Political activity, political impact of social problems and war effects (16.10.-22.10 )
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The Ukrainian government is menaced by several coinciding processes from deteriorating situation on the battlefield to increasing tension with domestic political allies. If the hostilities are not terminated the combined threats will most likely lead to social and political unrest in a period of five months (by the end of March).
According to military experts, the situation near Avdiivka has become extremely alarming. It has been suggested that the Ukrainian troops located there can be encircled and the fortified town may suffer the same fate as Bakhmut.
The Russians forces deployed in attacking Avdiivka are making moves to encircle the Ukrainian formations stationed there and compel them to surrender, which would cause a general retreat of Ukrainain army in the Donetsk region. Both sides have been reported to suffer huge losses, but Russian troops appear to be achieving their goals, despite tough fighting and heavy casualties. It has been estimated in the recent days that they are only 7 km away from “closing” the encirclement. However, this task may take comparatively long period of time to be completed due to the unrelenting Ukrainian resistance. https://wiadomosci.wp.pl/bron-z-korei-pln-dla-rosji-doniesienia-z-bialego-domu-relacja-na-zywo-6952903922559936l?utm_medium=push&utm_source=pushpushgo&utm_campaign=WPWiadomosci-push&utm_content=652e21cc95ef4986ec21ed59
The UK Ministry of Defence stated that “in the short term” Russian troops are not capable of clearing Avdiivka. https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1714161025413509559
However, it seems highly unlikely that Russian troops can be made to retreat from Avdiivka and they seem to be determined to capture the town, which has been turned into an important fortress. Avdiivka has already been surrounded from three sides. Although it is not going to be seized in the near future, in the longer run Russian troops might be able to gain military success, implementing in Avdiivka the same scheme which was used in Bakhmut. Prominent military expert Vladyslav Seleznyov revealed that the 110th, brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine deployed in Avdiivka has to withstand at least three Russian brigades. https://war.obozrevatel.com/ukr/avdiivka-na-tri-chverti-otochena-vorog-hoche-peretvoriti-ii-na-mariupol-2-0-intervyu-z-seleznovim.htm
Due to the lack of reserves wasted in the senseless offensive operations, the brigade fighting in Avdiivka cannot be significantly reinforced.
For the Ukrainian government the main threat is related to its inability to compensate the probable military defeat by the increase of international support. In the current circumstances the actual demands of the Ukrainian government cannot be met and it makes leaders of some Ukrainian allies to avoid communications with Ukraine’s President.
Zelensky was denied to the opportunity to make an official visit to Israel after it was attacked by Hamas terrorists. It was important for Zelensky to show that he is an important Israeli ally and on his turn can expect to be supported by the Israeli government. Ukraine badly needs air and missile defense systems because the further destruction of energy infrastructure by Russian air strikes highly probable in the upcoming winter will inevitably cause prolonged power outages during a cold period with unpredictable social repercussions. The pro-government media were trying to persuade the Ukrainian society that after the Hamas attack the Israeli government would value Ukraine’s solidarity and compassion and will be eager to help. Zelensky was expected to make a request for Israeli air-defense systems in Israel. But he was reported to have been informed by the Israeli government that presently it is inappropriate time for his visit. https://wiadomosci.wp.pl/izrael-odmowil-zelenskiemu-to-nie-czas-na-wizyte-6952811407641504a
In case of prolonged continuation of hostilities Ukraine will also have to take social and economic consequences of substantial reduction of agricultural exports mainly caused by sharply increased transportation costs. First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine Taras Vysotsky stated in his interview with the BBC that Ukrainian agriculture is on the brink of financial collapse because after the world food prices have fallen, the export of the most important Ukrainian agricultural products has become unprofitable for the producers due to the rising fuel and transportation costs. In order to escape bankruptcy, Ukrainian agricultural producers has to be given an opportunity to export their goods by sea. Several Ukrainian farmers’ associations have declared that this year they are going to suffer losses that may exceed USD 3.2 billion (EUR 3.02 billion). https://www.bbc.com/russian/live/news-66990314
In such a situation the government is compelled to increase pressure on business, nevertheless it can severely hinder economic activities and rapidly accelerate the growth of the shadow economy.
The Parliament adopted in the first reading a bill on the resumption of business tax audits, which had been stopped since the outbreak of the war. It will i primarily ncrease a tax burden on the industrial enterprises, especially middle-sized, which cannot conceal most of their activities. https://antikor.com.ua/ru/articles/660129-rada_podderhala_v_pervom_chtenii_zakonoproekt_o_vozobnovlenii_nalogovyh_proverok_biznesa_kotorye_byli_ostanovleny_s_nach
The government continues using enemy “internal enemy” image create the enemy image of the church Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in order to escalate anti-Russian public sentiments and male more intense public anger against “Russian agents”, including those opponents of the government opponents, who are alleged in preserving connections with Moscow.
The Pairlaiment has approved in a first reading the draft law on banning the religious organizations connected with Russia from any activitiy in Ukraine, The law is to interdict functioning of the UOC diespite that it officially terminated its connections with the Moscow Patriarchate in May 2022. The the draft law was introduced to the Parliament by Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, which indicates its high importance for the government. https://itd.rada.gov.ua/billInfo/Bills/Card/41219
The most active opponents of the law were People’s deputies (members of parliament) Yuriy Boyko, Yevgeny Shevchenko and Artem Dmytruk who represent the southeastern regions. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2023/10/19/7424813/
All of them were loyal to Zelensky and considered to coordinate his activities with the presidential office. They were compelled to break their commitment to the President in order to avoid political suicide, because the law banning the UOC is going to cause public dismay in the southeastern regions. Trying to ban the UOC the government compels his political allies to withstand this action. It threatens to end cooperation between the presidential office and two major parliamentary groups composes of the representatives of southeastern political elite, – the “Platform for Life and Peace” and the Restoration of Ukraine.
None of these parliamentary groups supported the draft on the prohibition of religious organizations connected with Russia. Though only 15 parliamentarians openly voted against the law, 72 deputies (18% of the total number) refrained from voting in spite of their presence during the procedure. https://www.obozrevatel.com/ukr/politics-news/hto-z-nardepiv-buv-u-radi-i-proignoruvav-golosuvannya-schodo-zaboroni-religijnih-organizatsij-povyazanih-iz-rf-povnij-spisok.htm?utm_source=wpush&utm_medium=push&utm_campaign=webpush
The sociological survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) from September 29 to October 9, has shown a growing war-weariness and an increasing concern about the unrevealed conflicts that may divide political and military leaders. Comparing with the last year, the the share of those who believe in the existence of serious conflicts between the political leadership of the country and the command of the army have increased. from 14% to 32%. Their number is especially high in the South, but there is an increasing trend in all the regions of Ukraine. https://kiis.com.ua/?lang=ukr&cat=reports&id=1302&page=1
The forecast for potential development of current trends:
- The Ukrainian government does not have a coherent political strategy and its military goals have proved to be unattainable in the current circumstances. It has lost an ability to foresee the consequences of its actions and prevent their dangerous repercussions. Due to that there is a threat of high-risk steps and decisions that may impact both situation on the battlefield and the social stability inside the country. It should be noted that over the course of time the risk of the actions that may cause social and economic unrest is going to increase. The situation on the battlefield can also significantly deteriorate.
- The combined social, economic and military threats can lead to a deep crisis which would be used by Russia to justify its aggression and expand territorial gains. This success will allow the Kremlin to use the upcoming presidential elections to strengthen its political legitimacy inside the country. The success in Ukraine will also help Moscow to increase popularity in the Global South.
- The attempts of the Ukrainian government to ban the UOC can terminate the cooperation between the political elite of the Southeastern Ukraine and the presidential office, which seems to be one of the main factors of political stability and social resilience in the region.
Recommendation for the European institutions and organizations:
- The Ukrainian government continues to deny any opportunity if ceasefire and effectively silence the supporters of this idea despite that establishing of an immediate ceasefire seems to become the main condition for preserving the social stability in Ukraine. The efforts should be taken to promote the idea of the immediate ceasefire in the Ukrainian media with the help of European politicians and institutions.
- The the Ukrainian government should be advised on the necessity to refrain from any actions than can threaten social stability in the country and therefore refuse from banning the UOC.