At the beginning of the war, experts assumed that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to invade Ukraine with a kind of blitzkrieg. Then May 9 was targeted as the date on which Putin would announce a victory over Ukraine. But the Russian advance faltered for weeks and Russia had to change its war aims.
This week, however, the Russian army has made some significant advances in eastern Ukraine. She was able to take the strategically important city of Lyman and advance further and further into the city of Sievjerodonetsk.
That is why the domestic political bloc of the Russian presidential administration should once again hope that Russia can “lead the war to victory” in a few months. This was reported by a source from the administration, as well as two sources close to the Kremlin from the independent Russian online site “Meduza”.
“We’ll finish them anyway. Most likely, everything will be over by the fall,” believes one of the sources. “Yes, the blitzkrieg didn’t work, some miscalculations are visible. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be possible to win,” says another.
At the end of May, Russia could possibly announce the victory of the “minimal program”, the sources suspect. That would be the complete capture of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. With its new advances, the Russian army is not that far off: About 95 percent of Luhansk is already under Russian control – but the city of Sievjerodonetsk is still missing.
In Donetsk, the proportion is around 60 percent. However, achieving full intake in the next three days does not seem realistic. Thereafter, to further accelerate the offensive, the sources would also consider using conscripts on a large scale in the war. Even before that, there were repeated reports of “very young” and inexperienced conscripts fighting in Ukraine.
While the Russian Defense Ministry continues to state that the “liberation of Donbass” is the main goal of its “special operation,” troops have also settled in the Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts.
The sources suspect that Russia could even launch a new offensive in Kyiv by the fall. However, this is not a stated goal of the Russian attack leadership and it remains unclear how they assess such a goal.
The Kremlin also doubts that Western countries will continue to support Ukraine on a large scale financially and with arms if the war drags on. “Sooner or later, Europe will get tired of helping – it’s about money and weapons production, which it itself needs more. In the autumn they will have to negotiate (with Russia) about gas and oil for the heating season,” believes one of the sources. Russia clearly has more resources than Ukraine without Western support, it said.