July 22, 2024

Ukraine should shift from setting the groundwork for post-war recovery to preparing for a long war.

Source: The Economist

Details: The Economist notes that the Ukrainian army can still make a breakthrough at the contact line in the coming weeks, but “it would be a mistake to bank on that”. It is useless to demand a ceasefire or peace talks. Vladimir Putin appears not to be interested in bargaining and, even if he were, he could not be trusted to uphold his end of the bargain.

He is hoping Donald Trump wins reelection while he waits for the West to grow weary. Any ceasefire would only serve as a pause while Putin rearms and prepares for another attack because he needs war to support his domestic dictatorship.

Quote: “Both Ukraine and its Western supporters are coming to realise that this will be a grinding war of attrition.

… But unfortunately, Ukraine is not yet ready; nor are its Western partners. Both are still fixated on the counter-offensive. They need to rethink Ukraine’s military strategy and how its economy is run.

Instead of aiming to ‘win’ and then rebuild, the goal should be to ensure that Ukraine has the staying power to wage a long war – and can thrive despite it.”

More details: The first point, as emphasised by The Economist, concerns the fatigue and exhaustion of the Ukrainian military, as well as the need for maintenance of equipment: routine repairs, reliable supply of artillery and training.

In addition, a prolonged war will require better air defence, and not only in Kyiv.

“Ukraine cannot thrive if Russia blasts infrastructure and civilians with impunity, as it has for the past 18 months.

Kyiv is a surprisingly vibrant city because it has effective defences against non-stop aerial attacks. The same set-up is needed for other cities, which is why squadrons of F-16s and more missile-defence systems are essential.”

More details: Economic recalibration in Ukraine is also needed. The Economist emphasises that it is necessary to plan less for post-war reconstruction and concentrate on increasing production and capital now.

Even as the war continues, Ukraine’s economy needs to move away from relying on aid and towards attracting investment. Ukraine has a lot of potential, whether it’s producing more weapons or processing more of the agricultural produce it grows. The challenge is to entice more local and foreign businesses to invest and to encourage more Ukrainians to return to the country’s western, safer regions.

The long-standing corruption in Ukraine needs to be driven down further, with a focus on making the judiciary just and impartial. And more needs to be done to facilitate doing business, from recognising qualifications that refugees have obtained abroad to providing businesses with war insurance.

All this requires political will from both Ukraine and its friends in the West.

In particular, The Economist asserts that Europe should provide Ukraine with as many weapons as the US does.

Quote: “The stakes [for Europe – ed.] could hardly be higher. [Ukraine’s – ed.] defeat would mean a failed state on the EU’s flank and Mr Putin’s killing machine closer to more of its borders.

Success would mean a new EU member with 30 million well-educated people, Europe’s biggest army and a large agricultural and industrial base.

Too many conversations about Ukraine are predicated on an ‘end to the war’. That needs to change. Pray for a speedy victory, but plan for a long struggle – and a Ukraine that can survive and thrive nonetheless.” 

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