Home Economy Ukraine and Russia six months later, article by Jesús A. Núñez Villaverde

Ukraine and Russia six months later, article by Jesús A. Núñez Villaverde

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Six months after suffering a new invasion of its territory and 31 years after its independence, Ukraine is today mired in a tragedy that seems to have no end in the short term. On the one hand, more than six million people have become refugees and around another seven million Ukrainians are internally displaced on their own territory. On the other, the brutal economic deterioration is synthesized in the forecast that its GDP will suffer a drop of at least 45% at the end of this year. In addition, the war is causing human bleeding and serious physical destruction from which it will take a long time to recover.

As a counterpoint, it must also be recognized that the country has undergone a profound transformationmoving from a marked structural fragmentation between pro-Russian and pro-European to another situation in which, under the leadership of a Volodymyr Zelensky become a central figure on the political scene, one can speak of an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians who are firmly committed to their independence from Moscow and for a greater rapprochement with the European Union. In the military field there are also positive factors to assess, given that, even starting from a manifest inferiority of means against the Russian giant, it has managed to disrupt their plans, first preventing the conquest of the capital and the downing of Zelensky, then stopping their attempt to dominate the whole of Donbas (although the Lugansk region is already in Russian hands) and now even carrying out counter-attacks in Kherson and beating military objectives in Crimea.

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Russia, meanwhile, is far from being able to claim victory. Although it is impossible to gauge the level of social support that the invasion may have in an authoritarian regime that has already taken it upon itself to eliminate parliamentary opposition, the voice of civil society and that of the independent media, it is clear that with the troops so far deployed in what it insists on calling a “special military operation” is not in a position to achieve the objective of putting Ukraine under its thumb. And although it was already known that the sanctions imposed by dozens of countries were not going to dissuade Moscow from maintaining its warmongering course, it is undeniable that its economy is already suffering a considerable impact – estimated at a 9% drop in GDP by the end of the year -.

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By the way, Vladimir Putin not only has he squandered his political capital, but has caused a absolute discredit of its armed forces, a fundamental pillar of power -and fear- that has allowed Russia a degree of influence on the international scene that it cannot exercise with any other asset. Likewise, accumulating both strategic and tactical errors, today Russia finds itself bogged down in a scenario that it considers vital for its interests, aware that a withdrawal would be an unbearable setback for its aspirations to recreate the empire that Putin continues to dream of.

The dilemma is served. Ukraine no longer only aspires to peace, but to victory; something that she will never be able to achieve on her own. Russia says this has only just begun, implicitly recalling that it still has other tricks to play (declare a general mobilization, blow up the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, use nuclear weapons). The West, with its sights already set on winter, has to decide whether to increase real support for kyiv to make this long-awaited victory possible, or whether to cower in fear of Russian retaliation. We will see.

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