Political activity in Ukraine and political impact of war (04.10-14.10 )
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On October 9, Russian troops started offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction in the Donetsk region. According to some military experts, there is a threat of encirclement of Avdiyivka, which is located to the north of Donetsk and due to its strategic importance has been the aim of Russian assaults since the outbreak of the war. If the town is captured, the position of Ukrainian troops in the region will severely deteriorate and the Ukrainian defense line might be broken, which might cause a significant retreat.
Russian troops also made an an attempt of assault south-west of Orihiv in the Zaporizhzhia region. The attacks on the Pyatikhatka-Zherebyanka line seem to have been unsuccessful, but there is a high probability that Russian troops will keep on trying to advance there. https://war.obozrevatel.com/ukr/vijska-rf-pochali-lokalni-nastupalni-operatsii-v-rajoni-avdiivki-i-orihova-v-isw-nazvali-golovnu-metu-okupantiv-karta.htm?utm_source=wpush&utm_medium=push&utm_campaign=webpush
The Russian army as it has been foreseen is going to use the exhaustion of Ukrainian forces and the shortage of resources wasted in senseless offensive actions to breach the Ukrainian defense-lines in the strategically important places. These attempts have just started and Russian military has a good chance to achieve significant results eventually if Ukraine does not concentrate its forces on counteracting Russian offensive actions. The Ukrainian government intends to continue offensive operations although the supply of Western military equipment and the extent of financial aid are to be diminished.
Ukraine was dropped from a US stop-gap budget bill and the funding deficit caused by this contraction cannot be filled by the EU. It was declared at the Summit of the European Political Community held on October 5 in Granada, Spain. Though European leaders expressed their strong solidarity with Ukraine they could not offer Zelensky financial assistance urgent for the Ukrainian government. https://www.france24.com/en/video/20231006-granada-summit-european-leaders-rally-around-zelensky-but-say-can-t-fill-us-funding-gap
In his speech at the fourth Ministerial Roundtable Discussion on Ukraine on October 11 Zelensky the resilience of the resistance depends “on the continuity of support”.
On the same day, speaking at the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Zelensky stressed that Ukraine needs air defense systems to accomplish the war and protect Ukrainian economy and civilian population. https://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/treba-vibiti-iz-ruk-rosiyi-instrument-teroru-vistup-preziden-86245
The Ukrainian president was not given a direct answer to that issue. And the new aid package for Ukraine, totalling $200 million which was subsequently announced by Washington is eminently less than Ukrainian financial needs for current military operations https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/whatsinblue/2023/10/ukraine-meeting-under-the-threats-to-
The upcoming political changes in Slovakia inevitable after the election success of Robert Fico’s Smer party and the ongoing contention between Warsaw and Kyiv over grain supplies have been undermining ability of Ukraine’s Western alliance to take and carry out joint decisions.
Soon after the elections Slovakia halted military aid for Ukraine because (as Slovakia’s president Zuzana Caputova explained this decision) the parties that oppose support of Ukraine had started negotiations to form a new government. https://apnews.com/article/slovakia-election-ukraine-arms-help-fico-d0c4218044d44721a8d8bbd743a56a56
On october11, Robert Fico was reported to reach a deal with centre-left and nationalist parties to form a new government which is expected to cut down the country’s support for Ukraine. The government, which will be formed and led by Fico, is going to take an approach to the war similar to the attitude of the Hungarian government. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/slovak-election-winner-sign-memorandum-with-prospective-government-partners-2023-10-11/#:~:text=Oct%2011%20(Reuters)%20%2D%20Slovakia’s,the%20country’s%20support%20for%20Ukraine
It will help Hungarian prime-minister Orban to express his opposition to the support of Ukraine more blatantly and boldly.
A representative of Britain’s military leadership was reported to declare that Britain has run out of defence equipment to donate to Ukraine and cannot spare anything more.
Due to that a senior military chief suggested to burden the supply of equipment and ammunition to Ukraine on other European countries. These comments appeared after Ben Wallace revealed that before he resignation as defence secretary he had asked Rishi Sunak to spend £2.3 billion more on support for Ukraine. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/10/02/britain-run-out-of-arms-send-to-ukraine-says-military-chief/
In such circumstances Ukraine’s government can be expected to exaggerate the danger of Russian aggression against the EU states or even take actions confirming these warnings in order to obtain military support required to continue offensive operations.
Ukraine’s intelligence warned that Russia might try to use a ceasefire in Ukraine to restore its diminished military strength by 2028 and launch a new war against Baltic states.
In his speech at the inaugural session of the European Political Community Summit in Granada on October 5, President Zelensky stated that one of the scenarios being currently considered by the Kremlin involves a new attempts of expansion aimed at subjugation not only Ukraine but also the Baltic states and other countries which have common border with Russia. If a ceasefire in Ukraine is established, by 2028 Russia will gain enough military might to carry out these plans. Moscow wants to destroy Europe fas a union of free nations and working democracies and Russia will use war as a tool to accomplish this task. The only way to prevent these events is “to neutralize” the aggressor by defeat. Ukraine has an opportunity prevail over Russia and to prevent future Russian acts of aggression, Ukraine military efforts should be continued without interruption. https://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/shob-u-majbutnomu-u-yevropi-ne-bulo-vijni-nasha-yednist-maye-86117
Meanwhile, Ukraine is facing financial difficulties which can be alleviated only by the measures threatening to cause hyperinflation.
The parliament has adopted amendments in current year budget, increasing the expenditures by UAH 322.6 billion (EUR 8,35 billion), of which UAH 211 billion (EUR 5,46 billion) are to be provided directly for the needs of the Ministry of Defense. The expenses of the general state budget for the first time in history will be as high as UAH 3.39 trillion (EUR 88 billion), and the budget deficit will also exceed unprecental level UAH 2 trillion (EUR 52 billion). Without Western financial aid such a deficit cannot be covered by no means but hyperinflation.
|Besides the Ministry of Defense, the other major funding recipient is the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is to be provided with UAH 79 billion (EUR 2,05 billion). Social expenses will be increased only by UAH 16.5 billion (EUR 430 million). https://www.obozrevatel.com/ekonomika-glavnaya/analytics-and-forecasts/nardepyi-perepisali-byudzhet-2023-obnovlennaya-smeta-pobila-srazu-dva-istoricheskih-rekorda.htm
The high costs of offensive operations restrain the increase of social spending required due to a prolonged downturn in economic activity and infrastructure destruction, which has severely deteriorated living conditions of urban population.
The Ukraine government was not able to restore the energy system damaged by Russian missile and drone attacks. It will not be able to maintain functioning in case of new attacks highly probable in the forthcoming winter. According to expert estimations, lengthy power outages will be widespread around the country because the energy system has become more vulnerable than it was last winter. The Ukrainian government does not have neither the money nor the time to complete preparations for the winter. The further destruction of energy infrastructure which will also impact water supply will be devastating for the economy and social social life of the Ukrainian cities. The United Nations estimated in June that Ukraine’s power generation capacity had been reduced to approximately half of its prewar level. Out of nearly 37 gigawatts (GW), more than 19 GW have been destroyed, damaged or occupied. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-heads-into-winter-with-hobbled-energy-system-2023-10-06/
Dmytro Sakharuk executive director of DTEK, the largest commercial energy operator in Ukraine, acknowledged that some power units still need to be restored and should be considered less reliable than last year. https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2023/10/6/7422981/
Weather conditions are expected to be more severe than last year when the weather was comparatively mild. Due to that the long-lasting power outages will cause heavier social distress and can jeopardize social stability, especially if they coincide with hyperinflation.
In his interview the with Romanian news channel Digi24 Zelensky confirmed decision to conduct the presidential election and take part during the war. https://www.digi24.ro/stiri/actualitate/evenimente/volodimir-zelenski-pentru-digi24-putin-nu-vrea-sa-opreasca-razboiul-2536943
The forecast for potential development of current trends:
- An immediate termination of hostilities is the only way to prevent economic collapse and social upheaval caused by hyperinflation and further destruction of energy infrastructure. The deterioration of the situation on the battlefield can be expected if the Russian army will be given an opportunity to use the exhaustion of Ukrainian troops for a successful counter-attack. The efforts to establish a ceasefire should be taken as soon as possible to prevent such a scenario.
- The continuation of hostilities will facilitate Russian attempts to aggravate contradictions inside the EU. If the level of the US assistance is diminished, it will be impossible to divide the burden of financial and military support of Ukrainian war-efforts without causing political discussions in the EU countries. Besides, the new Slovakian government will strengthen the Hungarian opposition to the EU joint efforts to reinforce Ukraine.
- The Ukrainian government will not be able to alleviate social and economic problems caused by prolongation of the war. The situation on the battlefield can become worse and pubic expectations of military eventual military success will be diminished. In such circumstances Zelensky will have to focus his presidential campaign on the allegations against “internal enemies”, which can lead to additional pressure on political groups that criticize the government policies.
Recommendations for the European institutions and organizations:
- The warning of the Ukrainian government about the Kremlin’s plans to launch an aggression against the EU states cannot and should not be ignored completely. But Kyiv should be made realize that these warnings cannot be used as a tool for increasing financial and military support.
- The Ukrainian government should be advised not to silence oppositional parties and media during the election campaign. The EU entities should take efforts to prevent restriction of activities of Zelensky’s opponents.