By Sanjeev Sharma
New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) Over the last few months, Ukrainian forces have slowly regained territory in the Russian-occupied regions in southern and eastern parts of the war-torn nation.
To date, the Ukrainians have reclaimed 54 per cent of Russian-occupied land and are continuing to make progress, writes Mark Temnycky, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center for The Hill.
But as Ukraine continues this success, others are becoming impatient. According to reports, some Westerners are pressuring Kiev to speed up its counteroffensive in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Others have pushed for forced negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, believing that this is the best chance to end the war, even if it benefits Russia’s ambitions.
Unlike the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring of 2022, which saw the Ukrainians swiftly push the Russians out of northern Ukraine, the counteroffensive in the south and east has been a lot slower. Russian forces have fortified their positions in these regions, where Ukrainian soldiers are reporting deep trenches and other barriers that stretch for miles, the author said.
In addition, the Russians have planted hundreds of kilometers of minefields in the Russian-occupied regions.
These obstacles have delayed Ukrainian progress in the region as Ukrainian forces are removing the barriers and other hazards before their troops advance. In other words, the Ukrainians are making calculated decisions in the south and east to ensure that they avoid as many casualties as possible.
Morale within Ukraine remains high, but the loss of life is real, the article said.
Meanwhile, support for aid to Ukraine in the US appears to be waning.
One of the hold-ups for the 2024 government spending bill was aid to Ukraine. House Republicans are split over assistance to Ukraine.
Events in Poland and the US are early warning signs for Ukraine. They suggest a weakening of support, and even that some elected officials are willing to risk continued support for Ukraine in exchange for political favourability amongst voters against Ukraine assistance.
Public opinion polls on aid to Ukraine have also seen a decline in the US and Europe over time, the article said.
If support for Ukraine wanes in 2024, Russia could force a peace settlement with Ukraine. The international community might pressure the Ukrainians into negotiating and signing an agreement favorable to Russia.
Assuming that they would have learned from their previous errors, the Russians could launch a new invasion of Ukraine, and with the international community no longer motivated to support Ukraine, this could result in Russia making further advances, the article said.
Given all this, Ukraine must win the war against Russia in 2023.
And Ukraine is currently gaining ground in the southern and eastern occupied territories, it added.