together with the chief of the Russian General Staff Gerasimov, at a ministerial meeting in Moscow on December 21.

Mikhail Kireyev / AFP

“The alternative to Putin can only come from the omnipresent secret services”


I don't think Putin is stronger now than he was a few months ago, but there are some arguments in favor of this thesis: Putin has managed to manage two difficult challenges, the mobilization and the withdrawal from Kherson. Both could have caused a drop in support for the regime and the war, and have generated unrest that could translate into public protests. This context could have been used to remove Putin from power by a disgruntled faction of the Russian elite.

How have you avoided it?

It has allowed the most discontented to flee the country. He has changed command of the operation, stopped the Ukrainian counter-offensive and achieved an organized withdrawal of troops from Kherson to consolidate defense positions. His effective propaganda has covered all the flaws. And in the more than twenty years that he has been in charge, the Russian elite, from oligarchs to top officials, have been purged several times; Putin has militarized it and it is subject to permanent surveillance, which makes it very difficult for opposition nuclei capable of seeking an alternative to Putin to be formed. It can only come from possible fissures in the omnipotent secret services.

But Russia is no stronger than before, and its chances of turning the tide of the war are dubious right now. And what Russia failed to achieve last year with a much better prepared army, it is unlikely to achieve now.

I think that Russia's attack will be concentrated in the Donbass and in Zaporizhia. Russia will try to move upriver and consolidate its positions on the right bank of the Dnieper River by making it a natural border (and Putin is probably remembering that the Dnieper was, for several decades in the 18th century, the border between Russia and Poland ). And without Western heavy weapons, the Ukrainians do not have the human and material resources of the Russians and only with high morale and the will to win will they not be able to liberate the country.

There is a risk that this conflict will turn into a war of attrition, which is exactly what Russia would want. Putin is hoping that the Westerners will get fed up and abandon Ukraine, which cannot resist Russian aggression alone.

Armand Gosu is a Sovietologist, former adviser to the Romanian Foreign Ministry. Bucharest.


The Russian foreign minister has often referred to history in front of the West. In the image, he is based on Adolph Northen's original painting of Napoleon's withdrawal from Russia.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images


History gives rise to hateful comparisons

The war in Ukraine, seen as a turning point in international relations, drops concepts into the debate that also speak of its historical stature. It is explained among the experts that the Russian general Valeri Guerasimov, unlike classics such as Carl von Clausewitz, "does not consider war as the continuation of politics by other means: politics must ensure, on the contrary, the solution of military problems in the era of hybrid warfare of the 21st century", concludes Roberto Rossi, professor at the University of Rome The Sapienza.

(In its essence, its doctrine is based on the strict centralization of the management of all military, economic and political-diplomatic resources. In turn, it implies that the conflict should not be frozen but move towards an even more acute offensive phase followed by decisions political and diplomatic based on a position of strength.)

History, in fact, runs through each analysis of one and the other of the war.

Battle of stalingrad, 1942: red army soldiers engaged in street fighting with german army. (Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)

The Battle of Stalingrad (in the photo, the Red Army in this one in 1942) was a turning point in World War II that halted the advance of Nazi Germany into Soviet territory.

Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images

Lavrov accused NATO of being comparable to Napoleon and Hitler, because they are aimed at definitively resolving the Russian question, favoring the economic and political collapse of the Russian civilization-state.

Zelensky, for his part, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, urged the West to send military and economic aid and cast doubt on Putin's existence. (At the height of the counteroffensive, there was even speculation that Putin “might not make it to Christmas.” Is the Russian president a virtual reality, could he be dead, and could power management in Russia be in the hands of a hidden and unidentifiable circle? lance.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, another classic of the Cold War era, has also pointed out that for a country traversed over the centuries by foreign armies from both East and West, security always you will need both a geopolitical and a legal foundation; when its security border shifts a thousand miles east from the Elbe River towards Moscow, Russia's perception of the world order will always have an inevitably strategic component.

Thus, it is insisted that the conflict will have long-term repercussions. Others summarize it in that, "when the war ends, the world will no longer be the same."

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