"Want to recapture everything": Selenskyj gambles because he has to

In the Ukraine war, the Russian army is slowly but surely advancing.

"Want to recapture everything": Selenskyj gambles because he has to

In the Ukraine war, the Russian army is slowly but surely advancing. There is little sign of a counter-offensive. In this respect, it is irritating that President Zelenskyj is now promising to reconquer the entire territory. Is he serious?

Sievjerodonetsk is the name of the city that is currently dominating the headlines from Ukraine. It is the last major city in the so-called Luhansk People's Republic that was still under the control of the government in Kyiv. But that's over now. Civilians and the last of the soldiers have holed up in a chemical plant, but that won't change the fact that the Russians control the city. The city's fall is symptomatic of the second phase of the war. After the disastrous first few weeks things are going better for the Russians. They now play their superiority better.

Ukraine is on the defensive and is calling on the West - and with it Germany - to deliver heavy weapons more quickly. Especially artillery and tanks are needed. The US analyst Michael Kofman even speaks of a decisive phase of the war. Both sides are exhausted and it is highly unlikely that Ukraine will launch a counteroffensive. Military expert Carlo Masala from the Bundeswehr University in Munich says in "The Pioneer" that it is "unthinkable" that Ukraine would militarily drive the Russians out of the country entirely. So it comes as a surprise that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is making big announcements now of all times. In his video speech on Monday evening, he announced that the entire territory would be recaptured, including Crimea, as he explicitly said. The Ukrainian flag will again fly over Yalta and Sudak. "Of course we will also liberate our Crimea."

That seems surprisingly optimistic. But there are several reasons that explain Selenskyj's behavior. "After Bucha and Mariupol, he has no other option," says German Ukraine expert Andreas Umland from the Stockholm Center for East European Studies (SCEEUS). He is alluding to the bloody occupation of the Kiev suburb and the merciless artillery shelling of the Black Sea city. "It's no longer possible for him to cede Ukrainian territory to Russia," Umland told ntv.de. "That would no longer be plausible to Ukrainian society."

However, he does not necessarily believe that Zelenskyy will insist on actually retaking Crimea. "I suspect that internally, too, it is seen that Ukraine has to accept compromise solutions." In addition to the peninsula, the expert only refers to the so-called People's Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. "But as far as the newly conquered areas are concerned, such as Zaporizhia and Cherson, you have to take that seriously." If Zelenskyy was willing to compromise, the message would be: "I agree to hand over territory to a country that murders, maims, imprisons and deports civilians." Surroundings are surprised that there was such a harsh occupation regime. "It takes all the space out of negotiations."

Russia will no longer give up Crimea, says British political scientist Aglaya Snetkov from the renowned University College London. "Putin has an amazing ability to sell anything to the Russian public, but I don't think he could justify losing Crimea," she told ntv.de. Even if hardly anyone was interested in Crimea in the past, the Russians now regard the peninsula as part of their country. That is Putin's work - after the protests in 2012 he used the annexation to make himself popular with the people. Then he couldn't give her back.

Snetkov also assumes that Zelenskyj is saying what the Ukrainian public wants to hear. But it's also about continuing to attract the world's attention, she says. He's been incredibly good at that over the past three months: "He managed to make headlines and keep Ukraine in the news." This is of crucial importance, because wars often end with Western attention fading and then negotiations leading to compromises of some kind. Just like in 2014. After the annexation of Crimea, interest in the war in the West quickly waned, although the ceasefire was constantly broken. Ukraine didn't get guns either. Selenskyj's message is now: "Don't forget us, keep supporting us!"

Manfred Sapper from the trade journal "Osteuropa" sees another aspect: it is also about driving up the price for negotiations. "The demand for recovery is certainly a tactical calculation to increase the price for any compromise," he says in an interview with ntv.de. Sapper also doesn't think it's realistic that Ukraine could succeed in recapturing Crimea militarily. "Crimea should be left out and treated as a problem that can be talked about in 20 or 50 years."

But for Sapper, too, Zelenskyj's message is inward-looking. In the first few months, he had "splendidly" succeeded in winning the battle for public opinion. He is the counter-model "to this mask-like Putin, who claws at his six-meter-long table out of insecurity." The President must take maximum positions to show what Ukrainian society and its soldiers are fighting for. "Zelenskyj has been the backbone of Ukraine's defense preparedness since the beginning of the war."

According to media reports, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi want to travel to Kyiv this week. Did Zelenskyj also want to send a signal to these three? Sapper assumes that the speech in the Chancellery was "very precisely registered." "This troika" is interested in "ending the acute war as soon as possible. The question is whether there could be something like a Minsk 3 armistice. If Zelenskyj feared that, he would have sent a clear signal against it." Andreas Umland does not believe that something like this would still be possible. In March there was still willingness to negotiate. Now the positions have hardened. "One can only hope that Scholz understands that too," said Umland. "That this is not Ukrainian ethno-nationalism, but an enforced position."

Yorum yapabilmek için üye girişi yapmanız gerekmektedir.

Üye değilseniz hemen üye olun veya giriş yapın.