Politics

Moscow attacks, but it will not be the decisive battle

Moscow attacks from the north but it will not be the decisive advance. Between European elections and a peace conference, June could be the month that changes the fate of the war.

What is happening on the northern front of Ukraine is part of a precise strategy. Conquer territories by the end of the summer and present yourself at possible peace talks from a position of strength. The attack launched between 9 and 10 May by the Russians against Ukrainian positions located near the city of Vovchans'kha saw the use of aircraft, helicopters, artillery and missiles. The targets were also some settlements north of the Kharkiv Oblast, where using various mechanized units the Russians conquered a series of villages such as Borysivka, Strilecha, Krasne and Pyl'na, and then arrived, around midday on 10 May, until suburb of Pletenivka, practically on the northern border of Vovchans'k, where however the Ukrainian defense maintained the position and control of the city, while organizing the evacuation of civilians. Described in this way it would seem like a decisive advance, in reality it is a total of around ten kilometers of which, at the moment, only three would be firmly under Russian control. What emerges from this episode is that the Russians seem to have applied different methods, showing greater coordination between the various armed components at their disposal and above all having acted after a careful study of the territory and enemy forces. President Zelensky, informed of the movements of Russian troops – estimated at 50,000 units in that area for a month already – had ordered the evacuation of some areas and therefore expected the offensive from the north. Although it is known that the Russians would like to conquer Kharkiv, it does not seem that this operation could become decisive for the progress of the war. If anything, it would be useful in depleting Ukrainian ammunition supplies by demonstrating that Moscow can afford to carry out over 120 air and missile attacks in just 24 hours, reacting to the attacks that Kiev has conducted on Russian soil in recent months. The figure of 50,000 soldiers may seem high, but many more soldiers would be needed to conquer centers like Sumy and Kharkiv. Therefore, considering that the front is very wide, almost 700km, it is easy to imagine that the Ukrainians will still manage to stop the Russians within a dozen kilometres, preventing them from advancing further and then regaining ground once the new supplies of weapons arriving from the USA, with a reconquest that could take place between the end of August and the beginning of next autumn, or before the front gets stuck again as has happened in the last two years. The Russian strategy could therefore focus on conquering the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, places that Putin has always declared to be the purpose of the special operation. But don't go any further. Also because there will be European elections at the beginning of June and a new commission could have a different attitude regarding the fate of the war; Furthermore, the high-level conference on peace in Ukraine will take place in Switzerland on 15 and 16 June (at the B├╝rgenstock, Lucerne, in the Canton of Nidwalden), a meeting between heads of state and government – 160 delegations are expected – during the which we would like to develop a common vision and a path towards the end of the conflict, as well as create the conditions so that peace can be lasting. But until then, Russia will try to advance as much as possible to present itself with a situation where it shows a position of greater strength.