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One hundred days on, Ukraine quagmire finds no way out

BY: KS Rajagopal

One hundred days have passed since the Russian aggression against Ukraine began and there is no let-up in the battle yet. The battle front gets hardened with the Ukrainian defence receiving sophisticated weapons and advanced anti-tank and aircraft missiles from the US.

Moscow claims though slow, it has made progress in neutralizing areas controlled by far right nationalist forces while Ukraine claims its resistance forces have so far succeeded in repulsing Russian invaders and recaptured towns and villages. Now it is highly unlikely for any independent agency to verify their claims in this context.

It is believed that as long as the uninterrupted supplies from outside continue, the resistance is unlikely to slow down and to a large extent could be able to push Russian intruders to the corner. Ukrainians may be battle ready but its military resources are nothing as compared to Russia which has the largest arsenal in the world and the experience in running long, exhaustive battles.

Extensive civilian and soldier casualties apart, the devastation the Russian assaults have created across Ukraine is immeasurable and the country may take considerable time to come back from the ruins but it is no longer a big concern right now as many countries have promised their support to Ukraine to get rebuilt in a very short time. And Ukraine seems to believe the concept that those who surrender in a war will not rise again.

The most intriguing thing is the kind of resistance put up by Ukrainians to a far superior Russian forces which at many points got stuck not being able to move forward. In reality, Russian forces with all the might have abandoned their plans on occasions only to retreat or delay further attacks before fierce resistance. Russia’s failed attempt to seize the capital Kyiv shows how fortified the capital city is. Frustrated and with a heavy loss in rank and file, Russian troops ravaged the suburbs of Kyiv, killing civilians in hundreds, including women and children.

What is baffling is that Ukrainian resistance has no pattern or uniformity. Since there has not been an air defence and naval support, Ukraine solely relies on ground forces that comprise seasoned soldiers, veterans from within the country and outside and volunteers, including women. The whole arrangement looks like guerrilla groups operating under separate commands. It can be assumed that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is unlikely to have control over the entire resistance forces. No matter what Kyiv decides, the battle would continue and capturing and recapturing of cities and villages will be ongoing.

For instance, while the resistance forces succeeded in stopping the advancing Russian troops to Kyiv, the Azov Regiment in the east failed to protect the port city of Mariupol and surrendered to the Russians after days of intense fighting. The Azov Regiment has accused the Kyiv government of not helping them enough to defend Mariupol. It also said Kyiv was celebrating the safe release of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant while hundreds of civilians were killed in Russian assaults on the south-eastern port city. An officer of the regiment complained that ‘authorities have been sabotaging the defence of Ukraine for eight years’. The Azov Regiment that has far-right origins was incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces in 2014 and is considered one of the best-trained parts of the military.

In all probability, Russia will stay put in the country for a long time until it bleeds on its own like what they had suffered in Afghanistan. Even if he wants, President Zelenskyy wouldn’t be in a powerful position to bring the resistance to a halt any time from now because it looks resistance groups are operating on their own in East, South East, West and North regions of Ukraine. It has the potential to turn out to be a full fledged insurgency sooner than later.

Financed and armed by the world nations, these resistance groups will have a sway throughout the country and could engage in guerrilla warfare against the Russia controlled regions. Already some of the major towns, strategically important port cities and industrial areas are under control of either Russia or Russia supported separatists.

According to political analysts, Zelenskyy so far has acted as head of various camps to present their case before the world and soon his role will diminish in a long-drawn insurgency against Russia or he could be captured by the enemy. One theory suggests Zelenskyy will flee the country and head the government in exile.

Russia in the beginning of the ‘invasion’ of Ukraine described it as ‘special operation’. What they meant was an operation like that of the US in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The US called it sometimes ‘war on terror’, ‘war against genocide’ or ‘war against Communists’. The unforgiving factor of these military campaigns is total destruction of the country beyond recognition causing exodus of refugees. Now it’s the turn of Ukraine.

Ukraine will not be a quiet Ukraine again and Zelenskyy cannot be its cool president again. Suppose, this is a hypothesis but which other way can we describe the quagmire called Ukraine?

BY: KS Rajagopal


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