With Western officials warning that Russia will seek to end its war in Ukraine in the winter, experts say Ukraine may have “no choice” but to continue its own push against Russian aggression in the coldest season.
speaking at a financial times NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that Russia was “trying to freeze the conflict” in order to “regroup and launch a larger offensive later.” This is because “Ukraine now has the momentum” in the ongoing war, he added.
news week could not independently confirm that Russia is planning a winter “freeze” and has contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense for confirmation and comment.
Former US Army Intelligence Colonel Dan Soller agrees that Russia appears to be trying to put the war on hold. He said news week that it was important for Ukraine to keep up its pressure on Russia during the winter as Russia intends to regroup in preparation to launch another offensive later.
“The Ukrainians have no choice but to continue the offensive,” said Soller.
Ukraine has recorded successes in conducting counter-offensives on several fronts, such as in the eastern and southern zones, in recent months. Though some initially believed Russia would quickly achieve victory if it invaded Ukraine on February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday, more than nine months after he started the war, that the conflict could be a long one.
Stoltenberg on Wednesday stressed the importance of continuing to provide military assistance to Ukraine, as the war-torn country’s performance on the ground is important to any future negotiations with Russia.
“Most wars, and most likely this war, will end at the negotiating table,” Stoltenberg said. “But we know that what happens at this table is absolutely dependent on the situation on the battlefield. So if you want an outcome of these negotiations that ensures Ukraine asserts itself as a sovereign, independent nation, we must provide Ukraine with military support.
“If the attacker wins, it will not bring us lasting peace,” he continued. “So the paradox is that the more we want a peaceful negotiated settlement that ensures Ukraine prevails, the more urgent it is that we support Ukraine militarily to create the conditions for a just, lasting peace in Ukraine. “
Soller said there are several reasons why Ukraine must continue its offensive even if Russia tries to enact a freeze.
On the one hand, the West expects Ukraine to do something with all the equipment and help provided, Soller said. Additionally, maintaining offensive pressure on Russia can help give Ukrainians “heart” when dealing with Russian missile attacks and throw Putin’s army off balance.
“If you give the Russians a chance to put up defensive positions in the winter, they will only harden themselves” and form new lines that will be “very difficult” for Ukraine to attack, Soller said.
He added that Ukraine “does not want” and “cannot” continue its operations throughout the winter throughout the conflict. Some of the places where it could continue its offensive push are in the east, in the Kherson region and maybe even in the Zaporizhzhia quadrant in southeastern Ukraine, Soller said.
William Courtney, an adjunct senior fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Rand Corporation, also said news week that given a Russian pause, Ukraine would be wise to continue their attacks.
“[Ukraine is] soon to be frozen, making this a propitious time for mechanized warfare, especially wheeled vehicles,” said Courtney, who is also a former US ambassador to Kazakhstan, Georgia and a US-Soviet nuclear testing commission.
“The momentum on the battlefield is now with Ukraine,” Courtney said, and it would not be in Ukraine’s interest to lose that momentum. Additionally, it may give Russia the opportunity to regroup over the winter to better prepare its soldiers for future battles.
Russia may try to “camouflage” this intention by making peace proposals in the meantime to urge Ukraine to negotiate, but Russia has not signaled “serious interest” in negotiations, Courtney added.
https://www.newsweek.com/ukraine-has-no-choice-force-putin-winter-warfare-ex-colonel-1765488 Ukraine has ‘no choice’ but to force Putin into Winter War: Ex-Colonel