Putin’s plot to ‘stall’ Ukraine peace talks reveals Elisabeth Braw
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, thousands of civilians and servicemen have died, millions of people have been displaced, and cities have been destroyed. One month after President Putin launched the biggest offensive in Europe since World War Two, David Patrikarako, journalist and author of War in 140 characters: how social media is reshaping conflict in the 21st century, argued peace talks are bound to go nowhere.
He said: “I honestly can’t remember the number of times I’ve written about Russian peace talks. I could try to look it up, but I suspect it would only depress me.”
Mr Patrikarako’s take comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for global protests to demand an end to Russia’s attacks on his country on Wednesday, March 23.
Addressing viewers in English, he said: “Come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities, come in the name of peace.
“Come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life. Say that people matter. Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters.”
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President Putin does ‘not want a way out’ of war, author David Patrikarako says
Western leaders are gathering in Brussels on Thursday, March 24, at a NATO summit where they are expected to agree on overhauling the eastern defences of the US-led military alliance.
Ahead of the summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg labelled Putin’s war a miscalculated move that did not take into account the resistance Ukrainians would show.
He said: “President Putin has made a big mistake and that is to launch a war against an independent sovereign nation. He has underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people, the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their armed forces.”
The NATO chief added leaders would “address the need for a reset of our deterrence and defence in the longer term” – starting with agreeing on new deployments to eastern members Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria.
Russia’s struggles in Ukraine are becoming increasingly evident
The alliance’s commitment to ramp up support for Mr Zelensky’s men comes amid increasingly obvious struggles on the Kremlin’s side, as the path to victory is proving tougher than Putin’s team had seemingly expected.
On Wednesday, NATO estimated 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in the four weeks of war.
For comparison, Russia lost about 15,000 soldiers over 10 years in Afghanistan.
The figures, a senior NATO military official speaking on condition of anonymity said, are based on information from Ukrainian authorities, Russian information — released intentionally or not — and intelligence collected from open sources.
As per Ukraine’s General Staff of Armed Forces, Russia has also lost 530 tanks, 1,597 armoured vehicles, 108 planes, 124 helicopters and 50 drones.
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Destruction in Kyiv during Europe’s biggest offensive since World War Two
According to Mr Patrikarako, the fact “the war is going badly for Moscow” is hard to ignore.
He wrote in a piece on UnHerd: “Wherever I look I see talk of Russian overreach, of Russian losses and Ukrainian successes.”
However, he does not see that as a driver for it to end, adding: “Do this and there is a way out. What bothers me is that Moscow doesn’t want one.”
Speaking of a potential stalemate, the author said the prospect of it “worries” him.
He said: “We need to understand that this is not a 21st-century but a 20th-century conflict.
“What was World War I if not years of stalemate punctuated by periods of intense, incontinent violence? Stalemates can last a long time and claim the lives of millions.”
And the Kremlin is aware of this, Mr Patrikarako thinks, adding that Moscow usually “rearms, regroups and betters its chances” during what it calls peace talks.
He said: “I think it’s negotiating in bad faith once again. It can afford to have its conscripts chewed up in Ukraine.”
At the time of his start assessment, Putin’s forces considerably stepped up its air attacks, with more than 250 flights registered in 24 hours, the Ukrainian military’s general staff has said.
According to the authorities, that is 60 more flights than the day before – with the surrounding areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv the main targets.