War in Ukraine — 2023 wrap-up

Christmas is coming and Zelensky is back from a tour in the Americas and Europe just like he did one year ago. Putin also held his annual press conference, the first time after he started the war in Ukraine. Here’s my wrap up of what we have learned about the war in the past one year and what’s ahead:

1. Russia didn’t advance much in the spring and Ukraine’s much-awaited counteroffensive hit the defenses without any major breakthroughs. That does not mean the war would be stuck. Intense fighting is continuing all across the frontlines as we speak. We are in a situation where nobody is winning and nobody is happy. Men and machines burn on daily basis.

2. It seems clear Russia’s goal remains Ukrainian capitulation and complete takeover. We have seen the pattern. Now Putin says Odessa belongs to Russia. He doesn’t mention Ukrainian officials by name just like his political opponents who have been taken out. He is on a mission to punish Ukraine like Prigozhin just because they fight back. It looks very unlikely Russia would ever settle this war as long as Putin is alive and there are Ukrainian soldiers standing.

3. For Ukraine most of their territory occupied a year ago is still under Russian control. Ukraine will continue to defend Russian attacks over the winter and hopefully get into counteroffensive again when its resources allow. It is not conceivable Ukraine would settle and surrender any parts of its territory no matter what others say and how much support they get. Otherwise all the fighting and nation build-up project up to this point would become tears in the rain.

4. The Free World’s support has become the subject of political games. This is however all anticipated and expected. There will always be voices in an open society like the US republicans and the current head of the Hungarian government. It does not mean Ukraine would be out of backing anytime soon. Just remember the EU just decided to start official membership talks with Ukraine no matter of one lone opponent.

5. What happens in 2024 is all open. The big picture is very much like in December 2022. The parties are the same and the stakes are the same. Even the frontline is about the same. The default scenario is that the war just drags on and on unless some surprise event unfolds. My wish for 2024 is that in one year from now Ukraine has taken the next steps towards ultimate victory and I don’t have to write again the same projection for 2025.