Putin’s war in Ukraine is changing shape - NEDRET ERSANEL

Putin’s war in Ukraine is changing shape

The war in Ukraine is changing shape… 

And if the conclusion we draw is correct, it will only get worse. 

U.S. secretaries of state and defense visiting Kyiv for the first time since the war started, is one of the strongest harbingers of this interpretation. 

Following their meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Poland, where they spoke to the media. 

Well, what did they have to say?

  • “We will do everything we can to help Ukraine achieve its objective” 
  • “The nature of the war in Ukraine has changed. Along with this, the country’s military needs have changed as well. There is a focus on more tankers and cannons" 
  • “We believe that it is possible to win as long as the right equipment and support are available” 

As you can see, there is a “military” consensus that the nature of the war has changed. This is no surprise, as Russia’s focus on the eastern front necessitates acknowledging that the conditions are different. Their experts say it too: It seems like there will be a more conventional war. 

How will Finland and Switzerland joining NATO affect the course of the war?

The second clue concerns Sweden and Finland, two countries that refused to join any front—until now. Despite their political condemnation of Russia both before and during the war, they have now simultaneously decided to apply for NATO membership in mid-May. 

It is hard to say whether these two countries took this decision willingly. Both Helsinki and Stockholm have always been reluctant to take such radical steps. Looking at their public opinion, polls show that just a little more than 50 percent agree with this decision – and that is with the impact of the war. 

In the event that this comes to pass, it will surely affect the trajectory of the war and the crisis—and not in a positive direction. Think about it: Russia’s primary complaint before the war started was NATO’s expansion. This is the cause of the war. Now, adding another two countries to the front… 

We have no idea what might change until mid-May, but we do know that the U.S. and U.K. endorse this decision. Another matter of curiosity is how NATO members will respond to this request, but I have no hope of any serious resistance. Its “rejection” will drive the already rampant NATO debates to different boundaries. 

How will Russia respond?

As the “nature of the war on the ground” has changed, so will the format of the weapons used. This is what we glean from the statements made by U.S. authorities. Then, do we see how Russia is responding as well? 

If this is “Sarmat,” in other words, if the announcement that intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying multiple hypersonic weapons will shortly be deployed on the ground, if this is Moscow’s response to the changing nature of the war, the statement on Sunday – test shots were fired last Wednesday – shows that the timing for all is telling. 

Let us for now put aside how this new weapon, which is claimed will end all nuclear competition, will impact the war, and look at the Israeli prime minister’s telephone conversation, which occurred while Blinken and Austin were in Kyiv, with Zelenskyy… 

Israel settling in its orbit 

Israel did not stand by the U.S. in the Ukraine war. It even avoided its demands. There was nothing to do, even if Washington was aggrieved, because Israel is not a country that can be punished like the others for siding with Russia or not responding to U.S. calls. 

U.S. President Joe Biden’s call to Tel Aviv is another sign that conditions have changed. Since the start of the war, Israel did not want to risk its relations with Russia—Syria and Iran being the main reasons. Israel chose to keep the Kremlin close because of its aerial operations in Syria, the fight against Iran’s military elements, and, most importantly, because of Tehran’s nuclear deals with the U.S. 

It's no secret that the U.S. wants to end Europe’s energy dependence on Russia soon, and grant free movement to Iranian sources along this route. Therefore, it is making some concessions to Iran. One of these was the removal of the Revolutionary Guards from the terrorist organization list. Israel was outraged by this, and with that, so did the lobby in Washington. We won’t go into details in this article, but let’s just remember that it happened on the eve of Biden’s November election. 

Now there is the impression that similar concessions were abandoned, and the reason is the changes in the Ukraine war. If Israel changes its position, Iran will lose its leverage. This is another tension line, however, Tel Aviv changing its position toward Russia would signify a critical shift. 

Recall the “Iron Dome” debacle. Ukraine wanted this system, but Israel would not sell. We may see some changes both in this regard and in the Iran file. Let’s not forget Israel’s attitude toward Russia concerning “war crimes.” 

Another angle hidden in the details is whether the U.S. has sacrificed Iranian energy. However, Europe dragging its feet regarding the energy embargo against Russia seems to slightly negate the “necessity” evaluations. It needs to be considered in this context, whether the energy projects of other countries need to be reviewed as well! 

In conclusion: 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Austin’s meeting yesterday at the American base in Germany with his counterparts from ally countries – including Turkey – is another concrete development that shows that the military situation in Ukraine might change. 

The big picture shows that America has raised its hand in the war with Russia—signifying that it is stuck. That is why it is shifting gears and changing trajectory. Russia cannot turn back anyway. Weapons will become heavier, as will the crisis, delaying peace yet again. 


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