Once it became clear – which it did, early in this conflict – that Ukraine’s defenders would not slacken against the onslaught of Vladimir Putin’s war machine, analysts predicted a long and protracted battle of attrition, especially in the east of the country where Russia was already had quite a bit of territory in its hands.
And so it turned out. Over six months, Russia has owned only a fraction of the country, and if you look at the war maps we’ve published in these updates over the past few weeks, it’s hard to discern an awful lot of movement in the lines other than observers. of occupation.
But sudden reports from Ukraine are of the Ukrainian army’s sudden rapid advance in the Kharkiv region in the northeast, where Kiev has launched a counter-offensive that has taken the rest of the world by surprise and is on the heels of launching an attack in the region. Kherson in the south. Analysts speculate that one reason Ukrainian forces face less resistance around Kharkiv is that the Russian military command has moved troops and equipment south to the Kherson region. We’ll have more on that next week.
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Ukraine’s General Staff announced this week that more than 50,000 Russian troops have been killed since the conflict began in February. That’s a lot of grieving families. But Vladimir Putin seems to retain the support of a majority of Russians, if we are to believe opinion polls.
Alexander Hill, a professor of military history at the University of Calgary, writes that the Russian leader has the support of virtually all of the country’s news media (unsurprising, given that he controls virtually everything). So ordinary citizens have been fed a non-stop diet of propaganda since before the invasion was launched. Meanwhile, thanks to oil and gas revenues, the economy is still in reasonable shape. And, Hill argues, people may just be too scared to admit their opposition to the war.
Read more: Why Vladimir Putin still has broad support in Russia
Supporters of Russia, however, are not doing so well in the occupied territories of Ukraine. According to Stephen Hall, who researches Russian politics at the University of Bath, Ukrainians who turned from coats to pro-Russian officials in Kherson and other areas under Russian control have been the target of assassination plots, many of them successful.
Read more: War in Ukraine: A Dangerous Time to Be a Russian-Installed Official in Occupied Territory
One area of intense fighting is in the Zaporizhzhya region, where Ukraine has built Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. In recent days, power cables to the plant have been cut, leaving the plant disconnected from the grid and relying on backup power to keep the cooling systems running.
Calls have been made for the establishment of a security zone around the factory in southeastern Ukraine to prevent a nuclear disaster. Ross Peel, of King’s College, London, who specializes in nuclear safety and security, says this kind of intervention would be unprecedented – nuclear plants that have been attacked in the past have not been operational. It would also be very dangerous and legally difficult.
Read more: Zaporizhzhya: Demilitarized zone proposals around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant are unprecedented – expert reveals
But in this fascinating Q&A published by our colleagues in the US, Najmedin Meshkati, professor of engineering and international relations at the University of Southern California, explains the risks.
Read more: UN nuclear agency calls for protection zone around endangered Ukrainian power plant – a security expert explains why that could be crucial
Echoes of the Second World War
There is also growing concern (and quite a bit of international outcry) over evidence suggesting that Moscow authorized the mass deportation of Ukrainian citizens to unknown destinations in Russia. These are not prisoners of war, but perhaps 1.6 million men, women and children who – according to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken – are “interrogated, detained and forcibly deported … from their homes to Russia – often to isolated areas. in the Far East”.
Christoph Bluth, a professor of international relations and security at the University of Bradford, says this has long been a tactic used by Russia and previously by the Soviet Union, dating back to before World War II.
Bluth says this violates the 1949 Geneva Convention, which clearly considers mass deportations or forced displacements to be a war crime.
Read more: Ukraine war: Reports of mass deportations recall Russia’s dark history of forced relocations
Finally, Tim Luckhurst, a former BBC war reporter, now Dean of South College at Durham University, specializes in the history of journalism and has a particular interest in how the British press reported on the Second World War. He dug into the archives to give us an idea of how Fleet Street defeated the brave Ukrainian resistance during the Nazi invasion and occupation between 1941 and 1945.
Interestingly, while the daily newspapers liked to follow government briefings slavishly, weeklies such as The Economist gave a more nuanced account in which some Ukrainian nationalists sided with the German invaders.
Read more: Ukraine: How the British Press Reported on the 1941-45 Nazi Invasion
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