It is exactly four months today since Russia made the mindless move of invading Ukraine. The conflict, which Russian President Vladimir Putin might have thought would get over in four days, has now lasted four months. Russians have failed to achieve their objectives. With neither side capable of a decisive military breakthrough, how the war will conclude remains unclear.
On February 24, Russian forces invaded Ukraine from the north and from the east. The Russian military had certainly hoped to quickly capture the capital of Kyiv and overthrow the democratically-elected government. But after four months, it is amply clear that Russians failed in their objective as their forces had to retreat from the outskirts of Kyiv at the end of March. In May, Russian forces decided to attack Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. But they were pushed back again.
The Russian military finally secured control over Mariupol in mid-May, when the last Ukrainian forces surrendered after a valiant resistance. Following their retreat from Kyiv and northern Ukraine, Russian forces have focused on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Though they have made some progress, it has come at a heavy price.
Russian army is struggling. Exhausted by heavy casualties, high equipment losses and poor morale, it is going to be a herculean task for Russian President Vladimir Putin to keep pressing his Army for this endless war. Ukraine appears to have already won the mind battle. No one ever thought that the second largest army will be kept at bay for four months by a country as small as Ukraine.
The Kremlin has now focused on taking full control of the Donbas, a far cry from what Putin would have wanted at the start of the invasion. But even that does not seem fructifying considering the continuous resistance from the Ukrainians. Ukrainian forces, bolstered by a growing flow of weapons from the West, have carried out successful counterattacks. A lot of conventional military strategies and warfare like utility of battle tanks in war, is now being questioned after setbacks suffered by Russia. One doesn’t see the Ukraine forces giving up easily now that they have inflicted substantial damage on Russians. For Putin, it has become an issue of self prestige and hence he will also not pull back easily.
This means that a military stalemate could perhaps drag on for many months. The more this war drags on, Russia’s position as a major military force will continue to get eroded. People of Russia are now protesting and demanding to know the whereabouts of their missing soldiers. One may even see a coup happening in Russia, if Putin does not end this conflict now.
A negotiated settlement is the only way out now to end this mindless war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared ready for compromise in March. He offered to suspend Kyiv’s ambitions of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). But Putin’s ego didn’t let him go for the settlement. Outrage at Russian war crimes is fuelling public anger against Russia across the world. Putin has to realise that it is in best interests of Russia, himself and the world as such if the war ends soon. The biggest impact caused by this useless conflict was the spike in fuel prices leading to massive inflation and food shortage, primarily supply of wheat.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, now in its fourth month, is preventing grain from leaving the "breadbasket of the world" and making food more expensive across the globe. This is triggering hunger and political instability in developing countries. Personal ambitions can’t be allowed to cause hardships to millions of people for no fault of theirs.