Putin’s Christmas*

 

 

 


The war is approaching its second year at the worst moment for Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

President Vladimir Putin met with 600 journalists last Thursday in a convention center next to the Kremlin and spent four hours responding to questions from those present and from citizens selected by the government to record video messages.

The scene could not have been more of a contrast with last year when that traditional event was not held as Russia ended the year having faced an offensive against its invading forces in the north of Ukraine, a country it had failed to conquer in February.

Subsequent Western support for Kyiv with arms, money and sanctions was never intended to completely defeat Russia. In a calculated way, the idea was to progressively wear Putin down, rooting for a regime change in Moscow which never came.

A year later, having survived a serious mutiny, Putin jokes in poor taste about the high price of eggs in his country and again displays his usual bravado saying there will only be peace in Ukraine if Kyiv accepts demilitarization and renounces its hope of becoming a country in what he characterizes as the Western war club NATO.

The Russian president is not close to being able to dictate terms, but he enjoys a largely comfortable position in contrast to his rival Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian president bet everything on a counteroffensive backed by new Western weapons and training. Ukraine launched the counteroffensive in June, but failed achieve its objecting of severing the land link between Russia and Crimea, annexed in 2014, via the occupied areas in the south and east of the country.

The blame game has already started, with public disagreements between Zelenskyy and his generals; however, the substratum that matters is the growing shakiness of support from the West.

One of the reasons for the uncertain support is the cost. Through October, it is estimated that the U.S. support to the country at war both for defense as well as offense came to $1.2 billion — a bit less than the 2022 Ukrainian gross domestic product.

Joe Biden, Ukraine’s major supporter, faces a Republican opposition with its eye on the White House and that has so far has blocked an aid package of about $50 billion for Zelenskyy in the coming year.

The argument for the Republican veto, othersie political, is the lack of return on investment. The Ukrainian president even came to Washington begging for aid, albeit unsuccessfully so far. Biden said the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine, but noted that funding will soon run out.

Adding to this is the bad mood in Europe, personified by Hungary’s resistance to freeing up a package of military aid to Kyiv within the framework of the European Union, and the election of governments hostile to military support in Slovakia and the Netherlands.

The war will reach two years in February, and Biden seems correct in predicting that the congressional veto will give Putin the greatest Christmas present he could ever ask for.

*Editor’s Note: This article is available in its original language with a paid subscription.

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About Jane Dorwart 203 Articles
BA Anthroplogy. BS Musical Composition, Diploma in Computor Programming. and Portuguese Translator.

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