A counteroffensive against Russian occupation in Ukraine is coming soon; that's what President Zelensky, his generals, soldiers on the battlefield, the US government, and other western allies are saying constantly. This military operation is often described as the "decisive move to expel the Russians from occupied territories, a series of battles that will define the course of international relations for the rest of the 21st century".
The reasoning goes like this: if Ukraine doesn't manage to claim victory against Russia with this counteroffensive, it is very likely that an international consensus will establish that "Ukraine cannot win this war unless NATO steps in". As part of the current strategy of helping Kiev not to be defeated by Russia, Nato has recently delivered to the Ukrainian army 1,550 armored vehicles and 230 tanks, along with large amounts of ammunition and training on how to use western weapons.
A preview of the counteroffensive may have already started last werk with the Ukrainian bombings with drones of oil depots located in Crimea to cut Russian supplies to the front in the south. Also, yesterday Russia formally accused Ukraine of trying to kill President Putin with two drones that were shot down just before impacting the Kremlin two days ago.
Russian officials branded the government of Zelensky as a "terrorist organization that should be eliminated immediately". However, some analysts point out that it is unlikely that those drones were launched by the Ukrainian army as their potential for causing real harm was almost zero due to the low amount of explosives they carried and the distance between the border and Moscow. Instead, one explanation being proposed is that Russia set up this 'fake attack', to justify an increase in the violence of the operations in Ukraine.
It is also true that the authors of the failed attack on the Kremlin could have been "Russian or Ukrainian rebel groups located inside Russia that want to get rid of Putin by themleves". These kinds of groups have already been responsible for similar operations in the last year, like seizing by force some regions in western Russia and performing sabotage operations on military infrastructure.
But so far, the official policy of Ukraine and western countries is that there should be no attacks on official Russian territory, nor should there be any mention of the idea that NATO should send troops to the battlefield, as this will transform a regional conflict into a world war.
Knowing the plans of this counteroffensive, Russia has been preparing vast trench defense networks, as the ones observed during WW1 that made it very difficult to achieve territorial gains and stagnated the conflict during four years. Additionally, Putin has fired many of his generals lately, accusing them of mismanaging the logistics of supplies towards the front. As part of these reported problems, the leader of the Russian paramilitary Wagner group, that fights in Ukraine along the regular Russian army, has warned that his fighters are so low on ammunition that they may have to withdraw from Bakhmut, the most disputed site so far in the war.
In this reality, Zelensky and Biden have stated clearly that the only victory considered as acceptable would be one in which:
• Russia retreats from Ukrainian territories defined by 1991 borders. That includes all the eastern regions annexed by Putin in 2022 and Crimea, where Russia had been renting a military base with around 25, 000 soldiers prior to its annexation in 2014.
• Ukraine should have security guarantees that Russia will be prevented from attacking again by signing a military pact with western countries, and maybe joining NATO.
• War reparations should be founded by seizing Russian assets.
• Trials for war crimes against Putin's government must be conducted at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Netherlands.
Failing to achieve these goals would mean that autocratic powers, like China, could feel entitled to pursue their own expansionist policies and launch wars in the near future, like in Taiwan.
In that context, French President Macron traveled to China last month to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping to discuss peace plans for Ukraine and 'prepare the ground' for a situation in case the Ukrainian counteroffensive would fail. This is part of the French foreign policy tradition to pursue its own global interests with some distance from anglosaxon powers, as france "should always maintain autonomy on its military strategies".
As expected, the visit angered US, UK and some EU political elites, because Macron also said that "Europeans should not get caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents Europe from building its strategic autonomy. The EU should not be a follower of the US, and that includes a potential war regarding Taiwan"
This was a big concession from Macron to Xi, as China could very likely invade the island in the medium term. In exchange, Macron got from China the promise of being more involved in peace construction plans for Ukraine, and Xi calling President Zelensky for the first time since the full-scale invasion started in February 2022. Macron defends that this tactic operates on behalf of all the allies of Ukraine, and that he also wishes "a total victory against Putin".
Indeed, if the Ukrainian military operation is successful, it will allow the western world to hold a very strong position defending liberal democracy, its economic interests, and world hegemony. The context of this policy is framed by the fact that growing competitors from the east (China and India mainly) and the "global south" (former European colonies in Africa, Asia and Latinamerica) wish to achieve a more multipolar world.
But, as documents leaked last month from the Pentagon have shown, the Ukrainian and Russian armies are poised to be stagnated in long fights if the trend continues with the supply of weapons and soldiers to the battlefield. So the big question is: which side will get more tired of this war first? This answer is still unknown.
Link of video showing a drone attack towards the Kremlin:
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