The $61B question: Will Ukraine's resilience and diplomacy pass the crucial test? - M5 Dergi
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The $61B question: Will Ukraine’s resilience and diplomacy pass the crucial test?

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Regardless of the election result, Zelenskyy must acknowledge that Ukraine is not as high a priority for American policymakers as Israel, meaning Ukrainians may shoulder the bulk of tensions with Russia on their own

The American Congress extended a crucial lifeline to Ukraine, which has weathered 6 months of hardship, through the passage of a new aid bill totaling $61 billion.

Boosted by both financial and psychological aspects of this aid package, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hold on power can continue with greater assurance. While the substantial aid sum is not a surprise per se, it stands as a testament to the persistent diplomatic endeavors spanning months.

Yet, Zelenskyy should not rely solely on this support. Instead, he should proceed cautiously, aiming for wins at the negotiation table if the advances seen in Kherson cannot be duplicated in other occupied areas. It is crucial to understand that success in talks often means preventing further losses rather than just securing gains.

The Istanbul talks proved immensely significant in addressing a pressing global crisis that claimed tens of thousands of lives and left millions at risk of starvation. What made them particularly valuable was the participation of both warring factions, earnestly seeking resolution through the mediation of a nation not aligned with either side.

However, as the second year of the war nears its end, the peace conference announced through the joint efforts of Ukraine and Switzerland appears poised to fall short of the impact achieved by the Istanbul talks. The forthcoming high-level peace summit, intended to bolster international pressure, is expected to convene in mid-June in a format that excludes Russia.

A “peace conference” devoid of Russian participation, one of the key protagonists in the conflict, a nation that has systematically occupied Ukrainian territory since 2014, is bound to prove futile. Without Russia’s involvement, particularly given its massive military presence on the ground, any peace process is likely to remain elusive.

Has Israel eclipsed Ukraine?

The resolution of the war depends on the outcome of the United States presidential elections in November. While Zelenskyy hopes to work closely with the next president, a re-elected Donald Trump could prompt Ukraine to start peace talks with Russia sooner. The likelihood of US President Joe Biden winning remains uncertain. Regardless of the election result, Zelenskyy must acknowledge that Ukraine is not as high a priority for American policymakers as Israel, meaning Ukrainians may shoulder the bulk of tensions with Russia on their own.

Regardless of the electoral outcome, this war will end eventually. Yet, until that moment arrives, Ukraine is unlikely to experience any territorial gains, particularly amidst the opening of multiple defense lines along its borders.

The Russia-Ukraine war has predominantly been characterized by artillery exchanges, with recent ammunition shortages leading to Ukraine’s retreat from the town of Avdiivka. Following the cessation of US aid in recent months, Ukraine’s artillery disadvantage has worsened from five-to-one to ten-to-one.

The US aims to boost the production of 155 mm artillery shells by 300% to 1.2 million annually, yet even this target falls significantly short of Russia’s staggering 3 million annual productions as Russia shifts towards a war economy.

As the struggle for air dominance persists, Ukraine faces significant challenges in acquiring air defense systems due to their high costs. Deploying systems that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to counter kamikaze drones, which are far cheaper, proves financially unsustainable. Additionally, the Western reluctance to share Patriot defense systems further complicates Ukraine’s defense efforts.

Moreover, enhanced range ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) alone cannot force Russia to withdraw from the occupied territories. While these missiles, with their precise 300-kilometer range, are a nuisance, their impact is limited. These systems are effective in neutralizing Russia’s Black Sea fleet and targeting military and logistics bases within Russian cities. Their purpose is to prevent future offensives rather than reclaiming occupied territories. However, they have minimal impact on the current frontline dynamics.

To alter the current landscape, a concerted offensive akin to the one witnessed in Kherson is necessary to expel foreign elements from the occupied territories. However, the physical terrain and the evolving capabilities of the Russian army pose formidable challenges.

Though the $61 billion aid package provides a much-needed boost to Ukraine’s war effort, its delayed arrival and limited scope raise doubts about its sufficiency. Despite Ukraine’s steadfast efforts and limited territorial losses in the past 6 months, resource strains and troop casualties signal a shifting tide against Ukraine.

How likely is peace negotiation in near future?

As the war persists, the toll mounts for both nations, yet the de facto situation on the ground remains unaltered. This prompts a crucial question: Will there be any notable disparity in terms of conditions and outcomes between the peace talks in Istanbul and future negotiations?

If such a discrepancy exists, it would make sense for Ukraine to assert its grievances through the battlefield. Conversely, if such a divergence is minimal, what rationale justifies the loss of tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers on the frontlines and the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in urban areas over the past 2 years?

In recent weeks, Zelenskyy has emphasized the importance of Türkiye’s efforts but has deemed them insufficient. His expectation of an alternative solution, such as a peace conference in Switzerland without Russian involvement, seems singularly naive and borderline suicidal.

The warning signs are evident for Zelenskyy, and placing hope in the upcoming Switzerland conference is a misstep for the Ukrainian leadership. Having missed an opportunity 2 years ago, time is not on their side. The wise approach is to acknowledge the impending reality and avoid further loss of life in a battle where changing the outcome is unlikely.

Source: AA

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