Ukraine wins back territory, support, but Russia to test West's resolve again

    WORLD  06 October 2022 - 22:33

    The Guardian has published an article analysing the course of actions by Ukraine and Russia in the ongoing war and the West's Ukraine support and further scenarios it should be ready for. The article says that "talk of nuclear escalation or attacks on pipelines may be far-fetched at present, but Moscow has other levers at its disposal". Caliber.Az reprints the article.

    Every human being liberated from Russia's savage occupation represents a victory for Ukraine. But the continuing liberation of occupied territories is vitally important outside Ukraine too. The ejection of Russian forces sends vital messages to Moscow, Washington and Brussels as well, and Ukraine's advances will have broader impacts that are far more significant than the immediate tactical gains.

    First, as with the Ukrainian autumn offensive overall, they are a clear demonstration to Kyiv's western backers that the war is not static. Earlier in the year fears of a protracted stalemate were causing hesitation and doubt over whether Ukraine and its supporters could stay the course. Now, Ukraine has removed that doubt by seizing the initiative and maintaining it far longer than most outside observers thought possible. That can only stiffen western resolve to stand firm with Kyiv. In particular, it has pulled the rug from under the persistent argument that Ukraine should "make concessions" to end the fighting - concessions that in many cases are indistinguishable from surrender.

    Second, in Russia itself, the undeniable defeats suffered in Ukraine are presenting Russia's propagandists with an unbridgeable reality gap. Earlier in the conflict, Russia's strong grip on the information reaching its subjects meant that war aims could be reinvented at will – and repeatedly were, as Russia failed to meet its stated objectives so had to think up new ones. Now, that grip has slipped, and instead of spinning the facts, the propaganda machine is spinning out of control. When one day Vladimir Putin declares that Russia has "annexed" parts of Ukraine and they will be Russian forever, and the next day the news is full of Russian forces being driven out of them, even the most Orwellian suspension of reality will be put under strain. Even more, this will erode Russia's international support still further as the farcical nature of Putin's claims has been exposed for all the world to see.

    Nevertheless, while Ukrainian military success is also performance art that will help western backers hold their nerve, it is also a race against time. Russia is likely eventually to overcome the chaos of its initial efforts at mobilisation – and once the newly mobilised troops are finally deployed in some usable form, that will change the nature of the conflict once again. So it's vital for the Ukrainian counteroffensive to continue to make progress faster than Russia's mobilisation can be brought to bear.

    Ukrainian success is also a balancing act. Some western politicians continue to fear Ukrainian victory, largely because Russia's long-running campaign to persuade people that defeat for Russia will inevitably lead to the use of nuclear weapons has been spectacularly successful. Actual preparations for use of nuclear weapons would be a serious cause for concern. But that isn't happening; according to the US government and other well-informed observers, Russia is not taking the necessary steps to prepare. And yet, after all this time, people are still paying attention to what Putin is saying rather than what his armed forces are doing.

    Fear of nuclear use, and the idea that Russia has amended its nuclear doctrine to cover a broader range of circumstances, is greatest among analysts – nuclear experts among them – who are new to the Russia problem. In fact, there's a clear divide between them and experienced Russian hands who tend to assign a much lower probability to Putin ordering a nuclear strike.

    It's not just threats of retaliation by the west that might cause Russia's leadership to hesitate to order a nuclear strike. Russia knows full well that successful nuclear blackmail with or without an actual launch would set in train an appalling process of global nuclear proliferation. There are also practical considerations such as the possibility the Russian armed forces would be hesitant to follow an order to launch because they would prefer to continue to exist. And unfortunately for Europe, Russia has plenty of other means of causing destruction in Ukraine or intimidation across the rest of the continent before resorting to nuclear weapons.

    Russia may have failed in successive efforts at undermining western support for Ukraine, such as grain blockades or gas cutoffs. But its options are far from exhausted, and Moscow will be looking for new ways to make this war personal for people across Europe and North America in the hope that they will put pressure on their governments to abandon Kyiv. One form of escalation that now seems less likely is a Russian attack on subsea energy infrastructure, now that the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines have placed the whole of Europe on alert.

    But Russian soldiers were roaming Europe carrying out murders and sabotage attacks well before 2022. Chemical or biological attacks, or resuming Moscow's long-term practice of sponsoring violent terrorists to wreak havoc in the west, are all still options for leadership in Moscow that has abandoned all restraint along with any aspiration to salvage its relationship with Europe.

    So while Ukraine may be delivering spectacular successes on the battlefield, for now, there is still a long way from today to the end of the war – and it's still vital for Ukraine's western backers to show stamina and resolve to see it through. Russia will undoubtedly find new means to test that resolve – and western politicians and citizens should be ready.


    Subscribe to our Telegram channel

Read also

EU backs Croatia’s entry into Schengen, rejects Bulgaria, Romania

08 December 2022 - 21:00

Britain at risk of becoming country that can’t feed itself

08 December 2022 - 20:52

National Assembly passes bills on scrapping "Korean age"

08 December 2022 - 20:25

EU representative urges Georgia to provide medical care to detained Saakashvili

08 December 2022 - 18:24

Migrants face "unprecedented rise in violence" in EU borders

08 December 2022 - 19:12

Brittney Griner freed in prisoner swap with Russian arms dealer

08 December 2022 - 17:25
Latest news

    Alain Berset elected as 2023 Swiss president

    08 December 2022 - 23:02

    Biden says "we can" ban assault weapons as clock ticks for Democratic Congress

    08 December 2022 - 22:31

    Ukraine exposes suspected spy spouses working for Russia


    08 December 2022 - 22:22

    UK approves controversial new coal mine, sparking criticism

    08 December 2022 - 22:01

    Russian forces systematically stealing Ukrainian art, cultural artefacts - report

    08 December 2022 - 21:33

    Azerbaijan dismisses Armenia's claims on int'l mechanisms for protection of Karabakh Armenians

    Hajiyev responds Grigoryan

    08 December 2022 - 21:12

    Azerbaijan to put up seven banks' property for action

    08 December 2022 - 21:08

    EU backs Croatia’s entry into Schengen, rejects Bulgaria, Romania

    08 December 2022 - 21:00

    Britain at risk of becoming country that can’t feed itself

    08 December 2022 - 20:52

    Azerbaijani FM informs US official about illegal activities on Lachin road

    08 December 2022 - 20:39

    National Assembly passes bills on scrapping "Korean age"

    08 December 2022 - 20:25

    Ronaldo breaks silence amid claims he threatened to walk out on Portugal

    08 December 2022 - 20:17

    Armenian PM, EU special rep discuss regional situation

    08 December 2022 - 20:09

    Azerbaijani athletes attend World Games of Young Compatriots in Russia

    08 December 2022 - 20:00

    Yerevan wants EU to stay in Armenia forever

    08 December 2022 - 19:53

    Azerbaijan, US to discuss "Middle Corridor" in Baltimore

    08 December 2022 - 19:42

    Turkish ambassador, Azerbaijan Press Council chairman mull media co-op

    08 December 2022 - 19:33

    Incoming Mexican ambassador arrives in Azerbaijan

    08 December 2022 - 19:24

    Migrants face "unprecedented rise in violence" in EU borders

    08 December 2022 - 19:12

    President: Türkiye's exports close to record $300 billion

    08 December 2022 - 18:59

    Minister: Ukraine receives $27 billion aid internationally

    08 December 2022 - 18:47

    US to deploy HIMARS, infantry to Estonia soon

    08 December 2022 - 18:39

    Embassy: Charges against two Azerbaijanis arrested in Kyiv contain bias

    08 December 2022 - 18:31

    EU representative urges Georgia to provide medical care to detained Saakashvili

    08 December 2022 - 18:24

    Yerevan hosts US-Armenia strategic dialogue

    08 December 2022 - 18:17

    Azerbaijani specialists inspect dead seals


    08 December 2022 - 18:10

    FM: Armenians have been destroying Azerbaijani cultural heritage for 30 years

    08 December 2022 - 18:06

    Azerbaijani army holds contest for best commando company title


    08 December 2022 - 18:03

    "Russian mediation - Take 2"

    Farhad Mammadov's opinion

    08 December 2022 - 17:56

    Turkish special forces members, Türkiye’s envoy hold discussions in Baku


    08 December 2022 - 17:48

    WB: Azerbaijan's private sector development requires special attention

    08 December 2022 - 17:41

    Russian, Armenian leaders to meet in Bishkek on December 9

    08 December 2022 - 17:38

    EU's Borrell addresses European depleting arms stocks, calls to stop arms assistance

    08 December 2022 - 17:34

    Putin cites Ukraine's actions to justify Russian strikes on energy infrastructure

    08 December 2022 - 17:27

    Brittney Griner freed in prisoner swap with Russian arms dealer

    08 December 2022 - 17:25

    Official: Azerbaijan working to inform int’l courts of Armenia's war crimes

    08 December 2022 - 17:20

    Top Azerbaijani cleric: Revanchism in Armenia doesn't subside

    08 December 2022 - 17:15

    Russian deserter who opens fire on police - member of Wagner Group

    08 December 2022 - 17:13

    Russian expert: Peace treaty will be signed despite Armenians' resistance

    Conversation with Stanislav Tarasov

    08 December 2022 - 17:06

    Armenia should pay $1 trillion in reparations to Azerbaijan

    08 December 2022 - 16:58

    South Caucasus drifts away from France in “separaPEACE” show starred by Harutunyan

    Adieu, France!

    08 December 2022 - 16:52

    Moscow: EU eyes to squeeze Russia out of South Caucasus

    08 December 2022 - 16:51

    Azerbaijan’s Aztelecom, EBRD discuss cooperation

    08 December 2022 - 16:44

    Cargo air transportation between Armenia, Türkiye said to start by late 2022

    08 December 2022 - 16:36

    Armenia considers all options for Aliyev-Pashinyan meeting

    08 December 2022 - 16:34

All news