War of Russia against Ukraine has become a reality; it has developed from the hybrid stage to the stage of a full-scale military invasion. Let us try to sum up its first results.
Actions of Russia
– On the night of 24 February 2022, President of Russia Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” against Ukraine to demilitarise and denationalise it and ensure the right of every nation living in Ukraine to self-determination. This propaganda set shows Vladimir Putin’s desire to “solve the Ukrainian question” by breaking down Ukraine as a state and depriving the country of its right to exist. A powerful propaganda machine is helping Vladimir Putin to realize this.
– Vladimir Putin declared an operation against the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), so the first missile strike on 24 February targeted headquarters, ammunition depots, troop control systems, and air defence facilities. I would like to point out that virtually no Ukrainian planes were destroyed on the ground, which demonstrates the cooperation of NATO intelligence agencies with their Ukrainian counterparts.
– The invasion began simultaneously from the territory of occupied Crimea to Kherson, the so-called DNR and LNR to the administrative border of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, Belgorod oblast with a target on Kharkiv, and on 25 February attempts began to storm Kiev, using the territory of Belarus to move the Russian troops.
– Loyalty of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, which includes the possibility of Kalibr and Iskander missiles being fired at the Ukrainian territory and the possible involvement of Belarusian army units in the aggression, is perhaps greatest achievement of Russia in 100 hours since the start of the aggression.
– I should note that Russia has failed to establish control over any of the important cities (Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa, obviously not Lviv or Dnipro). That is, the Kremlin has not been given a platform to create a puppet “Ukrainian government”, which could be led by one of the Ukrainian politicians loyal to Russia from the recent past. As of today, that is what the former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled Ukraine in 2014, looks like one.
– Russian casualties in 100 hours of aggression exceeded 5,000 people killed, more than 10,000 wounded, hundreds of Russian military captured, more than 20 aircraft and helicopters destroyed, some 200 tanks and several hundred armoured vehicles destroyed. The Bayraktar UAVs of the AFU focus on destroying the Russian air defence missile systems (SAMs).
– The logistical problems of the Russian military, its lack of geographical references, and its ability to change tactics depending on enemy resistance should be noted.
– Rocket and artillery struck on civilian targets, the use of subversive groups and violations of the laws of war do not embellish the Russian military. Ramzan Kadyrov’s participation in combats in the outskirts of Kiev did not have the psychological effect desired by the Kremlin and they suffered heavy losses.
-Address of Vladimir Putin on 25 February to the Armed Forces of Ukraine to take power shows lack of the Russian leader of understanding not only of the manning the system of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but also of the moral and psychological climate in them.
– Statement of Vladimir Putin on 27 February on bringing deterrence forces, including nuclear forces, into “special mode” indicates failure of Russian plans to execute a blitzkrieg on Ukraine. Introduction of military censorship by Russia for its media should also be considered in this context.
Response of Ukraine
– Although Volodymyr Zelensky reacted to recognition of Russia of the so-called DNR and LNR’s “independence” for quite a long time, after the start of real aggression from Russia the President started to act proactively and quite offensively. Volodymyr Zelensky has demonstrated a willingness to lead Ukraine in a difficult situation.
– The Verkhovna Rada acted urgently, too, supporting martial law in Ukraine by a constitutional majority, and Volodymyr Zelensky announced general mobilisation on 24 February.
– Petro Poroshenko had the wisdom to moderate his political ambitions and curtail his political competition with Volodymyr Zelensky, with the SCP having initiated a poll by the Rating group suggesting that actions of Volodymyr Zelensky as President are supported by 91% of respondents. The majority of the participants in the presidential ratings are in the shadows.
– I note the high-quality managerial and informational interaction between the Minister of Defence Oleksiy Reznikov and AFU Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhniy. According to Valeriy Zaluzhniy, 100,000 citizens have joined the Armed Forces since the mobilisation was announced.
– The entry into force of the Law on the National Resistance on 1 January 2022, involving the creation of territorial defence, proved to be timely. It was able to provide considerable, sometimes decisive, assistance to the regular units of the Armed Forces.
– The positive experience of the 2014-2015 Revolution of Dignity and volunteerism should be noted; skills were quickly regained. Some days after the Russian aggression, Ukrainian citizens donated 1 billion Ukrainian Hryvnias (about 30 million Euros) to the Army.
– I would like to note presence of a number of Russian collaborators in Ukrainian politics, most notably Ilya Kiva of OPZZ, from which he was promptly expelled, but the prospects for this party are far from clear.
– It is interesting to note the escape from house arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, which indicates of the ineffective work of the SBU and the National Police.
– I emphasize the position of Rinat Akhmetov, who promised in mid-February to invest a billion dollars in Mariupol. After Vladimir Putin declared war, he paid a billion Ukrainian Hryvnias in taxes in advance.
– The start of the negotiation process between Russia and Ukraine, mediated by Aliaksandr Lukashenka, could not be effective due to the polarised positions of the parties (Vladimir Putin demands Ukraine to recognise Russia’s ownership of Crimea, renounce its plans to join NATO and federalise it, while Ukraine demands it to free the occupied territories in Crimea and Donbas); the very fact of the meeting in Belarus was demonstration of the position of the parties.
Aggression of Russia has provoked unusually harsh reactions from the US, NATO, the EU and the UK.
– The US imposed sanctions on a number of Russian banks, signalling that it was prepared to deepen them in case the Russian aggression expands. In particular, the “special status” of Russian deterrence forces has triggered symmetrical measures by the US.
– The West decided to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT payment system, which required the consolidation of European states.
– The EU has imposed personal sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, minimising the possibility of the President of Russia returning to the cohort of world leaders.
– It is significant that the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen had told that Ukraine should become a member of the EU, and the European Union had agreed to finance 450 million Euros worth of defence supplies to Ukraine, which include the transfer of 70 fighter and attack aircraft dating back to Soviet times.
– I should also note that Germany has stopped the certification of the NordStream2 gas pipeline (vital to its economy), has allowed the re-export of German weapons to Ukraine and has itself decided to supply 500 Stinger missiles and 1,000 anti-tank rocket launchers.
– Turkey has decided to close the Black Sea straits to Russian and Ukrainian warships.
– Traditionally neutral Switzerland supported imposition of EU sanctions onRussia, also imposing personal sanctions on Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Mishustin and Sergey Lavrov.
– I should note that the members of the Associated Trio – Georgia and Moldova – have refused to join imposition of the EU sanctions on Russia, which demonstrates non-public but effective pressure of the Kremlin on the leaders of these countries.
The challenges faced by Ukraine:
– To withstand the first strike of Russia while keeping the Army in control – achieved.
– To inflict maximum damage on the aggressor is in the process of being resolved.
– To secure international support – practically solved, with generally above-standard results.
– To accelerate European and Euro-Atlantic integration – got a serious boost for a positive resolution.
– To create an image of a state that is different from that of Russia and can compete with Russia – is in the process of being resolved.
The challenges faced by Russia:
– To promptly defeat the Ukrainian Armed Forces – failed.
– To seize political platforms to proclaim an alternative legitimate authority in Ukraine – not implemented
– To discredit the political leadership of Ukraine – failed to achieve visible success.
– To create an atmosphere of panic – success is relative, the activity of the propaganda machine is high, but the coefficient of useful activity is not high.
– To disintegrate Ukraine into several components – not solved, extremely difficult to implement.
SUMMARY: Today we are witnessing the completion of the process of forming a Ukrainian political nation, which is capable of impacting the political landscape not only of the Central and Eastern European region, but also of the continent as a whole.