As the grim anniversary of the first year of war in Ukraine approaches, both sides are actively preparing for the third, possibly decisive, act of the conflict. The first two will have been so many humiliating failures for the aggressor: Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In March 2022, the Russian army, defeated in front of kyiv, had to retreat with considerable losses towards Donbass. In the summer, powerfully rearmed from April by the United States, the Ukrainian army was able to pull off a brilliant double offensive.
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The counter-attack, prepared by “war games” at the Pentagon, led, here again, to a crushing defeat for the Russian army. But in this month of January, the horizon seems to darken again for the Ukrainian army. Mr. Putin is preparing for a long war, waiting for the wear and tear to take its toll on the other side.
On the other side, precisely, we are beginning to understand that time is not necessarily on the side of Ukraine. Hence the urgency to end it as quickly as possible and to win this war by an offensive as massive as possible in the coming months. It is this third turning point that seems to be taking shape these days.
Driven by the Biden administration, continuously spurred on by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the plan, announced by Deputy Defense Secretary Laura Cooper on January 6, calls for giving Ukraine all the means it will to need for change the dynamics, break through the Russian defense lines and reconquer its territories. In other words, it is no longer a question of helping Ukraine to defend itself, but of going on the offensive.
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Thus were presented, at the beginning of January, ever more impressive deliveries: 3 billion dollars (2.8 billion euros) additional, in addition to the 25 billion dollars previously disbursed for armaments. It is also a question, beyond the Patriot anti-aircraft batteries, of delivering medium armored vehicles, or even, soon, heavy tanks (decision expected at a meeting of the allies on January 20).
Risk of direct confrontation
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is still resisting the pressure so far, refusing to allow the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, to avoid taking a potentially dangerous step in the escalation with Russia. .
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Faced with the risk of the conflict deteriorating, with no real winner or loser, with a latent war that would take hold over time – the whole of Ukraine then becoming a kind of immense frozen conflict on the Old Continent –, faced with the another risk of seeing support for Ukraine crumble over time, the allies behind the United States seem ready to take the risk of sliding irremediably towards co-belligerence, and an increasingly direct confrontation with Russian forces, paving the way for possible slippages…
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