Kyiv has suffered defeat in recent weeks. But in just a few weeks, other factors may kick in, giving Kyiv the upper hand on the battlefield.
For the past few weeks, Ukraine has only been declining on important front sections. Many do not believe the reports from Kyiv that these are by no means a matter of defeats, but of victorious tactical retreats. Especially since the dead on the Ukrainian side are leaving traces on the Internet. But despite the loss of the entire Luhansk Oblast, the war is not lost for Kyiv. These points will decide him.
Better position in the Donbass
The losses on both sides are an impenetrable mystery. The only thing that is certain is that the official figures are not correct. But suppose Kyiv was able to pull most of its soldiers out of the pocket at Lysychansk and the Russian troops are actually as battered as reported. Then the Ukrainian armed forces have a good chance of building up a solid line of defense just a little further west, stretching from Seversk to Bakhmut and using the geographical advantage of a ridge. If he succeeds in holding this line, then Putin has conquered two large cities that have been shot up by bullets, but he cannot use the local victory for a real breakthrough.
Kyiv has more soldiers than Moscow
Russia, which is about 3.5 times larger, has fewer soldiers in the field than Ukraine. As long as Putin pretends that it is not a war at all, but only a special operation, he cannot fall back on the population. Ukraine, on the other hand, has enacted comprehensive conscription and is ruthlessly enforcing it. How strong the Ukrainian military is remains a secret, but the personnel reservoir is enough for an army of millions. Which, however, has to be equipped and trained. If that succeeds with Western help, the Russian armed forces would be hopelessly outnumbered. The Russian armed forces are currently strengthening themselves with a trick: instead of being called up, the Kremlin is relying on the lure of money and is hiring more and more private contractors – in the West usually summarized under the keyword Wagner Group. That’s smart from a domestic policy perspective, but it couldn’t do anything against a mass army that had been raised.
High-tech versus scrap metal
It is realistic to assume that the sanctions will prevent Moscow from meeting the demand for semiconductors for modern armaments. Since civilian chips are also covered by the sanctions, there is no way out of misusing components for cars and washing machines. This shortage will cause the Russian side to run out of precision weapons. Even modern armor systems can neither be produced nor repaired. If Kyiv receives such weapons from the West, it will quickly become an unequal struggle. One side has to operate with 1960s equipment, while the Ukrainian armed forces are at least partially equipped with the latest equipment.
The stronger factories
It may be disputed whether Russia is really just a dwarf economically, but it is undisputed that the Russian armaments industry is far smaller than that of the united West and is also being hampered by the sanctions. The West can organize such a large influx of arms of all kinds into Ukraine that Moscow can never keep up. All that is needed for this is the political will, appropriate legislation and appropriate financial resources. The defense industry cannot switch to the “war economy for Ukraine” mode on its own. It can only produce if someone bears the costs. In addition, legal regulations must ensure preferential treatment for Kiev, because in practice this would mean that other customers can wait much longer for their orders if Kyiv is to get their chance in a timely manner.
The possibilities are there – but is it also the will?
The above five factors are not guaranteed. Even the supply of equipment and armaments shows a lack of political will in the West, or the illusion of believing that Kyiv could defeat Russia with the device that is left in the West. With the German contribution of seven self-propelled howitzers, this war will not turn around. And whether Moscow will soon run out of normal and smart equipment is also a wish that essentially depends on whether the West can force other countries not to circumvent the sanctions.