The Times reported on Sunday that “the war in Ukraine has reached a stalemate after more than three weeks of fighting, with Russia making only marginal gains and increasingly targeting civilians, according to analysts and U.S. officials. ‘Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial Russian campaign of this war,’ the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based research institute, said in an analysis. Russians do not have the manpower or the equipment to seize Kyiv, the capital, or other major cities like Kharkiv and Odessa, the study concluded.”
Biden’s plan A, which he explicitly warned Putin of before the war started in an effort to deter him, was to impose economic sanctions on Russia the likes of which have never been imposed before by the West — with the aim of grinding the Russian economy to a halt. Biden’s strategy — which also involved sending arms to the Ukrainians to pressure Russia militarily as well — is doing just that. It is succeeding probably beyond Biden’s expectations because it was amplified by hundreds of foreign businesses operating in Russia also suspending their operations there — voluntarily or under pressure from their employees.
Russian factories are now having to shut down because they cannot get microchips and other raw materials they need from the West; air travel to and around Russia is being curtailed because many of its commercial planes were actually owned by Irish leasing companies, and Airbus and Boeing won’t service the ones that Russia owns outright. Meanwhile, thousands of young Russian tech workers are voting against the war with their feet, and just leaving the country — all within only a month of Putin starting this misbegotten war.
“More than half of the goods and services flowing into Russia come from 46 or more countries that have levied sanctions or trade restrictions, with the United States and European Union leading the way,’’ The Washington Post reported, citing the economic research firm Castellum.ai.
The Post story added: “In a televised speech Thursday, a defiant Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to acknowledge the country’s challenges. He said the widespread sanctions would force difficult ‘deep structural changes in our economy’ but vowed that Russia would overcome ‘the attempts to organize an economic blitzkrieg.’ Putin added: “It is difficult for us at the moment. Russian financial companies, major enterprises, small- and medium-sized businesses are facing unprecedented pressure.”
So, there you have the question of the hour: Will the pressure on NATO countries from all the refugees that Putin’s war machine is creating — more and more each day — trump the pressure being created on his stalled army on the ground in Ukraine and on his economy back home — more and more each day?
The answer to that question should determine when and how this war ends — whether with a clear winner and loser or, maybe more likely, with some kind dirty compromise tilted for or against Putin.