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Ukraine: How much longer will the war last?

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It depends on the West and its intentions to provide fighter jets and more weapons. Participants in the Munich Security Conference are invited to open their papers.

The question runs through almost all the proceedings of the Munich Security Conference and is inescapably linked to the concern and fear together, that Ukraine may not ultimately win this war against Russia.  Going back to his New Year’s message, President Macron, who in 2022 chose to keep the dialogue channel open with his Russian counterpart, committed to the Ukrainians, for the first time with such clarity, that “we will help you until victory” making a clear rhetorical shift from “Russia cannot win this war”. But the prospect of ending the war through diplomatic channels has been almost ruled out by the Ukrainian side anyway.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who is participating in the work of the Munich Conference, made it clear that there is no question of diplomatic initiatives to end the war in his country. “I like anyone who wants to achieve peace through diplomacy,” Kouleba told newspapers from the Funke publishing group and French newspaper Ouest-France. “But how can such an initiative work? Should the price for peace be Russia’s stay in the occupied territories?”

Fighter jets will make the change

So, for now at least, the continuation of the war is one way. And if the West wants to help Ukraine to victory, it should speed up the delivery of weapons so that the war does not end in defeat and capitulation of the country. Kiev has few weapons from its own stockpiles, most of which have been destroyed after a year of war. The newspaper Die Welt lists what else the country would need from the West: Ammunition, tanks (Leopard), infantry fighting vehicles (Marder, Bradley), surface-to-surface missiles (Himars, GLSDB, Atacms), air defense systems (Iris-T , Patriots, Stinger, Nasams), armed drones (Heron TP, MQ-9 Reaper) and fighter jets (F-16, JAS 39 Gripen).

Some of these weapons have already been delivered or are promised to be delivered. But from the side of Ukraine they are not enough. After the promise of delivery of Leopard heavy armored vehicles, the Ukrainian side, and especially President Zelensky, are now pushing for the delivery of fighter jets. In his video message yesterday, he said that this is the only way to push for “victory,” using the same word Macron mentioned in his New Year’s message. So far only France, the US, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia have hinted that they are open to aircraft.

Germany has over 230 Eurofighters and Tornadoes, but Chancellor Scholz does not want to open this chapter. Military analysts, however, point out that even fighter jets are not a guarantee of “victory”.But they can make a big difference on the battlefield only in conjunction with a sufficient number of ground forces, tanks and artillery shells. Another weak point is that, because the Russians have strong air defenses, the fighter jets have to fly as low as possible and far from the front line to avoid being targeted, but on the other hand the range of the missiles that they launch. According to British think tank Rusi Ukrainian runways are actually too short to land F-16 fighter jets, for example.

To a ceasefire?

So the use of fighter jets that Kiev so ardently desires will probably not lead to victory. But the problem is deeper. After much pressure, Germany finally gave in to the request of several countries to provide German Leopard 2, but now,  as German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, it is Germany that is pushing other countries to make Leopard available, admitting that the so-called “tank alliance” proceeds at a slow pace.  But why this oligarchy at a turning point in Ukrainian?

 The reasons are many. First of all, the fear that the countries’ defense forces will be weakened. As a top NATO diplomat recently put it, the question is “how many weapons can I give away without compromising my own defense capability.” The second reason concerns the US. “The obvious goal of the US is to support Ukraine as much as possible without cornering Russia in order to prevent irrational actions such as developing nuclear weapons,” argues historian and colonel Marcus Reisner. And here comes the third reason. The West is reluctant to provide the weapons Ukraine requires and would need for a victory because it fears the spread of the war to NATO territory more than the consequences of a Ukrainian defeat.

So the answer to the original question, how much longer will the war last, depends on the West. If he quickly responds to Ukrainian requests for fighter jets, more Leopards and more ammunition, the war could end with a Ukrainian victory by the end of the year. But it is more likely that weapons will continue to be given with great difficulty. Ukraine’s forces in terms of soldiers and war material are not inexhaustible, so it does not have much room to “endure” for long. And to prevent any possible defeat, the most likely scenario is for the West to push for a ceasefire. According to a senior European diplomat, the process “could take even two years or more”, with Donbass in Russian hands. Crimea is already in Russian hands.

Source: Capital.gr

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