A few weeks ago, the International Criminal Court (ICC) accepted jurisdiction over potential war crimes in Ukraine, making Russia’s aggression a crime against humanity. The ICC action was a significant step, but it’s unlikely to end the war. Putin clings to the delusional view that “regaining” Ukraine will give Russia an advantage on the global stage and in regional security. Despite this, he faces many challenges: a war-damaged military that will take years to reconstitute; a likely economic stagnation cut off from high-tech imports; an alienated and rearming Europe; an escalating humanitarian crisis; and the threat of sanctions connected to concrete actions, especially military withdrawal.
A month into the conflict, Russian public opinion is distancing itself from the fighting in Ukraine. A recent poll found that fewer than half of respondents say they “definitely support” or “mostly support” the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. The number who do is lower than in the first four months of the war. They are less likely to express pride in Russia’s military campaign and are far more likely to say they feel anxious, fearful, or horror about the invasion.
The stalemate in Ukraine exposes the myth of an invincible Russian military machine. Even in the closest areas to Kyiv, Russian forces have been beaten back by Ukrainian bravery and effective use of limited resources. The ominous shift in the war to a drawn-out battle of attrition raises profound questions about civilian survival and the fate of Ukraine as a sovereign state.