The year 2024 may become decisive in Ukraine's war with Russia: what is the main challenge for the AFU and why the West is increasingly talking about negotiations
In a full-scale war in Ukraine unleashed by the Russian Federation, the year 2024 could be crucial, Ukrainian and Western officials say. Some believe that 2024 will be a more difficult year for Ukrainians, and unofficially, the topic of negotiations with Russia is increasingly being raised in the West.
The events of 2024 will affect the full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war in general
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted that the counteroffensive of the Defense Forces actually culminated in October; since then, the fighting has become more of a positional and exhausting nature."I think we're going to see the culmination of a war of attrition this winter," said Michael Coffman, a fellow at the institution.
He drew attention to the fact that Russia has a material advantage, but this is hardly the main factor. "The decisive factor may be human motivation," the expert assessed the situation.
According to the analyst, the West has aggravated an already difficult situation for Ukraine. While the Kremlin has set one of its goals to weaken NATO, some of Kyiv's partners are delaying assistance.
In 2024, according to Kofman, a turning point could occur if Ukraine is able to effectively strengthen and defend itself against the Russian offensive. He believes that we are now "in the middle of a long play," and the entire next year should be used for targeted attacks on the occupiers' critical infrastructure, bases, and logistics routes of the Russian Armed Forces.
"Then Ukraine will be able to effectively use the next year to create conditions for regaining the initiative," Kofman suggested.
The head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andrii Yermak, said in the United States that a turning point in the war was approaching. Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington, he said: "The next year will be decisive."
A similar thesis was voiced by the chairman of the UK Parliament's defense committee, Tobias Ellwood. In an interview with LIGA.net, he said: "The "decisiveness" of 2024 is explained, among other things, by the US elections.
The 60th vote for the American president is to be held in December 2024. Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump are expected to compete with each other, the latter having repeatedly spoken out against further assistance to Ukraine.
"I believe that Ukraine is doing enough to continue to win support in the Western political corridors. And at the NATO summit in Vilnius, huge commitments were made. However, I believe that next year will be crucial. We are approaching the US presidential election, which could be politically significant. Trump could come back. Who knows where it will go?" Tobias Ellwood asked a rhetorical question.
Support from partners will have an impact on the fighting
In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Czech President Petr Pavel emphasized that maintaining allied support will be crucial for the Ukrainian Defense Forces.
He criticized the insufficient supply of military equipment to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the failure to fulfill promises of artillery ammunition, and the slow pace of training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets. Because of this, the politician believes, Ukrainians have not been able to conduct offensive operations with high intensity.
"We have no choice but to provide Ukraine with everything it needs to fulfill its task of regaining sovereignty and control over its borders: anything less would be our failure," said Pawel.
If Russia were to win, it would "strengthen the idea that other regimes can achieve their goals by force and that they can rely on the weakness of Western democracies."
The Czech president also believes that 2024 will be a more difficult year for Ukraine. If the West misses the opportunity to help Kyiv, "next year may be even more favorable for Moscow," Pavel said.
"Russians are very good at learning - from our mistakes, from their mistakes. What do Russians take? They take with their numbers, with their masses of people. They don't spare their human resources and continue to fulfill the tasks they are facing," said Oleksandr Tarnavsky, commander of the Tavria operational and strategic group, in an interview withBBC Ukraine.
He agrees that the year will be difficult. "The enemy is borrowing a lot from us, learning and adapting.
In addition, the closer we get to the fulfillment of the main task - reaching our state borders - the more difficult it becomes. To facilitate this, we need weapons that do not depend on political swings in the leadership of partner countries, and ammunition, including missiles. Also, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have no other option but to continue destroying both Russian manpower and equipment, Tarnavsky said.
Talks between Kyiv and Moscow are on the table, but it is difficult to organize them
According to NBC News, some Western officials are increasingly talking about diplomatic talks between the parties, as they believe that neither Ukraine nor Russia will be able to achieve their stated goals in the war.
As the fighting slows down in the winter, "there is potential for talks," one of the officials told NBC News.
At the same time, NBC News sources in the United States admit that it will not be easy to bring Ukraine and Russia to the table for dialogue, and both sides are likely to use the slowdown in winter to regroup and retrain their forces.
As OBOZ.UA wrote before:
- Politico recently reported that amid the threat of reduced Western aid to Ukraine, the administration of US President Joe Biden and European officials are quietly shifting their focus from supporting Kyiv's goal of complete victory over Russia to improving the Ukrainians' position in negotiations to end the war. The partners seem to be thinking about preparing Ukraine for defense rather than offense.
- On December 19, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy named the condition under which negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are possible. Kyiv will only discuss the Ukrainian "peace formula."