Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine a year ago. Could it end in 2023?

  • It has been 365 days since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
  • Thousands of people died, cities were destroyed, millions were displaced.
  • Experts disagree on whether we will see a ceasefire in 2023.

A year ago, the Russian-Ukrainian war took a dramatic turn.

First starting in 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a major escalation in the conflict on February 24, 2022.

It was Ukraine, justification of Kyiv and defeated by the West.

This happened against the backdrop of the desire of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to join which would put another member of the military alliance on Russia’s doorstep.

Destroyed building.

Destroyed buildings in Borodyanka, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday. Source: AAP, AP / Thibaut Camus

The full-scale invasion has been going on for 365 days. Ukraine has lost thousands of civilians and military personnel, millions of people have been displaced, and cities have been reduced to rubble.

The people of Russia have also felt the impact. Widespread sanctions mean they now live in a country ostracized by much of the Western world, and citizens face further restrictions on civil liberties.

Invasion damage

More than 8,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, the UN Human Rights Office said on Monday, although it warned that the figure was likely just the “tip of the iceberg.”

The number of dead soldiers is also difficult to ascertain. In November, top US General Mark Milley estimated that 100,000 Russian and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed or wounded. More recently, the UK Department of Defense said the figure was “probably” 200,000 on the Russian side.

The conflict has also taken the lives of millions of people in Ukraine. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that 5.9 million people are internally displaced and nearly 8 million have fled to neighboring countries. .

The movements were not obvious in Russia. But all the same, people left, although it is difficult to give an exact figure.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled the territory amid attempts by the Russian government to further restrict civil liberties, media reports said. Independent media of the countryand its citizens face criminal prosecution .

In October, some local media reported that 700,000 people had left, a figure quickly dismissed by the Kremlin.

The woman is escorted by the police.

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Moscow, February 24, 2022. Source: Getty, AFP / Alexander Nemenov

Who helps whom in the Russian-Ukrainian war?

Many Western countries supported Ukraine.

US aid is in excess of $112 billion ($164 billion) and that figure is likely to rise, President Joe Biden has said. this week that the US will “stay with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

The country is the largest supplier of military aid, including in the form of ammunition, air defense systems and armored vehicles.

The UK provided £2.3bn ($4bn) of military aid last year and has pledged to provide the same amount in 2023. It also runs Operation Interflex, a Ukrainian military training program that Australia has joined.

Since January, about 70 Australian infantrymen have been in the UK training Ukrainian recruits, many of whom have no combat experience.

The classes focused on the basics of first aid and how to keep villages and towns safe, where most of the conflict takes place.

To date, Australia has provided $655 million in support to Ukraine, including $475 million e.

In December, the US expressed concern about the deepening defense partnership between Iran and Russia. This happened after Iran in November What but insisted that they had been supplied before the invasion.

But Reuters reported in October that two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told the news agency that Iran had promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles as well as more drones.

The Russian military effort is also supported by mercenaries from although tensions between the Defense Ministry and a private military company came to light this week when its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused it of depriving its fighters of ammunition in an attempt to destroy his firm.

Then there is China, which the US believes can provide Russia with non-lethal military assistance, such as body armor or military uniforms.

Beijing has not directly denied the allegations, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying on Monday that China “is on the side of peace and dialogue” and that “the United States, not China, is throwing weapons on the battlefield.” .

Could a ceasefire be on the horizon?

There is no exact figure on how much the war is costing Russia, but an analysis by financial magazine Forbes Ukraine published last November puts the figure at $82 billion ($120 billion) in the first nine months. This was found to be about a quarter of the $340 billion ($498 billion) Russia received from revenues in 2021.

Western countries have imposed sanctions on Russia in an attempt to stifle its economy from the start with invasions targeting individuals, banks, imports and exports, and more.

In Ukraine, direct damage costs are estimated at US$100 billion (US$146 billion). the government of Ukraine, the World Bank and the European Commission. The cost of recovery and decontamination is estimated at US$350 billion ($512 billion).

“Huge” rising costs on both sides is why Jessica Genauer, senior lecturer in international studies at Flinders University, believes a “minimal scenario” such as a ceasefire could happen by the end of the year.

“[The huge costs] will not allow both sides to continue fighting forever at this pace,” said Dr. Genauer.

destroyed building

Abandoned international airport in the Ukrainian city of Kherson in February 2023. Source: Getty / Scott Peterson

Dr. Genauer said that another, less likely option that could have ended the conflict was a negotiated agreement, which would probably involve territorial claims.

But Mr. Zelensky argues that his troops will not stop fighting until all Russian troops have been expelled, including from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine failed last year, and Dr. Genauer does not believe we will see them resume because there is no trust between the two sides.

“What I think we’re most likely to see… [is a] arrangements, but I think we will most likely see this happen only when it becomes quite clear that there is a kind of enough military victory for one side compared to enough military setbacks for the other,” she said.

Matthew Sussex is Associate Professor at the Center for Strategic and Defense Studies at the Australian National University.

He said that as long as both sides have men, equipment and incentives to fight, it is unlikely that there will be a ceasefire.

“If you are Ukraine, you are fighting for national survival and this will not change. If you are Vladimir Putin, you are fighting for your political skin.”

“I think that the conflict will continue until there is a major sea change. It could be the collapse of the Ukrainian economy or the military, or if the Russian forces suffer huge setbacks or Putin is sidelined.”

Concerns about nuclear weapons and China

During the invasion, Mr. Putin hinted that Russia could use nuclear weapons if threatened.

After announcing the suspension of a bilateral nuclear arms control treaty with the United States on Tuesday, Mr. Putin said in a keynote speech Thursday that Russia would “pay increased attention” to building up its nuclear forces.

Associate Professor Sussex said the use of nuclear weapons was unlikely because it would cause serious international outrage and take China out of the game.

Wang Yi, a senior Beijing diplomat, met with Mr. Putin in the Kremlin on Wednesday, and the Russian president later signaled that Chinese President Xi Jinping would visit his country.

It comes after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Saturday that China was considering providing lethal support to Russia, that there would be “consequences,” which Beijing denies.

Both Dr. Genauer and Associate Professor Sussex believe that China is unlikely to provide such assistance to Russia.

“I expect China to try to continue the line by saying that it is a more or less neutral and balanced player while maintaining very good… relations with Russia, but without going so far as to give itself completely to Russia in terms of providing weapons, said Dr. Genauer.

– With AAP.

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