WAR IN UKRAINE. Since Vladimir Putin’s speech and the organization of referendums in Ukraine, the war with Russia seems to be taking a new turn. How will the conflict evolve?
More than 200 days after the start of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the war between the two countries is entering a new phase. While the Ukrainian army has been managing for some time to push back Vladimir Putin’s men on several fronts, the Russian president, seeming to be at an impasse, has decided to force through. Thus, referendums are organized in four Ukrainian regions to know whether or not the inhabitants still living in these territories wish to be annexed by Russia.
While the outcome is little doubt in favor of the “yes”, it marks an important turning point in the war. Because indeed, although this referendum is not recognized on an international scale, Vladimir Poutine will estimate that these territories are from now on his in the event of approval of the population. The Kremlin has thus announced that any attempt to regain control over these sectors will be considered an attack on Russia. In short, what, in the eyes of Vladimir Putin, justify the deployment of soldiers in Ukraine. A deployment reinforced by the mobilization of 300,000 additional men, as announced by the head of the Kremlin, in a televised speech on Wednesday September 21, 2022. On this occasion, he did not hesitate to agitate the nuclear threat to defend himself facing the West which, according to him, wants to “destroy Russia.”
Threats that do not seem to shake Volodymyr Zelensky, who said, in an interview with several French media on Friday, September 23, “not to believe that the world will allow” Vladimir Putin to press the button. However, the Ukrainian president does not envisage a peaceful outcome to the conflict: “yesterday Putin said he wanted a diplomatic solution, today he is starting the mobilization, tomorrow he will say he wants a dialogue. “It’s not an agreement that will work with Russia but the ability to respond with force. We have to show force, isolate Russia. Only force can help us.” A force which, in his eyes, requires even greater logistical support from allied countries. “I would like France and all the other countries to do even more,” he urged. In view of the speeches of the two Heads of State, are we moving tirelessly towards an escalation of the conflict? The other countries do not want to resign themselves to it.
The international community behind Ukraine
If Vladimir Putin’s remarks had the effect of a bomb, European leaders reacted quickly. The spokesperson for the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, denounced a “clear signal sent to the international community during the week of the United Nations General Assembly of its desire to continue its destructive war which has negative consequences in the whole world”, that the 27 were going to “study new restrictive measures” against Russia, after the threats made by Vladimir Putin. Earlier, Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “I think this (Putin’s threats, editor’s note) again calls for sanctions on our part.” For now, the content of this new wave of sanctions has not yet been decided. But it aims to weaken and isolate a little more a country already the target of numerous economic sanctions since the start of the war in Ukraine.
On the side of world leaders, the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss considered that “Vladimir Putin’s speech this morning and his decision to mobilize the Russian population is a clear admission that his invasion is a failure”. For German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, “Putin is only making things worse. From the start, he has completely underestimated the situation, and the Ukrainians’ will to resist.”
For his part, Emmanuel Macron deplored a “blackmail” by Vladimir Putin and believes in a peaceful resolution of the conflict, especially since he judges Russia at an impasse, both military, economic and diplomatic. For the French president, “we must put ourselves in a position to restore dialogue.” “We are not at an impasse”, confided the Head of State to BFM TV, not wanting to give in to bellicose escalation by military means: “we are not at war with Russia, but we we have to help Ukraine and convince other countries to follow us to increase the pressure on Russia.” According to Emmanuel Macron, “it will only end around a table! We cannot give in to excitement.” But the French head of state already wants to be firm with a view to possible negotiations: not an ounce of Ukrainian territory must be ceded to Russia, wanting to maintain “the lines of February”, that is to say say the borders established before the start of the war. At the UN, he also called on the international community to “put maximum pressure” on Vladimir Putin, welcoming in passing the statements of China and India, rather considered as allies of Moscow, who called for the end of the war in Ukraine.
Seven months after the start of the war in Ukraine, and as the conflict gets bogged down, Vladimir Putin is putting pressure on the neighboring country and its allies. During a speech this Wednesday, September 21, 2022, the Russian president got angry with a West which, in his eyes, wants to “destroy our country” and which “has exceeded all the limits of its aggressive policy.” In his words, “we offered peaceful solutions, but the West rejected them.” Thus, Vladimir Putin announced an increase in the means deployed in Ukraine to carry out his “special military operation” whose “main objectives remain unchanged.” A “partial mobilization” was thus decreed by the Russian head of state, corresponding to a call to commit for all citizens registered on the lists of reserves but also “those who have military experience.” Vladimir Putin wants to swell his ranks, a “decision commensurate with the threat we face, to ensure the security of our population, for territorial integrity.” 300,000 people are affected. The call begins on Wednesday. Before leaving for the front, training will be carried out, it has been announced.
Vladimir Putin threatens nuclear response
Beyond human resources, Vladimir Putin once again brandished the nuclear threat, believing that he was the target of “nuclear blackmail”. The Russian president “made a point of recalling that the Russian Federation is also equipped with a number of sufficiently heavy weapons.” Before continuing: “if ever its national interests of Russia are threatened, we will undoubtedly use all the weapons which are at our disposal.” The leader thus wanted to warn his opponents: “those who blackmail with nuclear weapons must know that this blackmail can turn against them.”
“Referendums” in Ukraine with annexations by Russia?
A threat that marks a real turning point in the war in Ukraine, especially since referendums will be organized on September 23 and 27, 2022 in four Ukrainian regions to determine whether or not the local population wishes to be annexed by Russia. A similar process was used in 2014 in Crimea, where more than 97% of voters were in favor of joining Russia.
Faced with the displacement of populations and the majority remaining on the spot only Russian speakers, the result is not in doubt. Vladimir Putin will then seek to take control of these territories, as in Crimea. “Russia cannot abandon people close to it to be torn apart by executioners and not respond to their desire to determine their own destiny,” said the Russian president.
Why is Vladimir Putin strengthening his army in Ukraine?
If Vladimir Putin made such announcements, almost seven months to the day after the start of his offensive in Ukraine, it is because the “special military operation” he launched is slipping. The Ukrainians indeed manage to launch counter-offensives in several regions of the country, in particular on the side of Kharkiv, in the north, from where the Russian army is withdrawing, but also on the side of Kherson and Lugansk, through, in particular , bombings.
Also, the announcement of the mobilization of reservists is not insignificant. Indeed, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, this represents 300,000 people. What to compensate for the human losses since the beginning of the conflict? Very likely. If this same ministry says that it has lost only 5,937 men since the start of the conflict, the reinforcements announced should make it possible to replenish the decimated ranks, but also to strengthen them, even if Russia has always remained opaque on the number of soldiers deployed.
In addition, the supply of its troops in material seems to know some difficulties. The Head of State asked manufacturers to “accelerate production capacities” in order to “deliver the necessary armaments” to the army “as quickly as possible.” Brandishing the nuclear threat could thus aim to slow down the Ukrainian response while new ammunition is delivered.
For six months, Ukraine has therefore been at war with Russia. An invasion which has direct consequences on the country, both on the loss of control of certain territories and on a particularly heavy human toll. While the borders of Ukraine are in the process of being redrawn by Russia, the return of war to the gates of the European Union has led to major upheavals as far away as France and even throughout the world, both in both geopolitically and financially. The repercussions on food and energy prices were not long in coming, while various international sanctions were taken. Discover below the latest news related to the war in Ukraine.
In five months of war, Russia has gained ground in Ukraine. It took control of several territories, in the east of the country, extending its hold in the oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk (orange) -already partly won over to the Russian cause-, as well as in the north of these two regions, near Kharkiv (red zone), but also in the south of the country, on the shores of the Sea of Azov, as well as on part of the Black Sea coast (red zone). It is on these sectors that Vladimir Putin’s army really concentrates its efforts, as evidenced by the map updated daily by Project Owl.
Why did Vladimir Putin decide to launch a “military operation” in Ukraine? The Russian invasion attempt is the result of long months of tension between Russia and its neighbor. A look back at the distant origins and immediate causes of the war in our dedicated article below.
The toll of the war in Ukraine is growing day by day. However, it is difficult to establish a precise one on a daily basis. Only the United Nations attempts to regularly update the number of people killed and injured in the fighting. Each week, the organization takes stock of civilian casualties in the country.
According to the latest published figures, on September 19, 2022, 5,916 civilians have died since the war broke out. Of which, 5,537 are adults and 379 children. In addition, at least 8,816 people were injured. A balance sheet that lacks precision, however, as recognized by the UN itself: “the actual figures are considerably higher, because the reception of information from certain places where intense hostilities took place has been delayed and numerous reports are still awaiting confirmation.
On the side of the military record, communications from Ukraine and Russia on their mutual losses are rare. On August 22, the head of the Ukrainian army, Valery Zaluzhny, declared that “nearly 9,000 [soldats ukrainiens] were killed” in six months of war.