What if they were right? What if it wasn’t just the need to believe in the victory which made the Ukrainian leaders say that their country would win the war and already this year?
We don’t know. The fate of arms is by definition so uncertain that any prophecy is risky, but the fact is that there are now five reasons to think they may not be wrong.
The first is that Vladimir Putin now seems lost, moody and totally unable to communicate any confidence that his armies will win. Last week, the only thing he managed to instil in his ministers and Duma members was such profound boredom that several of them fell asleep listening to him. His speech went on and on and on. It was like Brezhnev resurrected and the President of the Federation was no longer saying that everything was going “according to plan” in Ukraine but that progress would be made “step by step”. If the words make sense, it meant that Russia would progress as it could.
This man had dreamed himself Peter the Great, but around him, Prigozhin and others are insulting each other and they are at each other’s throats as if he were no longer there or no longer mattered. A scent of the end of the reign is rising above the Kremlin and it is there, in this citadel, that the outcome of this war that Ukraine has not yet won but that Vladimir Putin has already lost could ultimately be played out.
The second reason why the Ukrainian prophecy may well come true is that Joe Biden, by going to Kiev, did much more than send a gesture of solidarity to the struggling Ukrainians. In front of the world and the United States itself, he declared that America was committed to not letting Ukraine lose this war. It has been said . It has been said, by an 80-year-old man who did not hesitate to make the difficult journey to proclaim this and thus make a possible defeat of Ukraine an unacceptable defeat of the world’s number one power.
The third reason tending to justify the Ukrainian leadership is that the European Union will now buy ammunition together. With ever-increasing speed, the Union is asserting itself as a political power for which the war in Ukraine has become the baptism of fire.
The fourth reason why this war may indeed not become an endless war of positions is that 141 of the UN countries, nearly three quarters of its members, called on Thursday for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops. It is not only on the battlefield that Vladimir Putin is bogged down. He is also losing his footing on the diplomatic front, and as for the fifth reason why the Ukrainian leaders might not be wrong, it is nothing less than a Chinese one.
Because it too can see that the Kremlin will not prevail and that this war, in the meantime, is reducing the international trade on which its economy and political stability are so dependent, China has just reminded Russia to respect the territorial integrity of states. China is not giving up on Russia and will not do so, but it is not following it in this war, which it would like to see ended as soon as possible.