Suddenly the West was surprised at the possibility of Ukraine defeating Russia, expelling it from its territory and defending their country from the aggressor. It took some time for everyone, even Moscow, to admit that the great Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kharkiv area had brought results and that it was the biggest turning point in the 200-day war. But where does the surprise come from when faced with the option, which was opened by a large Ukrainian military operation, that the end of Russian aggression and the victory of Ukraine is approaching and probably as a consequence, a debacle in the Kremlin?
American portal The Atlantic, from Ukraine, provides a detailed analysis, followed by an assessment of the development of military and political events under the title – “It’s time to prepare for the victory of Ukraine”. On the same day, Washington Post talks to Francis Fukuyama on the same topic, and reminds that in mid-March he was convinced that Ukraine would win, and asks him, six months later and after the Ukrainian counteroffensive, if he is still convinced of that. “The Ukrainians will continue to crush the Russians. It’s hard to know exactly how long it will take. But I don’t think it will be long”, the professor from Stanford is convinced.
Indeed, Ukrainian liberation of a huge territory from Russian occupation was a surprise for many, especially for those who do not closely follow the course of war; perhaps they were “sleepy” during summer stagnation, in which neither side made progress on the ground. It was a surprise to some that Russian troops retreated quickly, with casualties and leaving behind a large collection of weapons. It’s as if they didn’t understand, even after half a year that this was nowhere near the “second-best army in the world”, as they called themselves. But after almost seven months of just and unwavering fight against the aggressor, should anyone be surprised by the possibility that Ukraine will be the final winner?
At this place, exactly six months ago, at the same time as Fukuyama in the Washington Post, we estimated that the Ukrainian victory in the war against Russia was inevitable. Under the title The Day after Putin, and less than a month after the beginning of the aggression, we estimated that Putin should be excluded as a factor from any future calculations on the international political scene. We estimated that it was futile to invest any hopes and expectations in partnership with him hoping to benefit from that partnership after the Ukrainian aggression. “It is inconceivable that the Ukrainian crisis will end, in any way, with the return of Vladimir Putin to the international arena as an acceptable partner and equal interlocutor”, we wrote in mid-March.
Yes, the world should really be ready for the Ukrainian victory and the liberation of this country from Russian aggression. If the world was not ready at the very beginning, then the moment is approaching, because the offensive in the Kharkiv area clearly showed that a turnaround was underway, and that the sequence of events on the battlefield is certain. This success of the Ukrainian army is not a final victory, there will probably be more swings of the pendulum, but the direction of the war should now be visible to everyone and no one has the right to be surprised by the Ukrainian triumph.
This is especially true for those countries and their leaders, who still consider Putin an interlocutor, at the very least, and essentially a political and trade partner, who may be doing something “dirty” and difficult to accept these days. But, they reckon, a truce in Ukraine will bring him back to the international arena as an interlocutor without whom no solution will be possible. They come from the most developed countries of Western Europe, and exist among the members of the EU and NATO, even in America, not to mention Turkey or the Balkans.
Treating Putin as an unwanted but unavoidable interlocutor/partner is what Putin expects from others, hopes for and benefits from. No one else, except him, can profit if, even after the Ukrainian aggression, he remains a factor “asked” about anything on the world stage. Not even Russia will benefit from it, only Putin, but it seems too late for Russia to realize that.
However, it is not too late for everyone else in Europe and America, especially for some of their leaders who still do not see future architecture on the border between Europe and Asia without the participation of Vladimir Putin. Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive against Russian invaders should be the final wake-up call to such delusions, as full victory may come sooner than many are ready for. If they still have any dealings with the Russian leader, and they do, they should end them as soon as possible, because on the day when the war in Ukraine ends, The Day after Putin, we wrote about in March, will come.
Russia will declare victory in Ukraine on that day, there is no doubt about it. Russia will choose one of its numerous war goals announced so far and declare that they have been fulfilled, perhaps a victory parade will be held on the Red Square and a holiday will be declared in the country. Putin can learn a lot about this from his, equally aggressive, predecessor in warfare – Slobodan Milošević, who declared the collapse of Serbian state in Kosovo in 1999, the withdrawal of its security forces and the entry of NATO troops into Kosovo as a victory in the three-month war and the achievement of original goals. Just as Milošević’s propaganda masking of defeat did not change the reality, Putin’s future “triumph” will not hide the fact that Russia was defeated in Ukraine and is ostracized from the world, isolated and condemned to failure. If he even thinks that some future “Victory Day” is real.