Ukraine-Russia war: 5 key questions to analyze what could happen in 2023
Will 2023 be the year of war escalation, resolution or brutal stalemate in Ukraine, which will celebrate its first anniversary in February? Russia editor Steve Rosenberg and international editor Jeremy Bowen share their thoughts on the BBC’s Today programme.
After months of brutal fighting and catastrophic losses on both sides, is there any sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin is tired of the battle?
Steve Rosenberg : “Fatigue, no – there is no sign. The New Year’s speech of the Russian president gives us a good idea of the current situation of Vladimir Putin, what he thinks and the direction he is going. He wants to give Russia in 2023.
“Indeed, as he made his speech, men and women in uniform stood behind him, looking glum. It told the nation, ‘This is your country now. This is Russia in 2023 – a country at war,” was a vivid image.
Although not yet called war, [c’est] a country where everything is aimed at military victory over Ukraine, NATO, the West, and where everyone is expected to support these goals and be ready to make the ultimate sacrifice – no discussion, no discussion about it, no rallying around the flag. , gather around me, your leader.
They were just visions and when you listen to what he actually said – no olive branches, no compromises, no “let’s find a way out of this mess”.
He is a president who intends to secure victory because either he really believes victory is possible or Putin knows that he is now so interested in this that there is no turning back for him and his only option is to hope for something. . it changes in his favor.”
And the Ukrainians? Will they continue their efforts?
Jeremy Bowen : “[Le président ukrainien Volodymyr Zelensky a parlé de] regain their lost lands – and this includes Crimea, a large province they lost in 2014.
Zelensky has proven himself to be an excellent general, but what they can achieve militarily depends on the support of NATO and, above all, what they get from the United States – the sophisticated weapons they have. , like the Himars missile system, caused a lot of damage.
But in Washington, President Biden took a rather cautious approach, saying that he should not let Ukraine lose and support them so that they can win, but not corner Russia as these threats: nuclear power can become a reality.
Today, Ukrainians understand that they need greater striking power to reconquer their territory. The last time I was in Ukraine, when the Russians were retreating from the southern city of Kherson, every commander in the region I spoke to told me that they needed much, much more punch in terms of modern weapons to win the war the way they wanted to. tanks and planes and that’s what they don’t get.”
Will foreign support to Ukraine decrease?
Rosenberg: “I think it’s part of the calculation [Poutine]because no matter how bad things have gone for him since February 24 last year, he still believes that he has strong cards in his hands, and I think the West will get tired of this war and reduce its support for Ukraine.
There are all kinds of rumors and speculations that there may be a new wave of mobilization in Russia, there is talk of a possible spring offensive of the Russian army. The authorities remain optimistic and talk about victory.”
Bowen: “In November, General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that retaking Crimea would be difficult, and perhaps he meant it was undesirable. , but the fact is that he created them.”
And support in Russia?
Rosenberg: “Currently, there is a gap between the messages from the Kremlin and the realities on the ground.
On the one hand, you have Putin declaring in his New Year’s speech that he will rally the nation to victory, and minutes later – literally – Ukraine launches this devastating missile strike on the Makiivka barracks.
I’m talking about a disconnect, but what we’re actually seeing is this parallel reality that we’ve been talking about for almost a year now.
If you want to know what the Russia of 2023 looks like, cross Lewis Carroll and George Orwell and you’ll have an idea. This is a really weird mix from 1984[Alice] from the mirror where everything is upside down, right side up and upside down: war is peace, ignorance is power.
The Kremlin has created such an alternative reality that from morning to night the state media portrays Russia as the victim, and Ukraine and the West as the aggressors who started the war.
Is each party willing to seek an agreement?
Bowen: “Is there any landing zone for negotiations now? I don’t think so, because Putin either believes that he will win or he has to continue anyway.
And the Ukrainians believe they can win, and after losing so much blood and absorbing so much damage, they will not be tricked into making concessions they don’t want.
Since the start of the war, Zelensky’s tone has changed. In March, in the first weeks when the capital appeared to be under real threat from the Russians, he made statements such as “Life is important, perhaps more important than territory.”
Now they say that they want every square meter back, and if they want to talk, then the Russians should leave their territory.”