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War in Ukraine: a month after the start of the Russian invasion, where is the conflict?

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A month ago to the day, on February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin announced during a warrior speech the launch of a “special military operation” in Ukraine, paving the way for an invasion of the country.

A month after the start of the fighting, the scenario of a long war is looming.

State of play of a war that Europe and the world are following, holding their breath.

on the ground, the situation almost frozen

As of March 24, 2022, the Russian army controls only a small part of Ukrainian territory.

Deployed in the north of the country, Vladimir Putin’s troops took possession of the Chernobyl site, a symbolic takeover but with limited strategic scope. The cities of Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv remain in Ukrainian hands despite Russian bombardments.

kyiv, the capital, is threatened on the eastern and northwestern flanks. But for several days, the offensive seems to be at a standstill. The Russian command is in the process of “replacing direct attacks with an artillery siege”, indicates in its March 23 newsletter former colonel and military specialist Michel Goya. The goal, “to keep the capital within cannon range”.

Notably, “the Ukrainian counter-attacks are increasing”, especially to the west of kyiv. “One can wonder if the Ukrainian forces are not taking the operational initiative”, asks the expert.

In the south of the country, the situation is more favorable to the Russians. From Crimea, annexed in 2014, the army deployed to take Kherson, on the mouth of the Dnieper, and the port of Berdyansk on the Sea of ​​Azov.

Bombarded for weeks, Mariupol has not yet fallen. The capture of this city would represent a strategic victory for the Russians, who seem to want to operate the junction between the separatist regions of Donbass and Crimea. Towards Odessa (in the west) and Zaporijia (in the north), the advance of the army seems to be interrupted.

Finally, fighting continues in the Donbass region, partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

the russian army skates

In the opinion of all military experts, Vladimir Putin did not have the expected results. The blitzkrieg to take kyiv to overthrow the “neo-Nazi” regime of Volodymyr Zelensky did not happen.

Underestimation of the Ukrainian resistance, logistical problems, lack of command, lack of coordination between air and land forces, demoralized soldiers… There are many reasons to explain the difficulties encountered by the Russian army.

Despite state-of-the-art equipment and flagrant numerical superiority – 120,000 Russian soldiers are deployed in Ukraine – Russian troops are bogged down on almost all fronts and suffer notable losses.

According to American intelligence sources quoted by the New York Times, the Russians have lost more than 7,000 soldiers in one month. The Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravd, reputed to be close to the Kremlin, even put forward the figure of 10,000 dead, before withdrawing the information. The Ukrainian government evoked for its part 15,300 dead on March 22.

Officers would not be spared. According to Michel Goya, “five generals and three commanders of regiments (a position that would be held by a brigadier general in France) were killed”.

Towards a war of attrition?

Lacking decisive victories, Vladimir Putin risks engaging his army in a war of attrition. The Ukrainian resistance, far from discouraging the Russian president, could on the contrary accentuate a little more the violence of the Russian offensive.

“The more the Russian infantry skates, the more the army goes upmarket in the brutality of the actions and the disproportionate use of the air weapon”, confided Wednesday to Agence France-Presse a European source close to NATO. .

The situation in Mariupol suggests that the Russian command is heading towards a siege war, aimed at terrorizing the civilian population to force the enemy government to negotiate.

Negotiations continue

Moscow’s goal is still to achieve “neutrality” and the “demilitarization” of Ukraine. If he ended up “recognizing” that his country will not be able to join NATO, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who spoke yesterday by videoconference before the French Parliament, does not want to hear about neutrality.

Since his country cannot join the alliance, “other security guarantees” are necessary, he stressed on March 21. “There are NATO countries that want to be guarantors of (Ukraine’s) security,” he added, saying that some countries “are ready to do whatever the Alliance should do. if we were members. And I think that’s a normal compromise.” As a reminder, NATO’s refusal to engrave Ukraine’s non-membership in stone served as a reason for Vladimir Putin to invade his neighbour.

On the subject of the recognition of the independence of Crimea and Donbass, demanded by Moscow, Volodymyr Zelensky said he was ready to discuss a “compromise” with Vladimir Putin in person. But a possible agreement will have to be submitted to a referendum, he warned. According to the current state of knowledge, Vladimir Putin ignored the invitation of the Ukrainian President.

Pending an agreement, Western sanctions continue to target Russia to put Vladimir Putin under pressure. New measures are expected to be announced this week, as US President Joe Biden begins a diplomatic tour of Europe on Thursday for NATO, G7 and EU summits.

A humanitarian drama

Civilians are not spared by the war, despite Russian promises not to attack them. The situation is particularly critical in Mariupol. More than 100,000 men, women and children are trapped under a rain of Russian bombs, lacking water, food and care. A maternity ward, then a theater where more than a thousand civilians were sheltering were bombed. The European Union has denounced “a major war crime”.

It is difficult to establish a balance sheet of civilian casualties. According to a UN count released on March 13, 636 people have died and 1,125 have been injured since the start of the conflict, a count “probably much lower than the reality”.

Volodymyr Zelensky called on France to do everything to end the war in Ukraine

More than 3.6 million Ukrainians have already fled their country and 6.5 million have been internally displaced, according to latest figures.

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