While Putin once again accuses the West of lying in his New Year’s speech to soldiers, Selenskyj emphasizes in a video message after renewed violent Russian attacks on the last day of the old year: Ukraine will never be forgiven. What does this mean for the rest of the war?
The military expert and former Australian General Mick Ryan emphasized on Twitter that predictions about the further course of the war are almost impossible due to the dynamic fighting and the unclear balance of power. Nevertheless, according to him, there are certain variables that could have a significant impact on the course of the war in 2023.
These are its five key variables:
According to Ryan, the consumption of precision ammunition for attack and defense has led to a drastic reduction in the ammunition stocks of Ukraine, Russia and many of their allies and partners.
“For some, the solution is for Ukrainians to ‘fight like the Americans’ and use less ammunition,” he said. Given the current bottlenecks, this is part of the solution.
But even with a more economical use of ammunition, Ukraine will need large amounts of ammunition in offensives to recapture occupied territories. The medium-term solution is therefore to increase the production capacity of the western armaments industry.
So far, according to Ryan, only the United States has indicated that they would do so. But that could take up to a year. “By then, more effective use of existing ammunition stocks will be the norm.” Fortunately, the Russians face similar problems.
“Ukraine has mobilized its armed forces early and is constantly training regular and territorial forces for defensive and offensive operations,” writes Ryan. Ukraine, which has reportedly mobilized around 700,000, has an advantage over Russia, at least for now, in terms of numbers and the motivation of its soldiers.
“The Russians finally did a ‘partial mobilization’ in September last year after massive losses in northern Ukraine and Donbass,” explains Ryan. “After initial chaotic conditions, they seem to have streamlined the mobilization of people to fight in Ukraine.”
Ryan emphasizes: “The influx of tens of thousands of new Russian soldiers and the possible mobilization of more troops in 2023 pose a challenge for the Ukrainian strategy.” For the ex-general, the ability of both sides to mobilize their people as effectively as possible is a key variable in this war .
The West has been gradual in deploying sophisticated weapons, avoiding deployments of tanks, fighter jets and long-range missiles. According to Ryan, this is partly due to the fact that training and logistics must be guaranteed so that the systems made available to Ukraine can be supported in the long term.
According to the military expert, there are critical voices in the USA and Europe who would see the provision of more advanced weapons such as tanks and the ATACMS long-range missile as escalating. However, Ryan clarifies: “Ukraine cannot win this war through defensive operations alone.”
A turning point will come in 2023, when the West shakes off this unnecessary fear and gives Ukraine the offensive capabilities it needs to retake all of its territory.
There are many reasons for China’s reluctance to date, such as trade relations with the USA. Ryan sees the giant empire’s “neutrality” as an advantage for Ukraine.
At the same time, he points out that China continues to import Russian coal, liquefied gas and oil, which generate revenue for the Putin regime. “However, should the Chinese conclude that supporting Russia is more important than trade relations with the US, Russia’s fate could change significantly,” Ryan said.
“Putin’s leadership started this war, and Zelenskyy’s leadership has united a nation that resists the Russian onslaught,” Ryan summarizes.
He believes Biden’s leadership is crucial to cementing Western resolve and coordinating a steady flow of aid to Ukraine. “By 2023, Europe and some members of the US Congress will put more pressure on Biden and Zelensky to find peaceful solutions to the war,” Ryan believes.
Putin, on the other hand, is playing for time and hopes that by 2023 the West will gradually tire of the war. Military Expert Ryan: “The ability of Biden and Zelenskyy to keep Europe and America united in their support for Ukraine’s war effort in 2023 will be a key variable for the coming year.”