Within a few months, the Ukrainian forces were able to halt the progress of their Russian counterparts on several combat fronts, in the face of continued Western support for Kiev, amid expectations that Ukraine could resolve the conflict in 2023, which speaks of the cause repercussions. of this about the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the expected scenarios of escalation between sides in the coming period.
Putin’s regime is living in “lost time”, according to an analysis by “Foreign Affairs” magazine, which indicates that the advance of Ukrainian forces on the battlefield and the enduring unity of the West and its determination to confront aggression against Ukraine, could lead to a near Russian defeat that would have internal repercussions in Moscow.
Russian field retreat?
Some 11 months after the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, Russian forces have suffered several major setbacks in recent months.
Since Ukraine launched a bold counteroffensive in late August last year, the fighting has been concentrated in Donbass, which includes most of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which are partly controlled by Russia and which Moscow says it has annexed, according to Reuters.
Fighting has focused in recent weeks around the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where mercenaries from the Russian private military company Wagner and Ukrainian forces are fighting a battle of attrition.
In November last year, Russian forces left the strategic city of Kherson, in one of Ukraine’s most important gains in the war.
Neither side has announced major moves on the southern front since November, when Russia withdrew from the city of Kherson.
For months, the line of contact between the Ukrainian and Russian armies in southern Ukraine has been stagnant, and no major clashes have taken place there, except for the Kherson regions (south) until November and Donetsk (east), the center of the current clashes, according to “AFP”.
And the expert specializing in Russian affairs, Nabil Rashwan, points out: “Russia’s failure to achieve important field gains and the withdrawal of its forces during the last period.”
In his interview with Al-Hurra website, he says: “The Russian army has not been able to achieve great victories, and all the gains that Moscow has made recently have come into the hands of the Wagner militia.”
For his part, the director of the Moscow-based “Realist” expert center, Amr El-Deeb, denies the recent withdrawal of Russian forces on the Ukrainian front.
He told Al-Hurra that the Russian withdrawal from some Ukrainian regions and cities, led by Kherson, came “for tactical reasons that are present in all military operations,” as he put it.
Al-Deeb believes that the Russian forces managed to make field gains during the last period, citing the control of the Moscow forces over the town of Solidar and the possibility of their control over the nearby city of Bakhmut.
After the fiercest fighting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army and the “Wagner” group of mercenaries announced their control over the small town of Solidar in the east of the country.
And Solidar, which was known for its salt mines, is located 15 km northeast of Bakhmut, which Russian forces have been trying to control for months.
Wagner’s forces and the Russian military have been trying since last summer to control the city of Bakhmut, located in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, despite its “modest strategic importance”, but they have failed.
2023.. the decisive year?
Western arms supplies are essential to Kiev and in particular enabled it to launch an effective counterattack that removed Russian forces from the Kharkiv region in the northeast and from the city of Kherson in the south, according to “Agence France Presse”.
And if Western support for Kiev continues, 2023 will be a decisive year for the war in Ukraine, according to “Foreign Affairs”.
Although the Western allies have not reached an agreement to deliver heavy tanks to Ukraine, these countries are accelerating the supply of weapons to Kiev and expressing confidence in their chances of victory in the war waged against them by Russia.
Rashwan believes that Ukraine is capable of resolving the conflict during the year 2023 in the case of continued Western support for Ukraine, saying that “the differences and reservations between the Western allies are simply strategic maneuvers.”
And he points out that “Ukraine will get these weapons in the end,” and expects Ukrainian forces to make “new ground gains” early next spring.
On the other hand, El-Deeb points out “the dangers of continued Western support for Ukraine or providing it with specific weapons.”
According to al-Deeb, if the delivery of qualitative weapons to Ukraine develops, or if these weapons reach Moscow or major Russian cities, this will have very serious consequences that “Russia will not tolerate.”
As for the Russian side, there are already mistakes and losses because the Ukrainian forces are well-trained and have great combat experience, and they are continuously supplied with modern weapons, which makes the fight “continue for a long time,” according to El-Deeb .
Is Russia losing the war?
If the West continues to support Kiev “military and financially,” Ukrainian forces are capable of “achieving a quick victory,” according to “Foreign Affairs.”
This is confirmed by Rashwan, who speaks of “an expected loss for Russia in the war in the event of continued Western support for Kiev.”
He says: “The war in Ukraine has become a very big dilemma for the Kremlin, and Russia should not have entered it from the beginning.”
On the other hand, El-Deeb believes that Russia is capable of continuing the war for a “very long time,” noting that there are no indications that it is “almost over.”
El-Deeb says Moscow will not “lose the war” and will never allow it, whatever the cost.
Is Russia using nuclear power?
A close Putin ally said Sunday that supplying Kiev with offensive weapons that would threaten Russia’s territory would lead to a global catastrophe and weaken arguments against the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament (the State Duma), has warned that US and NATO support for Ukraine will lead the world into a “terrible war”.
Volodin’s comments follow a similar threat made last week by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former prime minister and former president.
In Thursday’s remarks, Medvedev said, “The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war could trigger a nuclear war,” referring to the military campaign launched by his country in Ukraine.
In a post on Telegram commenting on NATO’s support for the Ukrainian military, Medvedev, an ally of current President Vladimir Putin, wrote: “Nuclear forces never lose in major conflicts on which their fate depends.”
Rashwan emphasizes that the constant Russian threats to use “nuclear weapons” cannot be taken “seriously”.
He says, “These threats reflect the difficult situation in Ukraine, and indicate a crisis in which the Russian forces are experiencing.”
On the other hand, El-Deeb believes that these statements express “personal opinions” rather than a fixed Russian political position.
According to al-Deeb’s statement, the threats are a “reaffirmation” of what is in Russian military and security doctrine.
“If there is a direct threat to the territorial integrity of Russia or to the entity of the Russian Federation, the response will be very strong with all available means,” he says.
In his speech, he quotes Putin’s repeated statements in this regard.
Putin has talked a lot about “not allowing” a repeat of the scenario of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 after the war in Afghanistan for a period of 10 years, and therefore he is ready and completely ready to ” all he should not repeat that scenario, according to Al-Deeb’s speech.
The Russian forces invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and the Red Army withdrew after a decade in 1989, having lost around 15 thousand soldiers, according to “Agence France Presse”.
Putin and other senior officials have repeatedly said that Russia’s policy on nuclear weapons is that they can be used if there is a threat to its territorial integrity, according to Reuters.
Russia possesses the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with nearly 6,000 warheads.
Russia’s military loss in the war could lead to a “political transformation” within Russia, and the penetration of “Putin’s indomitable aura and revelation that he is the architect of a failed state,” leaving his regime vulnerable to a challenge from within, and this could lead to the “collapse of the Putin regime” in the near future, according to “Foreign Affairs”.
Rashwan notes that there will be major repercussions inside and outside of Russia if Moscow loses the war in Ukraine.
Rashwan cites historical facts that followed Russia’s defeat in World War I with the outbreak of the “Bolshevik Revolution”, the collapse of the Soviet Union after the defeat in Afghanistan, and the overthrow of Nikita Khrushchev after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 took place.
He says that “Putin’s luster has dimmed during the last period, so he is trying to deceive the Russian people that there is an imminent danger to the country, to convince them of the continuation of the war.”
Losing the war would mean a lot domestically, “and the Russian Federation itself could collapse, meaning the fall of Putin’s regime,” according to Rashwan’s speech.
But Al-Deeb rules out that suggestion, believing there is no evidence of the possibility of overthrowing Putin, speaking of “Russian popular support for the president’s decisions.”
El-Deeb says, “The Russian administration continues to achieve its goals, and it cannot back down, nor can it be defeated.”