We are witnessing the first real Ukrainian attack, as Jan Ludvik of the Department of Security Studies at Charles University’s School of Social Sciences assesses: “So far, Russia has changed forces, then begun to withdraw, with the Ukrainians in their wake. But this time, the Ukrainians have managed to push the forces out. The Russians for the first time have proven that they are capable of conducting joint maneuvering operations. The Russians certainly left a lot of technology behind.”




Prague

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Ukrainian soldiers in a military vehicle on their way to the front line during a fight near the city of Izyumo in the Kharkiv region | Photo: Jorge Silva | Source: Reuters

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced that in September, Ukraine regained more than 6,000 square kilometers in the east of the country. According to the BBC, Russia has admitted the loss of major cities in the north-east of the Kharkiv region.

Guest: Analyst Jan Ludvik from the Department of Security Studies, School of Social Sciences, Charles University. Hosted by Zeta Senkova

Ludwig explains this with three factors. First, the Ukrainian forces are more motivated and in better morale in the long run.

“There are men mobilized in the ranks of Russia from Donetsk and Luhansk who are basically forced into the army and may not fight fully with enthusiasm. Even members of the Russian army do not necessarily see much meaning in what they do. We know that support for the war is relatively high in Russia, but they agree with it more of their willingness to sacrifice their lives for it.”


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Russia also has a big problem getting more troops. The Ukrainians may outnumber the Russians by two to one. Although Russia still has more technology at its disposal,” according to the analyst.

Ludvik considers that the third reason for the success of the Ukrainian offensive is that the Ukrainians are fighting on the line of internal communication:

“If we imagine that in the Czech Republic, if the Czech Republic defends itself against attacks in the direction of Liberec and Budejovice, it can move through Prague. But the attacking enemy has to rally around it.

So, while Ukrainians can go from Kherson to Kharkov in a couple of days, it will take Russia a week. “There are much fewer Russians,” the analyst adds, adding that the Kremlin will now have to create a new line of defense and think about what to do next.

There must be an agreement

The war must end with an agreement, otherwise conflicts will continue, as the analyst Ludvik warns: “It is hard to imagine that the Ukrainians would end the war with a complete surrender and march towards Moscow. So there must be an unwritten agreement that both sides will accept that the war will end with a Ukrainian victory.”


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According to Ludvik, the Kremlin may also decide to withdraw outside its international borders and gain strength for some time. “This will freeze the conflict and there will be no fighting and bombing. So Ukraine can win militarily and liberate the occupied territories, but in the end there will always be a need for some kind of reconciliation,” he said.

Three options

According to Ludvik, Russia now has three options. He can continue with his strategy even if it doesn’t work. This means that he can try to stabilize the front and shorten it a little and bet on the fact that Ukraine will slowly fade away and that the West’s faith in Kyiv will also subside.

“Without Western support, Ukraine will not be able to defend itself. This is what Russia has been betting on so far, and may choose it again, because other options are difficult,” Ludvik estimates.

Ludvik concludes that “in my opinion, it would be most logical to enter into peace negotiations and try to defend what not only Vladimir Putin desires, but what the majority of Russians believe, namely that control of Crimea is the key.”


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“They could offer the Ukrainians something they might refuse, but the West would not find meaningless, for example, international control of Crimea, with the idea that it might later be decided in a referendum. In short, they played it while they still had control of a large part of Ukraine. It could end up as a defeat in terms of what the Kremlin would have gained in the war, but in terms of what it had been before the war it could be sold as a success.”

packing?

There is also the possibility that Russia will mobilize, but this carries political risks. “Young Muscovites do not want to go to war. Support among the elderly and outside the big cities is greater, but these are groups that the army does not need,” Ludvik rules.

Or the Kremlin could call up the nearly 700,000 reservists who have served in the past five years, even though they are not the best trained. “better than nothing.”

According to Ludvik, with the arrival of autumn and winter, military operations are likely to slow down. “Maybe that is why Ukraine has decided to attack now at the end of the summer, while it is still possible. It does not mean that you cannot fight in the winter, but it is more complicated and both sides are already tired, although the Ukrainians have the opportunity to rotate their forces”, concludes Ludvik .

Listen to the full interview in the audio.

Zeta Senkova, Ph.D.

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