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The past and present of Russia’s war in Ukraine

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The past and present of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Context :

  • A year after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, there are signs of escalation everywhere.
  • The West has recently announced the supply of more advanced weapons to Ukraine, deepening its involvement in the conflict.
  • In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has already reinforced Russian positions along the 1,000­km long frontline in Ukraine with hundreds of thousands of troops, announced the suspension of his country’s participation in the New Start treaty, which could trigger a nuclear arms race.

  • Ukraine, with the free flow of weapons from the West, hopes to arrest the Russian advances and begin its own offensive to regain lost land.
  • As the war is extended, risks of a direct confrontation between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), both nuclear powers, are also on the rise.

The current status of the war :

  • Russia is expected to launch a new offensive in the coming days.
  • As of now, Russians control all major highways into Bakhmut, except one (Chasiv Yar), which Ukrainian troops are using for reinforcement and resupply.
  • Russians have opened two more fronts, one in Izium, northwest of Bakhmut in Kharkiv Oblast, and the other in Vuhledar, south of Bakhmut in Donetsk.

  • Ukraine is trying to hold on to the territories until more weapons and trained fighters arrive from the West.
  • It would take a few more weeks before the main battle tanks pledged by Western countries, including Leopard 2 (German), M1 Abrams (American) and Challenger 2 (British), arrive at the battlefield.

Strategy of the west :

  • The West’s approach has been two-fold:
    1. punish Russia’s economy through sanctions and thereby weaken its war machine,
    2. arming Ukraine to counter the Russian offensive.
  • The Western support has played a critical part in Ukraine’s resistance and counter­offensive.
  • The U.S. is Ukraine’s biggest aid provider — it has pledged military and financial assistance worth over $70 billion.
  • The EU has pledged $37 billion and among the EU countries, the U.K. and Germany top the list.
  • The new weapons helped Ukraine turn around the momentum, but Ukrainian gains froze in December.
  • Now, when Russia is preparing for another offensive, the West is coming to Ukraine’s rescue once again, with more advanced weapons, including missile defence systems, armoured vehicles, tank killers, battle tanks and precision bombs.
  • While the approach of arming Ukraine has been effective in at least halting the Russian advances, hurting Russia economically has been a double-edged sword.
  • Sanctions on Russia, one of the top global producers of oil and gas, hit the global economy hard, worsening an inflationary crisis across the West, particularly in Europe.
  • Russia also took a hit, but it found alternative markets for its energy exports in Asia, redrawing the global energy export landscape.
  • Last year, despite sanctions, Russia raised its oil output by 2% and boosted oil export earnings by 20%, to $218 billion.

Possibility for a negotiated settlement?

  • Immediately after the war began, Russian and Ukrainian officials had started talks.
  • According to former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, both sides had exchanged several drafts about a potential peace plan in March 2022, but the U.S. and the U.K. staunchly opposed Ukraine reaching any agreement with Russia.
  • For any peace plan to succeed, two complex issues should be addressed — Ukraine’s territories and Russia’s security concerns.
  • As the war enters its second year, the possibility for such an understanding is very low.

SOURCE : THE HINDU

Syllabus : Mains; GS 2-International Relations

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