Will there be a Ukrainian counteroffensive?
Speculation about an upcoming Ukrainian offensive in the country’s defensive war against Russia has long been rife. According to the US think tank Institute for the Study of War, Ukrainian troops succeeded in crossing the River Dnipro outside Kherson on Tuesday. On the other hand, Kyiv has again reported losses in the embattled city of Bakhmut. For commentators, large-scale retaliation is wishful thinking.
Ukrainians need a victory
A counteroffensive would be vital for Ukrainian troops, Wprost writes:
“In conversation with Ukrainian soldiers on the front you feel their hunger for success, because since the recapture of Kherson on 11 November 2022 no spectacular gains have been made on the Ukrainian side. ... A success on the scale of the liberation of Kharkiv or Kherson is desperately needed now to boost morale. Particularly in view of the situation in Bakhmut, which is bleeding out. Ukrainian troops are still defending the city amid much speculation that it ‘will fall at any minute’ — but at a huge cost in terms of lives.”
No long-term option other than a settlement
Ukraine’s lack of military clout will sooner or later force it to make concessions, The Observer believes:
“A durable truce’s wider appeal is obvious. It would stop the slaughter, head off Russia-Nato nuclear-armed escalation, mitigate global economic, energy and food crises, and bring a sort of peace. ... In theory, either side could yet win a decisive victory. But much more likely, absent a deal, is a bloody, costly, low-intensity stalemate, dragging on for years. This prospect suits no one, except possibly China and arms manufacturers. ...To end their pain and suffering, Ukrainians may soon be asked to swallow a very bitter pill.”
Another frozen conflict on the horizon
Jornal i also sees a stalemate situation:
“The transformation of the war in Ukraine into a ‘frozen conflict’, as was the case for many years with the ‘civil war’ in Donbass, serves multiple interests. Firstly, the US and China can continue to watch Russia get weaker: loss of lives, equipment, arms spending, falling GDP, gaps in the supply of goods and services, the possibility of social protest movements. Then from Moscow’s perspective, the reduction in the intensity of the conflict means, as with other frozen conflicts (Georgia, Transnistria), a futher destabilisation of NATO’s eastern border, but at the same time it creates a certain stability on the Russian and Belarusian border.”