The truce for Orthodox Christmas gives Ukraine a breather before an upcoming war escalation

Time is already playing against the Russians and Ukrainians in the war that confronts them. Moscow wants to consolidate its power in the eastern strip of territory seized from Ukraine and kyiv is trying to recover at least a significant part of the invaded regions that can give it strength in eventual negotiations. However, the dialogue seems still very far awaydespite the latest calls from international actors such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The first half of 2023 is key to turning the war around and both opponents are preparing for a rise in the contest in which the intervention of the United States and European countries is increasingly flagrant and compromised, as also seems evident the Russian will to reach the last consequences to maintain the “new reality” of occupied Ukraine and stop the Western advance towards its borders.

In the midst of their particular war disasters, in which the lives of civilians and conscript soldiers count less and less, the Russian and Ukrainian armies move their gears to change the course of the conflict, in a war escalation that could end in devastate the invaded country or shake the invader to its foundations. Or both. For not only the fate of Ukraine as an independent state is at stake, but also the very stability and survival of the Vladimir Putin regime.

The armies of Russia and Ukraine move their gears to change the course of the contest

The Ukrainian Ministry of Economy has recognized that the GDP of his country plummeted by 30.4% in 2022, as a result of the destruction caused by the war, especially by the Russian attacks on energy distribution centers and other infrastructure. Ukrainian reviews.

But in Russia it could be worse. As political scientists and historians Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage point out in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, a Russian defeat in Ukraine could have positive consequences for many of its neighbors, but it could also “create a vortex of instability that would affect to the whole planet.” Hence the impossibility of Moscow to accept the withdrawal of its troops as an unavoidable step to negotiate, as kyiv claims.

Turkish president calls for a unilateral ceasefire with Putin

Even so, international attempts to redirect the war towards an armistice continue. Erdogan asked Putin on Thursday for a “unilateral ceasefire” to negotiate a “fair solution” to the war. The Turkish leader has also offered to mediate between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Russian leader has responded that he has no problem sitting at a table with the Ukrainian president as long as all the Kremlin’s demands are met. Higher and impossible to reach he couldn’t have set the bar.

As a show of goodwill, however, Putin has ordered a temporary ceasefire, from January 6 to 7, to celebrate Orthodox Christmas. This is the first truce announced by any of the contenders since the war began on February 24. The order, requested by the Orthodox Patriarch Cyril, has already been described by kyiv as “hypocrisy”.

It is the first truce announced by any of the contenders since the war began

In his conversation with Erdogan, one of the few interlocutors he has in NATO, Putin has demanded that Ukraine’s “new territorial realities” be taken into account, that is, the acceptance by the kyiv government of the de facto partition of his country with the annexation of one fifth by Russia.

The new Ukrainian reality, according to Putin’s script, is kyiv’s recognition of the annexation of the Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, invaded in this war that began on February 24. Under this scheme, Ukraine also has to permanently give up Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014.

As much as Erdogan tries to intercede between Putin and Zelensky, the two sides are still a long way from a nascent dialogue. As part of his demands for a negotiation, Putin has also demanded the demilitarization of Ukraine, something unthinkable, neither now nor in the future.

The promise of new arms shipments to Ukraine with which it could organize a large-scale counteroffensive, the increase in Russian tactical bombing of critical Ukrainian infrastructure, as well as the arrival of new military contingents sent by the Kremlin to the occupied territories augur well. rather an intensification of war operations in the coming months.

France will be the first country to send tanks to Ukraine

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron promised his Ukrainian counterpart AMX-10RC light main battle tanks for the Ukrainian army. This type of armored vehicle is an ideal weapon given its mobility to protect the advance of infantry. That is to say, it could be the perfect armored support in a large-scale offensive, hence the speed for the dispatch of these tanks. It is amphibious and can be used for reconnaissance missions at the forefront of a massive attack.

It is the first time that a European government has decided to send Western tanks to Ukraine, one of the red lines drawn by Moscow to increasing arms aid to the kyiv government. And there are already those in Europe who are calling on the Germans to do the same with the powerful Leopard II, some tanks that could turn the war of positions that is currently taking place in Ukraine upside down.

Until now, Germany has refused to send this type of tank, so requested by Zelenski, but the delivery of thirty French AMC-10RC puts the Olaf Scholz government in a difficult position. The German chancellor had refused the supply of tanks so as not to provoke a major confrontation with Moscow if possible. Germany also did not want to be the first European country to supply these types of weapons, but the French announcement leaves the Scholz Administration without arguments.

Moscow denounces “the destructive role” of the West

In the Kremlin’s message about the telephone conversation between Erdogan and Putin, it is emphasized that the Russian head of state stressed “the destructive role” that Western states are having, by supplying the Ukrainian army with weapons and military equipment, in addition to providing it ” operational information” and point you to objectives.

One of those targets marked by Western intelligence could be the building where several companies of Russian soldiers were stationed in the town of Makiivka and which was destroyed by Ukrainian missiles, with hundreds of deaths and injuries in the attack.

The Makiivka massacre of Russian conscripts on New Year’s Eve seems to be viewed in kyiv, Washington, London and Brussels only as a successful military coup and not as a massacre of young men recently drawn into the war by force.

The Russian head of state stressed “the destructive role” that Western states are having

And yet this coup is the biggest setback suffered by Russia since the beginning of the war, not so much because of the number of soldiers lost, but because of the mistakes made by the Russian command, which allowed recruits to use mobile phones easily. detectable by Ukrainian forces. In addition, the soldiers were housed next to an ammunition magazine, which turned the parking lot into a death trap.

In Russia, criticism is growing against the military command of the forces stationed in Ukraine and the demand for punishment for Russian officers whose mistakes could have led to the massacre.

Russia makes muscle with its own hypersonic missiles

But Russia has also not forgotten that the missiles that destroyed the temporary Makiivka barracks in the occupied Donetsk region were fired by the high-precision HIMARS system, donated to Ukraine by the United States. The president of this country, Joe Biden, has already indicated that he is considering joining France in delivering Bradley light battle tanks to the Ukrainian army, in another sign that such a major Ukrainian counteroffensive could take place in the coming months.

The Bradleys, produced in the 1980s, were the protagonists of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. With their firepower and great mobility, they surpassed even Abrams heavy main battle tanks when it came to destroying enemy targets.

As part of the Russian counter-propaganda, the Kremlin is these days displaying its Zircon missiles, a hypersonic weapon that exceeds nine times the speed of sound and hits targets a thousand kilometers away. Moscow seems to make it clear that it is not afraid of attacks from the HIMARS system and that its intention is to continue pounding Ukrainian territory with its entire artillery and missile arsenal.

The Zircon missiles are aboard the Admiral Gorshkov frigate, which left an unnamed Russian port on Wednesday. Putin spoke to the command post of the ship, which will sail through the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. In his patriotic address, Putin stressed that this type of missile “has no analogues in the world” and “will help protect the national interests” of Russia. It is the first time that Zircon missiles, whose first tests date back to 2021, have been deployed in a war situation.

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