(CTN News) – The conflict in Ukraine is entering its third calendar year, with President Volodomyr Zelensky acknowledging that the spring offensive did not yield the expected success, leaving Russia in control of 18% of Ukraine.
As the war persists, three military analysts—Barbara Zanchetta, Michael Clarke, and Ben Hodges—provide insights into the potential developments in the coming 12 months.
1. The Prolonged Struggle: Barbara Zanchetta’s Perspective
Barbara Zanchetta, from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, paints a grim picture of the prospects for ending the war in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s political strength has grown, and the battleground remains uncertain.
Western unity, displayed strongly in 2022 and 2023, is wavering due to internal political dynamics.
Zanchetta argues that Western hesitation has emboldened Putin, evident in his public appearances and defiant statements.
The EU’s decision to open membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova indicates continued support, but cracks in the Western camp make 2024 a more challenging year for democracies supporting Ukraine.
The war may continue throughout 2024, driven by Western hesitancy, but a negotiated settlement seems inevitable as both sides refuse a complete victory.
2. Industrial-Age Warfare: Michael Clarke’s Analysis
Former director general of the Royal United Services Institute, Michael Clarke, highlights the return of major war and industrial-age warfare to Europe.
Russia’s defense budget has tripled since 2021, consuming 30% of government spending in the coming year, intensifying the traumatic nature of the conflict.
Clarke suggests that both Russia and Ukraine are capable of fighting each other to a standstill. While 2024 may see attempts by Russian forces to secure the Donbas region and Ukraine exploiting successes in the Black Sea, it is primarily a year of consolidation for both nations.
The struggle of industrial-age warfare, demanding vast resources, will determine the course of the conflict in Moscow, Kyiv, Washington, Brussels, Beijing, Tehran, and Pyongyang.
3. Ukraine’s Strategic Moves: Ben Hodges’ Insight
Former commanding general of the United States Army Europe, Ben Hodges, argues that Russia lacks a decisive breakthrough capability and will focus on holding occupied territories while hoping for a decline in Western support for Ukraine.
Anticipating a resurgence of U.S. support, Hodges envisions Ukraine reconstituting worn-down units, enhancing recruitment, increasing arms production, and improving electronic warfare capabilities.
The introduction of US-made F16 fighter jets in early summer is expected to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense.
Hodges identifies Crimea as the strategically vital area occupied by Russia, emphasizing Ukraine’s efforts to make it untenable for the Russian navy. While acknowledging resource limitations, he highlights Ukraine’s success in pressuring Russia through strategic moves.
As the conflict in Ukraine enters its third year, the perspectives of these military analysts suggest a complex and challenging path forward in 2024.
The war’s resolution hinges on political decisions, Western unity, industrial-age warfare dynamics, and Ukraine’s strategic initiatives. While a negotiated settlement seems likely, the unpredictable nature of geopolitics leaves room for unforeseen developments in this ongoing crisis.