There is more to do for Ukraine – Washington Post

On February 24, 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a swift and robust response from the United States and its European allies, who imposed economic sanctions on Russia and equipped Ukraine with the necessary arms for an enduring defense against the invasion, as the Washington Post wrote in their article.

Initially underestimated, Ukraine’s defenses significantly outperformed expectations, effectively pushing back Russian forces and reclaiming lost territories. 

This unexpected resilience led to an influx of advanced weaponry from a U.S.-led coalition supporting Kyiv, fostering hopes for a decisive Ukrainian victory.

Ukraine war and Putin’s economic partners

However, the landscape shifted as Ukraine’s counteroffensive stalled last year, revealing Russia’s capacity to withstand economic and military pressures. In the face of these challenges, president Vladimir Putin has geared up for a protracted conflict, while Ukraine grapples with the repercussions of a six-month hiatus in U.S. arms deliveries, calling for a reassessment of support strategies from Western allies.

Putin’s meeting with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, in Beijing, where they celebrated a significant boost in Russian-Chinese bilateral trade since the onset of the conflict, marked his recent show of resilience.

This partnership has been crucial, with China providing essential war supplies such as machine tools, microelectronics, and optics and purchasing Russian oil in substantial volumes. 

Putin’s wartime support network also includes North Korea and Iran, supplying missiles, ammunition, and drones, respectively, intensifying the onslaught on Ukrainian cities.

Russian offensive near Kharkiv 

Further demonstrating Russian military capability, a recent northern offensive near Kharkiv took Ukrainian forces by surprise. US Congress recently passed a substantial $61 billion aid package that included long-range missiles from the United States, which appeared to be the purpose of this maneuver to weaken Ukrainian defenses.

The aggressive push in Kharkiv and the loss of strategic locations like Avdiivka signal a rejuvenation of Russian military efforts.

Domestically, Putin has effectively quashed any internal opposition, such as dissent from the Wagner Group and its leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin, and silenced civil anti-war protests, imposing stringent information controls to consolidate his authoritarian regime.

Russia’s threat of using nuclear weapons

Russia also staged a military exercise simulating the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, a direct response to Western threats of escalating military support for Ukraine. This exercise followed ambiguous threats by Putin to use nuclear capabilities, heightening tensions and illustrating the Kremlin’s readiness to escalate its military responses.

Despite these daunting developments, not all is well for Putin. The number of Russian military casualties is on the rise, with daily losses nearing 900.

Additionally, Russia’s strategic economic sectors, such as natural gas, have suffered greatly, with Gazprom reporting a substantial loss due to reduced exports to the European Union, which has successfully diversified its energy sources in response to the conflict.

Sanctions’ pressure on Russia’s economy

While Western sanctions have not crippled the Russian economy, more stringent measures are urgently needed. 

Recommendations from a Stanford University working group include enhanced sanctions targeting Russian oil, gas, and metals, along with stricter enforcement and innovative strategies to use frozen Russian assets to bolster Ukraine’s defense.

This protracted conflict has evolved into a war of endurance and intellect, where support for Ukraine is not just necessary but crucial for maintaining regional stability and countering authoritarian aggression. 

The international community, particularly the United States and Europe, must intensify their support and adapt their strategies to ensure Ukraine can sustain its defense and eventually secure a victory. 

This support is imperative not only for Ukraine’s sovereignty but also for the preservation of international norms against unprovoked aggression.

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