21 Sep 2022 2:37 p.m

Seven months have passed since the start of Russia’s special military operation. Peace negotiations seem further away than ever. Nevertheless, the question remains: What is likely to prompt the opposing parties to resolve the conflict, and what form might an agreement take?

By Bernd Murawski

The military action in Ukraine, which Moscow intended to be regionally limited, has meanwhile expanded into a geopolitical tug of war. The acts of war were supplemented by a propaganda campaign in which the West positioned itself against Russia. The conflict has acquired a global dimension as a result of western sanctions in the economic and financial sectors. In the meantime, it is becoming clear who is the winner and who is the loser in these three areas of conflict. The result may have surprised some.

On the military front, one can speak of a stalemate, despite Ukraine’s recent territorial gains near Kharkov and the slow advance of Russian military forces on the Donetsk battlefield. The West can claim a victory in the information war. However, he has to state that the successes of his propaganda are largely limited to his own sphere of influence. There is also a risk that public interest will wane and that political incantations will have less and less effect.

Western interest exists quite objectively

As for the economic war, not only have assumptions of the fragility of the Russian economy proved incorrect, but the sanctions are increasingly boomeranging for the West itself to find gas supplies.

The previous deregulation of the financial markets is exacerbating the situation, since the foreseeable shortage of gas and other energy sources is already leading to massive price increases on the spot markets. The higher costs for gas and electricity are strangling producers and consumers and setting in motion an economic downward spiral that can hardly be stopped by government aid packages.

Apparently, the affected states have an objective interest in a speedy solution to the conflict, which is a prerequisite for at least a partial lifting of the sanctions. However, Western leaders have reached out so far that withdrawing would seriously undermine their credibility. Hardliners in particular, who wield power in the United States, Great Britain and the western countries bordering Russia, would suffer a severe loss of face. They would have to give up their main goal, which, as they have declared, is not the welfare of Ukraine, but the weakening of Russia.

In contrast to the EU countries, the USA is only slightly affected by the sanctions, and the increased export of fracking gas even gives them advantages. Nevertheless, an economic slump in Europe would affect their own export sectors. More serious is the fact that if the German economy loses competition due to rising energy costs, the global competitor China is the main beneficiary.

In addition, the efforts to weaken the Western-dominated financial system, which were accelerated at Russian urging, have hardly escaped the attention of the US leadership. Its dismantling by the West by freezing foreign assets of the Russian central bank could find imitators.

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For example, countries in the Global South that owe money in US dollars could refuse to repay the loans. The apparent fiasco of anti-Russian sanctions and expected aid pledges from China would allay fears of a Western economic embargo. Coupled with increasing invoicing of commodity trading in local currencies, dollar dominance would come to an end.

Misjudgments and challenges from the Russian side

Russia has managed to assert its position in international formats such as the BRICS and the SZO and to persuade most states to take a neutral stance. Nevertheless, economic setbacks cannot be completely avoided. China, as the most important economic partner, understandably does not want to subject itself to US sanctions. His companies exercise restraint and can only satisfy Russian technology demand to a limited extent and by means of complex company vehicles. And although many spare parts and other products from the West – via Kyrgyzstan, for example – continue to reach Russia, this is at extra cost and with a delay.

Nevertheless, Russia is confronted with growing challenges in the military conflict. The Kremlin’s early attempt to persuade the Ukrainian military leadership to capitulate and take power in Kyiv in view of the sheer superiority of the Russian army failed. Expectations of an uprising by the population in the mostly Russian-speaking cities have also not been fulfilled. Instead of the Ukrainian combat readiness being broken by the threatening backdrop of armored forces advancing on Kyiv, a growing will to resist developed, which Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy showed considerable talent in pushing.

The original intention of gaining the sympathy of the Ukrainian population by avoiding civilian casualties and the destruction of transport routes and other infrastructure has not only failed, but also helped the Ukrainian military to defend itself. In addition, it was able to replenish its ranks through a general mobilization, while the Russian side relied on contract soldiers. The ability to recruit volunteer fighters is limited, despite decent pay and a return-to-work guarantee. This inevitably has consequences for the conduct of the war. The current tactic of wearing down the enemy with superior artillery before your own army advances is apparently due to the need to keep your own losses low.

Putin: Russian weapons are highly efficient compared to NATO weapons

After the debacle near Kharkov, critical voices were raised in Russia’s political circles and media, calling for tougher action. The fact that it was a planned withdrawal of Russian units was not considered credible. The news that Ukraine had suffered significant casualties in its offensive operation was cold consolation.

Increasingly, demands were made for partial mobilization. It was justified by the fact that the Russian military operation on Ukrainian soil had developed into a war against the united West. In response, the Russian military leadership attacked the Ukrainian power grid and damaged a dam near Krivoi Rog in order to slow down the Ukrainian advance. Further measures were then refrained from in order to avoid an escalation and to keep the burden on the country’s own citizens low.

After analyzing the situation, the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense finally decided on the required partial mobilization. The Kremlin leadership has accepted the proposal, which has now been announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Further steps such as the conversion to a war economy are currently not up for debate.

The third party alongside the West and Russia is the Ukrainian leadership, which postulates the goal of recapturing the lost territories, including Crimea. As was evident in the negotiations towards the end of March, Kyiv would be quite willing to compromise as soon as the situation proved hopeless. If at that time pressure was being exerted to continue the armed struggle, the West could currently impose the opposite orientation.

more on the subject – Video: Putin’s speech on partial mobilization in Russia

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Source: RT

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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