From the D day (24 February) to the D60 (24 April), the main lines of the war can be explained in certain periods. The Ukrainian army forced the Russian army to retreat. Between March 25 and April 5, the Russian army began evacuating the regions of Kyiv, Sumy and Chernihiv. The Russians considered this (April 6-12) necessary to reorganize and concentrate on the targets they had clarified. After that they headed for Donbass and Mariupol. They took Mariupol, the last settlement in the Sea of Azov, on 21 April (D57). Problems can be seen here, especially in terms of civilians, until they become clear. They want to control the Dnieper watershed by moving north from Kherson. In this sense, the operation continues in the Zaporizhzhia region, albeit limited. They are increasing their measures in order not to lose Kherson to Ukraine again. It is not yet possible for the operation to progress towards the west, to the north of Odessa.
A statement was made by Russia about the Second Phase of the operation on April 22. According to this explanation, the situation/target is described as follows. “Donbass and Southern Ukraine will be taken. Thus, a connection will be established with Transnistria in Moldova in the south.”
Accordingly, it can be said that there are some points that are not clear yet. Almost immediately, some circles evaluated this aim as the division of Ukraine into two, from Moldova to Russia, including the Black Sea and the Donbass. At what stage will this aim be achieved and whether this argument was made to influence the future peace talks, the answers to these are not clear yet. But if this described piece of land is the ultimate goal of the war, it can be said by looking at the current picture of Russia, that this goal is unlikely to be achieved, even if we take into account the continuation of the war for a very long time.
The sinking of the flagship cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea on April 13 caused great sadness and surprise on the Russian side. A Russian sailor died on the sunk cruiser. The number of rescued is 396 and 27 sailors are still missing. On April 20, Putin demonstrated with the Sarmat-ICBM and made statements threatening the West.
The total amount of military aid to Ukraine is more than 4 billion dollars. As of February 24, the amount given to date has reached 3.4 billion dollars. After the seventh package of 800 million dollars of aid, another 800 million dollars of aid was approved as the Eighth Package. In addition, the US Treasury Department provides 500 million dollars in financial aid to Ukraine. Aid continues to Ukraine from European countries. Aid to Ukraine is increasingly in the form of heavy weapons, sophisticated weapons and ammunition.
We cannot ignore the Cyber and Intelligence support given to Ukraine as much as the financial aid.
When an analytical study is made, some important conclusions can be drawn for D60 (14–24 April 2022). Let me leave the numerical data aside and point directly to the results here.
The USA and its partners think that Putin has lost psychologically, he could not achieve his strategic goal, the pressure on Russia should be increased. Currently, the USA and its Partners are more advantageous in time management. Recently, they saw that their policies and support to Ukraine were effective and they made an effort to be even more effective.
Russia’s (Putin’s) situation is critical. This was affected by the impact of sanctions and slow progress on the ground. It cannot find a way to block the support given to Ukraine. It has entered a paradox: It cannot find a solution how to overcome this process without challenging the USA, and cannot figure out what it will cost if it does. Putin was on the verge of making sensitive decisions, he changed his operational plan and administration. Now he wants to speed up, waiting for his strength to be seen, without these, he has difficulties. Putin introduced a new plan, prioritizing progress in the Donbass and Crimea regions. Finally, it was noteworthy that he mentioned Transnistria, Moldova. He was able to take Mariupol on the D57, but was not happy. The psychological impact of the Moskva Cruiser was great. In summary: Putin thinks that in addition to seizing the second phase target in the operative scope in Ukraine, a strategic target should be set against the USA and its Partners and significant gains should be made in this direction.
Zelensky proved himself in the leadership of the country. The situation in the country is critical. The USA survives primarily with military and financial aid from the West, and it is seen that a significant part of its demands are met in this respect. In a way, they mean encouragement. Especially the USA and UK may not favor the conclusion of the war in a short time. This wing, which is Zelensky’s main supporter, may want Russia to wear out more. This is an important issue that poses a paradox for Zelensky. His country is being burned and destroyed. The new situation that emerges here is the attacks made as a result of the Information War. During this period, Ukraine withdrew from the peace table.
The chart above summarizes the leaders’ refusal. This also signifies their approach to peace or truce. In general, the last 10 days show that Putin and Zelensky have entered a process where they have started to diverge to a large extent from the efforts towards peace.
Looking at it like this:
- The USA and its Associates maintain their status. In fact, judging from the situation in the last weeks (it happened from the USA and UK); time in their favour, and the continuation of the prolongation of the war, thus the further attrition of Russia.
- Zelensky thinks that he can save his country and has gone beyond evaluating the current conditions and started to point out that he can only sit at the table for peace if Russia agrees to leave the country. Ukraine increased its requests for support from the West. Zelensky thinks he has won in strategy, this time looking to increase operative gains.
- This is an argument that Moscow cannot accept, and thus Lavrov made a statement pointing out that the peace negotiations had stopped. Putin seems very angry and restless. In terms of not losing more resources and time in the war, but achieving the objectives immediately, it increases the pressure on its nature. Russia came to the critical threshold again, it is losing prestige, it changed its target in the war, the difficulties could not be overcome, the conditions of the battle became more harsh. Instead of looking for an exit, Putin seeks strategic gain.
Is there a strategic level war risk?
CIA Director William Burns made a statement on April 15 that he is of the view that they have not ruled out the possibility of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons.
On April 23, a Russian military official briefed on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Provocations. That official said the United States was preparing provocations to accuse Moscow of using weapons of mass destruction. The argument here is presented as follows: “There is an American plan in response to the successes of Russian troops in the invasion of Ukraine. The US has developed at least three scenarios to blame Russia, and there may be provocations, most likely in Kharkiv, Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia, where a nuclear power plant is located.”
According to Russia’s claim, the 3 scenario titles that the US can frame for the use of WMD in Ukraine are as follows: 1) (Highly likely) a false flag operation with biological laboratories or nuclear power facilities in Kharkiv or Kyiv; 2) (Probable) covert use of WMD in the context of tactical nuclear weapons or chemical attack in Mariupol; 3) (Unlikely) Explicit WMD use with biological weapons in Kramatorsk or Slavyansk.
The Russian Defense Ministry’s information is presented as follows: “The United States is preparing a provocation to accuse the Russian Armed Forces of using chemical, biological or tactical nuclear weapons.”
US officials explain: “In 2022 alone, at the request of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, more than 220,000 ampoules of atropine were delivered from the USA.”
- The USA and its Partners, Russia lost psychologically, could not achieve its strategic goal, pressure should be increased. The Russian strategy under the leadership of the USA continues successfully and the partners are satisfied with it. Because Russia is getting weaker.
- Putin thinks that in addition to seizing the second phase target in the operative scope in Ukraine, a strategic target should be set against the USA and its partners and significant gains should be made in this direction.
- Putin is aware that he has lost operationally, he is nervous, he is trying not to lose strategically, he is looking for ways to shift his efforts to this area. He gave the signal to “continue” for the operation.
Permanent ceasefire and attempts at peace have ceased.
- It can be deduced that the Economic, Information, Political and Hybrid War waged by the West and the new weapons given to Ukraine delayed the peace for a while. The West and Ukraine look at this situation in terms of defeating Russia and removing it from the territory of the country, but this situation presents difficulties for the time being.
- It should be observed whether technical negotiations for peace/truce will continue in the coming days.
- We will continue to see Russia’s progress in the Donbass and Crimea, at least until the beginning of May, within the “Special Operation”, which it refers to as the Second Phase.
- In this period, destruction and loss may increase in the relevant regions (mainly in the conflict areas in the east and south of Ukraine).