ISW: Putin won’t back down and uses ceasefire to prepare for offensive

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions are unlikely to change whether or not a ceasefire occurs: the Kremlin will use any cessation of hostilities to consolidate gains and freeze the front line in Putin’s best configuration to prepare for further aggression against Ukraine.

Source: American Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Details: Analysts write that those seeking a lasting peace in Ukraine should resist the temptation to freeze the battle line in such a way as to create conditions for a resumption of war on Russia’s terms.

The specific parts of Ukrainian territory that are still under Russian occupation are important to the long-term viability of an independent Ukraine.

In particular, a strategically important region for both NATO and Ukraine is Crimea. The occupation of the peninsula allows Russia to base anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles 325 kilometers farther west than it could, using only territory it legally controls. It also allows Russia to deploy aircraft in Sevastopol about 300 kilometers to the west than airbases in the Russian Federation. According to ISW, this difference matters for the scale of the threat Russia could pose to NATO’s southeastern flank, as well as Russia’s ability to prepare and support an invasion of Ukraine. Of all the Ukrainian lands that NATO is interested in reclaiming, Crimea should be at the top of the list.

In addition, it is noted that the current Russian fortification on the west bank in the Kherson region is a vital piece of terrain. If a ceasefire, or any agreement, puts a stop to hostilities and the Russians still hold the area, the prospects for a renewed Russian offensive in southern Ukraine would be greatly improved. On the other hand, if Ukraine regains control of the entire western bank of the river, it will likely be extremely difficult for the Russians to carry out ground attacks on southwestern Ukraine. Thus, the long-term defense capability of Nikolaev, Odessa and the entire Black Sea coast of Ukraine largely depends on the liberation of western Kherson.

Parts of the Kherson region on the eastern bank of the Dnieper are also strategically important. Russian military positions in these areas allow Russian forces to fire across much of the Ukrainian Black Sea coast from many short-range systems without the need for expensive long-range weapons, which will always be outnumbered.


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