With the war in Ukraine locked in a stalemate between armies fatigued and resource challenged after two years of conflict, a victory could come down to supply of weapons, more than troops.

Experts predict that 2024 will be a tough one for the Ukraine army, but if they can secure more military aid from Europe and the US, then they could fight back in 2025. However, without a constant stream of military supplies, Ukrainian resistance will be very hard to sustain.

The war in Ukraine has had a devastating economic effect, with the economic impact of violence in Ukraine increased by 479 per cent or $449 billion, according to the Global Peace Index 2023, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace. This was the largest increase of any country and reinforces Ukraine’s critical need for international military and financial aid. 

The possible return to power of Republican Donald Trump in the US elections in November could prove a boon for Russia, a blow for Ukraine and a headache for Europe and NATO.  

Matthew Sussex, Associate Professor at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, predicts 2024 could be a grim year for Ukraine

“Europe is finally beginning to wake up to the reality a Trump-led US could abandon NATO, in addition to Ukraine,” Sussex said. “But whether European nations are able to overcome their institutional inertia and webs of entangled interests to stoutly resist Russia on their own remains an open question.” 

“For the Kremlin, the key question is whether it can keep domestic discontent muted long enough for the West to lose interest in the war and withdraw its support for Ukraine. It is unlikely to run out of weapons, having massively ramped up domestic production of armaments and sourcing drones and ammunition from Iran and North Korea. 

“Ukraine, which is fighting for national survival, faces a tougher and grimmer 2024. It will need to continue absorbing relentless Russian attacks, keep its economy afloat and rebuild its military strength for yet another attempt to evict Russia’s forces. 


Russia believes it is winning the war 

Russian forces are likely to peak in late 2024, with increasing material challenges over the course of 2025. Writing for UK defence and security think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Dr Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, Research Fellows in Land Warfare at  the UK’s Royal United Services Institute, said while Russian forces continue to take significant casualties, it is nevertheless growing in size.

Despite two years of deaths and casualties, reported to be a combined 315,000 a recent report puts the current number of Russian military personnel in Ukraine at 470,000. Russian has also boosted its industrial support of the war effort via mobilising its defence industry, increasing shifts and expanding production lines at existing facilities as well as bringing previously mothballed plants back online. This has led to significant increases in production output.

And RUSI reported that after some challenging periods over the first two years of battle, Russian now believes that it is winning the war.

While Russian force quality is unlikely to increase so long as the Ukrainians can maintain a significant level of attrition across the force, the Russians will be able to maintain a steady tempo of attacks throughout 2024,” it said.

The key, it said, is whether Ukraine’s international partners provide it with sufficient resource support.

“If Ukraine’s partners continue to provide sufficient ammunition and training support …to enable the blunting of Russian attacks in 2024, then Russia is unlikely to achieve significant gains in 2025.”

Angela Stent, author of Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest, writing in Foreign Policy to mark the two year anniversary of the war, said the current stalemate looks set to continue, with neither side winning or losing.

The Russians are making incremental territorial gains at the cost of enormous casualties and lost equipment. The Ukrainians, having failed to achieve the objectives of their 2023 counteroffensive, are on the defensive and also experiencing significant casualties.”

“There is little prospect of negotiations to end the war in 2024, nor can either side achieve a decisive victory. The Kremlin has made clear that it has no interest in negotiations that do not lead to Ukraine’s surrender, including the permanent loss of the four territories illegally annexed by Russia in 2022.

“Proposals for how the war might end – including the Korean model, which would involve an armistice, no peace treaty, and Western security guarantees for Ukraine – presuppose that Russia would ever accept an independent Ukraine. As long as Putin or a successor who shares his worldview is in power, that is unlikely to happen.”

Foreign Policy invited a number of experts to provide their predictions on the war in Ukraine. On the issue of whether Europe can go it alone should the US, in the event of a Trump victory later this year, stop providing aid to Ukraine, Kristi Raik, deputy director of the Estonia-based International Centre for Defence and Security, said  there is a real threat that Russia will gain the upper hand on the battlefield.

“Already, US military aid to Ukraine has dwindled to a trickle, and the prospect of Trump’s election victory in November means that European leaders face the gravest strategic challenge to their continent in generations,” Raik said. “If Europe fails this test, Moscow would be emboldened to go further in restoring its sphere of influence and undermining its main enemy, which it has clearly said is NATO.”

Raik said it comes down to whether the West provides Ukraine with sufficient military assistance in 2024 to defend itself, before enabling a counteroffensive in 2025. According to calculations by the Estonian Defense Ministry, Western countries would need to invest just 0.25 percent of their GDP in military assistance to Ukraine in order to achieve the above scenario.

“Looking beyond 2024, Ukraine can win the war if the West steps up support and makes the cost of war unbearable for Russia. Moscow can win if the West fails to mobilise the necessary resources and, more importantly, will.”

Clear post victory plan needed

Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a Ukraine victory relies on ensuring that it has all it needs to defeat Russia on the battlefield, plus a viable plan for a secure and prosperous Ukraine to emerge after the war.

2024 must also be the year when Ukraine’s supporters set out a clear plan for the country’s future,” Rasmussen said. “This should be built on three pillars: long-term security guarantees, accession to the European Union, and NATO membership.”

NATO leaders need to realise that if Ukraine is again left in the waiting room, it will only encourage further conflict and instability.”

Former CIA director and retired US Army general David Petraeus said another key issue in 2024 and beyond is how successful the US-led efforts are to tighten sanctions and export controls on Russia – and cut off schemes to evade them. Petraeus said another factor in the war’s future will be each side’s ability to refine new unmanned capabilities, such as the effective sea drones deployed by Ukraine. Ukraine’s campaign in the western Black Sea – using sea drones and missiles – has largely pushed Russian warships out and enabled Ukraine to restart large-scale grain exports that are critically important to Egypt and other countries.

“Needless to say, the course of the war will also depend heavily on Ukrainian and Russian resolve – and their respective ability to recruit, train, equip, and employ additional forces and capabilities,” he said.

 “Two years on, there does not appear to be a conceivable end to the war in sight.”



Editorial Staff

Vision of Humanity

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