Russian Vs Ukraine

Nine months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it looks like a long war will ensue. The Russian military appears incapable of capturing Kyiv or occupying a major portion of the country. Even if Russia manages to win on the battlefield, its occupation regime will face significant problems establishing legitimacy with the local population.

Many pro-Russian fighters have financial or other reasons for fighting, but others appear to believe in the idea of an imperial Russian nation or that the ‘fascist junta’ in Kyiv is determined to pull Ukraine away from its historical identification with the Orthodox and Russian world. This belief has contributed to Russia’s failure to recruit and retain enough volunteers to conduct a massive invasion of Ukraine.

Moreover, in the first presidential elections held since independence, voting patterns reflect Ukrainians’ growing sense of national unity. Leonid Kuchma, a pro-Western politician who favoured a policy of pragmatic balancing between Russia and the West, won 90 percent or more of the vote in western Ukraine oblasts while his pro-Russian opponent, Viktor Yanukovych, was doomed by a divided electorate.

These setbacks have pushed Russia’s leader into a retreat and forced him to scale back his goals. He now talks of defending Russia’s ‘historical frontiers’ and’rebuilding peaceful life in Donbas and Novorossiya’, referring to the areas it seized last year that include Crimea. However, he has already annexated four regions that he does not fully control and his opportunist moves with old allies in the Middle East could easily lead to a great-power conflict as American allies move to counter Russian aggression.