Political activity, political impact of social problems and war effects in Ukraine (21.11.22-04.12.22)
The two main factors that influenced Ukrainian political process were Russian offensive attempts in the Donetsk region and long-lasting blackouts throughout the country.
In the Donetsk region Russian troops are trying to advance along the entire front line. They have enough resources to continue offensive operations in the forthcoming weeks owing to their 10:1 advantage over the Ukrainian forces in firepower and the successful deployment of formations previously used in the Kherson direction.
There have not been any significant results of Russian offense so far. But there is no reason to expect that the Russian high command would have to stop offensive actions due to the reductions in arsenals or lack of needed manpower. Unfortunately the hopes to keep up the defense seem to be grounded on an assessment that Russian resources and reserves are going to be exhausted in the near future.
Nevertheless the Kremlin has a chance to to achieve limited success in the Donetsk region. Even if from the military point of view the Russian achievements look comparatively moderate, the political effects of highly probable Russian success can undermine a readiness of the Ukrainian society to endure hardships caused by destruction of energy infrastructure.
The Ukrainian society will consent to tolerate difficult conditions of everyday life only in the case of constant military gains. Therefore the government is trying to promote expectations of an imminent victory and denies the possibility of peace talks.
The Ukrainian government at the same time realizes the existing danger of Russian advance in the Donetsk region. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak urged the western allies to reject all restrictions on the supply of present-day weapons now. According to Podolyak the Ukrainian army should be provided with Patriot surface-to-air missile systems, Leopard 2 main battle tanks and ATACMS surface-to-surface missile systems (1). It is important to note that Leopard 2 and ATACMS have nothing to do with the preventing Russian attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure which were used as the pretext for Podolyak’s demands.
Despite the complaints about weapons supply restrictions Podolyak expressed confidence that the Crimea would be liberated by Ukrainian forces in a half year (2). Ukrainian high-ranking officials keep on creating unrealistic expectations in public mind to sustain political stability in difficult social circumstances caused by energy infrastructure destruction. Due to these tactics the Ukrainian political leaders, including the president, have fallen into the trap. They have to refuse from the discussion of the perspective of truce because it could undermine the public confidence in the inevitable Russian defeat in the immediate future.
The negative attitude of the Ukrainian authorities to the possibility of peace talks has been becoming stronger, the more the Ukrainian infrastructure is being destroyed and the higher is the danger of public unrest caused by social hardships. The gravity of current situation can be judged according to the statement of the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko who warned that the city inhabitants might be left without heating until spring if the Russian attacks cannot be not stopped. Klitschko informed that the energy infrastructure dysfunction in cold weather would impel draining water from the heating system and the heating supply would be disrupted till spring. (3).
Other Ukrainian cities can face similar problems with providing water and heating than can cause social disturbance. Nevertheless the Ukrainian political leaders oppose the evacuation of the major cities because they believe that hard conditions of urban everyday life would provoke the western countries to increase the military and political support of Ukraine.
According to Olena Zelenska the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky Ukrainians are ready to endure two or three years if they are sure that they will be able to join the EU after the end of the war (4).
Mykhailo Podolyak declared that the inhabitants of big cities have already adjusted to the hardships of everyday life. Due to this he sees no sense in evacuation of major cities because it demands the place that cannot be provided (5).
Growing social problems urge the Ukranian government to seek the internal foes to deflect public attention from the drastic deterioration of the everyday existence. It explains the sudden pressure on The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) which declared in May its full autonomy and independence form Moscow. Despite that the OUC has officially condemned the Patriarch of Moscow for his position towards the war in Ukraine president Zelensky decided to take severe measures against the OUC (6) which are going to lead to its banning as the “religious organizations affiliated with Russia’s centers of influence”.
High-ranking security officer Victor Yahun publically declared that the OUC is an enemy of the Ukrainian state and should be prohibited to ensure “the spiritual independence” of Ukraine (7).
Such steps can provoke the split in Ukrainian society and undermine its resilience. But the choice of the OAC as the “internal foe” seems to be determined that its banning will make for the Kremlin politically impossible to start any talks on truce with Ukraine.
The possible impacts of the current tactics of the Ukrainian government:
- · The the Ukrainian government will prevent the evacuation of the population of large cities even in the case of total heating disruption to use the hardships to increase the weapons supply and engagement of the Western countries in the war with Russia.
- · The banning of the OUC will cause an escalation of internal tension in the Ukrainian society and lead to seeking new internal foes to ease the public disappointment caused by hard living conditions.
- · The limited military success of the Russian army in Donetsk region may provoke the public unrest that can undermine political stability in Ukraine.
- · The Ukrainian government trying to promote public confidence in the imminent victory might start an offensive operation without necessary reserves and resources which can result in a failure.
- · The Ukrainian high-ranking officials will keep avoiding the talks on truce demanding the impossible preliminary conditions in accordance with the examples of president Zelensky and president party’s parliament faction leader David Arakhamia (8).
- · In case of a failure of the highly probable Ukrainian winter offense and further destruction of energy infrastructure Ukrainian positions in truce negotiations will significantly deteriorate.
Recommendation for the European institutions and organizations:
The Ukrainian government consent to start peace negotiations only under external influences first of all from the US and the EU countries. It seems important to involve experts, public figures and political leaders in creation of the instruments of such influence. The truce has to be established as soon as possible before the energy infrastructure of Ukraine has been completely destroyed and the Ukrainian government has started a politically motivated offensive operation.
The idea of the talks on truce that has been promoted by is gaining support of the influential think-tanks (9) among other things, due to the spreading of our analytics.