Ljubljana – After seven weeks of war, Ukraine, the EU, US and UK are nowhere near winning. The territories in Ukraine controlled by Russian army increased significantly in the south and east in recent weeks and the end of the war is not in sight, Dnevnik says in Friday’s commentary Ending Clashes in the Grip of the Battlefield.
“The picture of territories won is not bad under Russian standards but is disastrous for Ukraine and the West. With the imminent fall of the last Ukrainian positions in Mariupol, Russia will after weeks of destructive war that sent millions of people fleeing the country create a broad bridge on land between the seized Crimean peninsula and the rebel Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“At its narrow most end, the distance between the coast and positions of the Ukrainian army is around a hundred kilometres. These are big territorial gains. They will definitely change the negotiating equation at peace talks, which have been at a standstill for a few weeks, because despite Ukraine’s readiness to give up NATO membership and declare neutrality, their development is dictated by the relations of power in the battlefield.”
Vladimir Putin has simply not decided that it is time to end the war. Now he is focussing on conquering Donetsk and Luhansk. It is not clear yet whether he will use the land bridge from Crimea to surround Ukrainian forces that will try to defend the two regions or he plans to claim those territories during negotiations as well.
Sanctions imposed by the West, the strictest so far, have not managed to stop him. Although Russia’s economy is expected to shrink by at least 15% this year, Moscow is still convinced the country will be able to bypass the sanctions or at least find new markets.
One consolation for Putin is that China has not reduced trading with Russia and India is ready to buy every oil barrel offered at a discount. Moreover, the EU has not decided yet whether to introduce embargo on Russian oil and gas, which would have tremendous economic consequences.