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Ukraine: Is there an alternative to the stalemate?

By Dario Fabbri, geopolitical analyst and director of Domino magazine.


After almost two years, the Ukrainian war is experiencing a prolonged phase of stalemate, with either side seemingly unable to make a breakthrough. This was explained by the Ukrainian Chief of Staff, General Valery Zaluzhny, who deemed any significant progress on the ground highly improbable. These words were strongly opposed by Volodymyr Zelensky, yet they were echoed by major European media outlets, signalling a significant development. This is where the crux of the conflict lies. Unlike a few months ago, the Americans aim, at the very least, to freeze it.

There are a couple of primary reasons for this. They are content that they prevented Moscow from occupying the entire country, but they are concerned about the growing closeness between Moscow and Beijing and wish to sever that tie. This shift in attitude from Washington analysts might alter the scenario in the medium term, regardless of who takes the White House next year.

It’s difficult to grasp how the superpower intends to effectively freeze the conflict, perhaps by allowing Russia to retain control over a significant portion of the occupied territories, in exchange for Kyiv’s entry into the European Union, and who knows, maybe even NATO.

But at this moment, intention matters more than implementation. The outbreak of the Middle Eastern conflict, the second front after Ukraine in the competition with Beijing (with Moscow in tow), has also triggered the American will, exploited by the People’s Republic, to complicate the maintenance of international order.

This potential added distraction could leave the United States exposed in the Indo-Pacific region, where the final showdown with its Chinese rival will likely manifest. This development would delight Beijing, which is obviously keen on ridding itself of the pressure from its main adversary.

Hence, it’s urgently necessary to at least stabilise the situation in Ukraine, and prevent the escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, with the perilous possibility of Iran joining the fight.

There’s a desire to freeze the situation, even against Zelensky’s will, who is still portrayed by Western media as strongly opposed to any negotiation with the Kremlin.

So, from various political circles and US government apparatuses, there are hints of an intention to promote upcoming elections in Ukraine. This would allow the incumbent president to present to the population his (legitimate) plan for reclaiming the occupied territories. Perhaps elevating General Zaluzhny as the main adversary, a figure who has garnered significant attention across the Atlantic in recent weeks.

Potential developments in the Ukrainian conflict that may or may not materialise, especially considering Russia’s renewed push, acknowledging the needs of the Americans. Hence, Russia might be prepared to go all-in in the coming months, even beyond its capabilities. Meanwhile, amid the distraction caused by the events in the Middle East, hostilities continue to rage daily, lacking a solution.

 

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