The war in Ukraine marked the peak of the crises of 2022. Some people expected the war to be short-lived.
However, it has already entered its second year and keeps dragging on.
The war is bringing a lot of tension to the international stage. This makes this interview with Middle East strategic policies researcher, Kazem Yawer, acquire special importance.
Sir, can you give us information about the situation on the ground in the Russian-Ukrainian war?
The situation on the ground is significantly changing. Ukrainian troops have managed to significantly withstand the Russian army, and even more so, they managed to free some places from the control of the Russians.
This make us return to the origin and the beginning of the war. The Russian goals were to quickly take over and dismantle the military capabilities and military infrastructure of Ukraine so that it would not have a suitable ground for further empowerment, and the empowerment of NATO on Ukrainian soil in the future.
Russia initially hoped that the entry of its troops into Ukraine would be met with interaction from some Ukrainian segments who are pro-Russian. Accordingly, the ruling regime in Kyiv would be changed in favour of Russia. Nonetheless, this estimate has not materialized since the beginning of the war.
So, what is the Russian vision of the war?
Russia moved to another vision when it saw that there is a coherent system that has the support the backing of the West led by the United States and NATO. This backing for the regime in Ukraine is strong. NATO’s goal is to have a war of attrition for Russia in Ukraine.
For its part, Russia accepted this war of attrition in its decision and dealt with it in the same way, that is, Russia slowed down the process of not quickly bringing down the Ukrainian regime and the Ukrainian army, so that it would likewise deplete NATO and American forces.
Are there other goals for Russia to accept this war of attrition?
Russia explores the capabilities of NATO and America. It becomes clear day by day to what extent America will continue to support Ukraine.
These points were not known to Russia, and only the war revealed them, as the results of the confrontations on the ground have enabled Russia to know and see the extent of NATO’s support to the Ukrainian army.
It is true that Russia is losing and being depleted, but on the other hand, there are problems with NATO and America, in particular.
Sometimes we see problems inside the United States about the continuation of absolute and unlimited support for Ukraine, perhaps for political reasons, security reasons and economic reasons.
What is the secret behind the steadfastness of the Ukrainian army in the face of Russia?
Of course, the war in Ukraine has turned from a local war between Ukraine and Russia into a pivotal war.
The resistance of the Ukrainian army against Russia may be due to the patriotism and courage of Ukrainian soldiers.
However, this does not mean that this commitment is the decisive factor in this steadfastness. We must reckon that Russia used the tactic of Ukrainian attrition.
True, the Ukrainian army has advanced in some Ukrainian cities. Nonetheless, we do not need to forget that the war is going on inside Ukraine.
The destruction of infrastructure comes at the expense of the Ukrainian state. All operations are going on in Ukraine. Although there is some kind of progress, this progress comes at the cost of the demolition of infrastructure and entire cities.
We must be precise in describing the Ukrainian war. There is nothing on the horizon that can help us assume that this war will come to an end by a specific date.
Do you think Ukrainian progress in some areas may open the door for Kyiv to recapture Crimea?
From a military point of view, supplies and roads leading to Crimea must be cut off by Ukrainian forces. This requires significant work from Ukrainian forces, knowing that there are large strategic cities in the hands of Russian forces. Ukrainian forces have not advanced to liberate these cities.
Of course, if there are withdrawals or a Russian break, in general, there will be thinking about the diplomatic dimension. However, now we cannot correctly assess the situation on the ground. There are still strategic ways, since Russia controls vast areas of Ukraine.
How will Russia react if it is pressured internationally on the issue of Crimea?
Considering at this stage the idea of taking Crimea from Russia, I do not rule out that there is an option to use Russian nuclear weapons if things get to this point.
Crimea means a lot to Russia at this stage. Russia will not enter diplomatic or military negotiations. If there is a direct military threat to Russia’s forces in Crimea, I cannot rule out that Russia will resort to the use of the nuclear option, albeit on a limited scale and not on a large scale.
Nuclear weapons are for mass destruction. No human being wishes to use them. Nevertheless, wishes are something, and wars between states are something else.