Russia is ensuring that it meets every single objective of the ongoing war in Ukraine to ensure a decisive victory. First, it secured the surrender of Mariupol by Ukraine and now it is cutting Ukraine from the Black Sea by moving its troops towards Transnistria.
The Ukraine war is ending in a somewhat disappointingly bland manner. The US and the West had been driving a loud narrative by publishing conspiracy theories about glorious Ukrainian resistance against Moscow. And now, Ukraine has surrendered one of the key objectives of the ongoing war i.e the city of Mariupol. So, what is the consequence of this surrender and how will it alter the course of the war? Let’s find out.
Mariupol- Ukraine’s last remaining soldiers are surrendering
771 of Ukraine’s Azovstal fighters at a giant steel mill in Mariupol have surrendered in the past 24 hours, Russia said Wednesday, bringing the total who have laid down arms since Monday to more than 1,700. As a top Ukrainian military official hoped they could be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war, its military said on Tuesday that it aimed to evacuate its remaining soldiers from their last stronghold in Mariupol. But Russia want some member of Ukrain’s prisoners of war to be labled as ‘terrorist‘.
It added, “The supreme military command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel … Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky too said, “We hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys.” He added, “There are severely wounded ones among them. They’re receiving care. Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive.”
Mariupol is a part of the industrial region in Eastern Ukraine called Donbas. The region was seen as a key Russian geopolitical objective given the presence of pro-Russia separatists in Donbas.
What does the surrender mean for Russia?
There is a reason why Ukraine’s surrender is being described as a turning point in the ongoing war. Now, capturing the city allows Putin’s Russia to create a land route that connects Russia’s boundary to the Crimean Peninsula. It also deprives Ukraine of a major port and prized industrial assets.
More importantly, Russia will now be able to free troops engaged in Mariupol that can now be used for carrying out operations elsewhere in Donbas. This is why the Russians to are in a celebratory mood. Putin has congratulated the Russian military and has said that “putting such an important center in the south as Mariupol under control is a success.” Moreover, capturing Mariupol gives Moscow total control of the Sea of the coast of Sea of Azov, and a large chunk of Ukrainian territory equal to the size of Greece.
What will Russia do now?
As for Russia, the next military objective will be to seize full control of Donbas and rid Luhansk and Donetsk of Ukraine’s sovereignty. All eyes will now be on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s last stand in its eastern territory that has come under a heavy Russian military assault. Once the city falls, it would mean de facto control of Luhansk for Moscow.
Ukraine has been trying to put up a brave fight but with more Russian troops and assets likely to pummel Kharkiv, it is a question of when and not if. Kharkiv will fall sooner or later and that will mean the end of the Ukraine war, at least as far as eastern Ukraine or Donbas is concerned.
The bigger game
Ukraine is a part of Russia’s larger geopolitical goals. It isn’t the ultimate goal in itself. Try to figure out what exactly Russia has achieved by literally running over Ukraine. It has proved that the Western world or NATO is more or less irrelevant and incapable.
It isn’t as if Russia ran through Ukraine in one swift stroke. Putin’s forces kept cutting through Ukraine and ultimately managed to overpower it. It was slow and steady progress. Meanwhile, the US and the EU never went above propaganda. They just kept talking about phasing out Russian gas and helping Ukraine while Russia went about its campaign in a rather indifferent manner.
Mariupol’s surrender is thus a big defeat for Ukraine but a bigger one for NATO.
Russia moving its troops towards Transnistria
what is this Transnistria region? How is it affecting the Ukraine war? And how will Russia turn the tide of the war against Ukraine by securing access to the strategically located region? Let’s find out. Transnistria is a breakaway province sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova. It works as more of a territorial asset for Moscow being located in between two ex-Soviet States.
Transnistria is recognized internationally as a part of Moldova but is practically a self-ruled territory. It has its own flag, prints its own currency, and sings its own National Anthem. Transnistria has a majority of Russian-speaking people and has had close ties with Moscow since the Second World War. Today, Russia enjoys deep influence within the region. Transnistria gets billions of dollars in subsidies from its benefactors in Moscow. In return, Russia gets a strategic piece of friendly territory at the edge of the European Union. Moscow has at least 1,500 of its troops deployed in Transnistria which can help it open up a new front against Ukraine.
Access to Transnistria- the next possible goal for Putin’s Russia
Recently, a round of mysterious bombings and explosions have been reported in Transnistria. The breakaway region has disclosed that administrative buildings such as its state security headquarters have come under attack. Two radio towers and a military unit too are said to have been hit by the attacks. Transnistrian Foreign Minister Vitaly Ignatiev told Interfax, “According to preliminary data, the traces of those who organized the attacks are leading to Ukraine.”
On the other hand, Kyiv says it has nothing to do with the mysterious bombings. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of committing false flag attacks and using the bombings as a pretext for attacking Moldova. Meanwhile, the Russian media is blaming Ukraine for the recent bombings.
Be that as it may, we know for sure that Russia wants to create a land route cutting through Ukraine that would connect the Russian mainland to Transnistria. A senior Russian commander, Major General Rustam Minnekayev, had said in April that Moscow’s objective was to take full control of southern Ukraine and the eastern Donbas region that would give Moscow unhindered access to Crimea and Transnistria.
Reducing Ukraine into a landlocked country
Now, if Russia actually ends up creating a land route, running through Southern Ukraine, it would mean that Kyiv will be practically cut off from the Black Sea and all its major ports. Russia would then start administering Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.
And the Ukrainian ports were amongst the major geopolitical goals for which Putin launched the ongoing military operations. So, Russia could effectively reduce Ukraine into a landlocked country.
Secondly, Russia wants to use the Transnistria ploy to divert and stretch Ukrainian troops. Presently, Russia has managed to take Mariupol and mount overwhelming pressure on Ukrainian troops in the Donbas region. However, Ukraine is still putting up a tough fight in Kharkiv. In fact, Kharkiv is being seen as Ukraine’s last stand.
Now, if Ukraine suddenly has the challenge to prevent itself from becoming a landlocked nation, it will have to divert some of its manpower away from Kharkiv. Eventually, Kharkiv too will fall due to depleted strength and this is what makes Russia’s Transnistria push a new turning point in the war.
France and the US suggest that Russia has won the War
Anyone with a sane mind in geopolitics could gauge the fact that Ukraine is no match for Russia. Even a comedian in Zelensky got it way back in February, but he has been taken for a delusionary ride by the power circles of Europe and the West. During the start of the war, Ukraine had its fair share of frustrations seeing how hordes of Russian forces flooded their borders gifting mayhem to the strategically important cities.
But the pugnacious mindset of Ukraine got rekindled when the West along with Europe came in support with angry rhetoric to tackle the beast in Russia. Sanctions came in torrents with Europe following a persuading campaign to rope neutral countries to go against Russia.
“Ukraine needs our help to win today. And they will still need our help when the war is over.” Remarked Austin in full glow. Austin couldn’t stop eulogizing Ukraine enough and went afar in stating that “This war will go down in military history and It is Ukraine that’s going to triumph.”
Equally committed to Ukraine was Emmanuel macron. The French president recently scripted a stupendous victory to return to power after fending off a historic fight from the right-wing candidate. Surveys glared to the fact that French citizens loathed his globalization attempt but Macron made the most of the Ukraine war in poising himself as the undisputed leader in Europe post the Ukraine war era.
Even though his mediator role with Putin couldn’t replicate the success he had in the French elections, Macron stood as an important voice in supporting Ukraine through and through. He also spouted his share of angry chants that said Russia will be humiliated in from of the world after the Ukraine war.
Praises in excess from world powers made Ukraine see things through a myopic lens. Zelensky thought that Ukraine is indeed clinching victory. Even though witnessing destruction and maelstrom it never happened for Kyiv to alter decisions and comply with the Russian demands. Zelensky was simply riding the west narrative that never intended to meet the reality.
Beast is tough to tame
But, roughly three months into the conflict it appears that Russia is not losing, but they are marauding through the Ukraine spaces with slow and steady progress. Of course, Russia remains confident enough of tasting success in their “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, the dark dawn has fallen upon Ukraine. The west no more believes any magic druid can save Ukraine. The long-held rhetoric and the passionate interest in down Russia are slowly fading away. At the latest, Defence secretary Llyod Austin has called his Russian counterparts to demand an immediate ceasefire. From the words of the US defense secretary, it’s convincing enough that the “triumph of Ukraine” has taken a big fall.
Macron on his part is encouraging Ukraine to concede some of its territories to prevent further Russian offensives. From Macron’s words, it’s clear that the opportunity to “humiliate” Russia may not happen anytime soon.
Fretting over the chances of Russia winning the war, European countries by large seems reluctant to show their support for Ukraine. It was well evident in the recent Eurovision song contest. As the operation inches towards Kyiv’s total defeat, the west and Europe look to back away from its support, and for Ukraine, it’s better to beg before the beast they once tried to tame.
After losing the war and face in Ukraine, the EU attempts another pointless maneuver
The European Union has come out with a new proposal- a 9 billion euro ($9.5 billion) loan to Ukraine in order to keep the war-torn country that has been ravaged by Russian forces. This will apparently help post-war reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.
However, the EU loan program is dead on arrival. Ukraine has already lost the war, which is now its last phase with Russian forces coming really close to achieving their main objectives. So, what will Ukraine do with European money when it would already have been forced to make territorial concessions.
So, what does a loan by the EU mean? Make no mistake, it is not even an aid funding but a loan that the EU wants to give to Ukraine. So, the EU could as well be financially obligating Ukraine in the name of sponsoring reconstruction efforts.
EU’s short-term relief proposal
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “We are proposing to top up the significant short-term relief provided until now, with a new exceptional macro-financial assistance for Ukraine of up to 9 billion euros in 2022.”
She added, “But we also need to think about the day after for the wider reconstruction effort. The EU would and should not be the only one contributing to this effort.”
The Commission President also said, “That is why we propose a reconstruction platform as part of this plan jointly led by Ukraine and the Commission and bringing together the EU Member States, other bilateral or international donors, international financial institutions, and other like-minded partners.”
Make no mistake, the entire Western world, and the EU in particular has been facing a lot of backlash since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war. It has been criticized for its indecisiveness during the war and for its reluctance in doing more for Ukraine.
Shortly after the war broke out, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned European Union member states for refusing Ukraine’s application to join the bloc.
He had said, “The European Union must do more.” Zelensky had added, “It must do more for us, for Ukraine. And for itself.”
Ukraine had applied for EU membership immediately after an invasion into the country was launched by Russia. The EU had ample time to take a call on fast-tracking Ukraine’s application or at least giving an assurance that it will ultimately be made an EU member.
In fact, Ukraine was even given the advice to give up on EU membership and wait for a new, wider bloc to be formed for EU integration.
And then, EU countries are the ones effectively financing Russia’s war in Ukraine. Despite the invasion, they keep on buying Russian oil and gas, effectively ensuring that Moscow never gets burdened under the pressure of tough sanctions.
So, the EU now wants to somehow retain its influence in Ukraine. This is why it is telling Zelensky that see we are ready to throw in a few billion dollars, which can help build back Ukraine after the devastating war.
On its part, the EU understands that the Ukrainian economy has been wrecked totally by the ongoing war. So, it can buy Kyiv’s loyalty by sending in a few billion dollars at a time when no one else would want to help Ukraine.
Too little, too late
Now, the EU may think that they can throw a few billion dollars at Ukraine and get away with its gross indifference towards Kyiv’s plight. But that’s not happening.
It is quite discernible that the EU’s efforts have arrived way too late. And they don’t really make a difference. Ukraine has already lost a key city like Mariupol. Meanwhile, Russia is also preparing a grand offensive to create a land route cutting through Ukraine to connect the Russian mainland and the strategically located enclave of Transnistria. The move will limit Ukraine to a land-locked country.
Ukraine is bound to face some major cartographic changes and it will also be forced to make territorial concessions. EU is thus making a pointless maneuver even as Ukraine prepares for a comprehensive defeat in the ongoing war.