Ukraine survived, but the West has the final word: why predictions of the end of the war in 2023 did not come true and what to expect next
The war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine has become so unpredictable that it has become a thankless task to predict further developments, let alone the timing of its end. Despite all the assumptions about "two or three weeks", "by the end of summer", "by the end of the year" and the like, as of January 1, 2024, the war, unfortunately, goes on.
OBOZ.UA decided to figure out why the predictions of domestic and international analysts did not come true, what prevented the success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, on which half the world had high hopes, how long Putin's aggression will last, and what to expect next. After all, if you really look at the state of affairs, Ukraine has already withstood and proved its ability to prevent Russian forces from waging a large-scale maneuver war. Now it's up to the West, whose help directly affects the further course of events at the front.
What predictions have analysts made about the end of the war?
From the very beginning of the full-scale war, few people in the world believed in the success of our country. The pessimistic forecasts of Western analysts were based mainly on the huge disproportion in the number of weapons and human resources on both sides. After all, the Russian Federation had an advantage in almost everything: tanks, ships, long-range missiles, and more.
In addition, the world underestimated the freedom-loving nature of Ukrainians and the desire of our people to fight for their country. The powerful resistance of our people came as a surprise to Western countries.
There were also no expectations that Ukraine would receive strong international support. Germany, for example, was very doubtful. Berlin's strong military support for Kyiv came as a surprise, probably even to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
However, after the first weeks of the destruction of Kremlin soldiers in northern Ukraine, footage of burned columns of Russian equipment, and the complete fiasco of the Russians in capturing Kyiv forced global analysts to turn their predictions around. Most began to predict a victory for Ukraine, and in the near future.
Among the domestic "prophets" who made similar statements was former advisor to the Presidential Office Oleksiy Arestovych. His assurances about "two or three weeks" before the end of hostilities even became a meme on the Internet.
In addition, in early March 2022, the former Deputy General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Ihor Romanenko, in a commentary to the BBC, admitted that the war would last "several months." Although a year later, he explained that he meant the end of hostilities in northern Ukraine.
Oleksiy Melnyk, a former military pilot and now head of foreign policy and international security programs at the Razumkov Center, also admitted that he had hoped for a quicker end to the war. He hoped that the military command of the terrorist state would be prompted to withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine by the enemy's heavy losses. However, the Russians turned out to be insensitive to losses.
Why the Ukrainian Armed Forces' counteroffensive did not go as planned
Analysts at the American Institute for the Study of War believe that the fighting at the front in Ukraine now resembles a "positional war." And the reason for this is none other than the Western countries, or rather, their delays and limits in providing weapons and technology. ISW researcher Frederick Kagan is convinced that the current balance of power is "actually very unstable" and can easily be changed "in any direction" by the decisions of partner countries.
In order to significantly tip the scales in Ukraine's favor, it is necessary to meet its needs at the front. First of all, we are talking about air defense, high-precision artillery and tanks.
General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, named the following factors as the reason for the positional war
- the widespread use of reconnaissance UAVs, which makes large-scale surprise impossible;
- Russian electronic warfare (EW) hinders Ukraine's ability to fully utilize the high-precision munitions provided by the West;
- the occupiers' defensive structures, which they have been building for many months, exclude the possibility of rapid mechanized maneuvers;
- the insufficient number of tanks and armored vehicles requires Ukraine to strengthen its mechanized forces to avoid losses of personnel given the situation on the battlefield.
How the partners are set up and what to expect next
At a press conference on December 26, Zaluzhnyi assured that Ukraine's military command is currently aware of Russia's plans for the next year and is doing everything to respond adequately to the enemy's actions.
The Commander-in-Chief also criticized Western experts' predictions about Russia's actions.
"With all due respect to the expert community, I don't even want to read some things. They have absolutely no idea what is going on. And there is a very small percentage of experts with whom you can really agree," the Commander-in-Chief said.
At the same time, according to analysts at the Institute for War Studies, if the West stops supporting Ukraine, the Russian army will be able to resume large-scale mechanized offensives "with good prospects for success."
"There is every reason to believe that cutting off Western aid to Ukraine would allow Russia to win a military victory," ISW warned.
In recent weeks, the "Ukrainian issue" has been at the epicenter of political confrontation in the United States: additional aid to Ukraine worth almost $61 billion has been stuck in Congress. In addition, a government came to power in Slovakia that refused to provide Kyiv with weapons, and in the Netherlands, a party opposed to military aid to Ukraine may be forming a government.
Ipsos polls "The World's Response to the War in Ukraine " show that support for Ukraine in Western countries began to weaken in 2022. In addition, there has been a noticeable increase in supporters of a quick resolution of the conflict: while in August 2022, 31% of Americans were in favor of this, a year later, 43% were already in favor.
At the same time, for example, in Canada, support for Ukraine has remained stable. Support for Ukraine among the United States' leading Pacific allies, Australia and Japan, has not changed significantly.
Meanwhile, in the fall of 2023, Western media significantly increased publications about war fatigue and corruption scandals in Ukraine.
Following Slovakia and the Netherlands, in 2024-2025, elections will be held in a number of Ukraine's partner countries, where opponents of assistance to Kyiv may come to power. In particular, the elections in the United States on November 5, 2024, will be of the greatest importance to us.
According to polls, former President Donald Trump has a good chance of winning. He has already announced his intention to stop the "endless flow of American treasure" to Ukraine and to force European NATO allies to pay for the weapons transferred to the Ukrainian army.
At the same time, in a number of countries, Ukraine has every chance of maintaining the previous level of support. In particular, we are talking about France, Japan, Northern Europe, as well as Spain and Portugal.
As reported by OBOZ.UA:
- The International Monetary Fund conducted an analysis that predicted that the war would continue in 2024 . Ukraine's economy will gradually grow, but we should not expect the majority of refugees to return next year. Ultimately, Ukraine will not be able to return 2 million refugees even after the war, the organization believes.
- Military expert Vladyslav Selezniov gave a forecast on the course of the war in Ukraine in 2024. He emphasized that Ukrainian defenders already have experience in preparing for a summer offensive, but next year everything will depend on available resources.