Has the tide turned for Ukraine?
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
—Winston Churchill, Lord Mayor's Luncheon, Mansion House, November 10, 1942
There is at least a glimmer of hope that in a few months, we can look back at March 7–8, 2022 as a sea change in the Russian War against Ukraine. Developments that hit the news around that time seem to indicate a dramatic shift in the Ukraine situation:
1. The Russians have modified their demands against the Ukrainians, dropping the former insistence on total surrender. Now they want only the two eastern provinces, recognition of Crimea as Russian, and neutrality for Ukraine. This is an enormous move for the Russian negotiating position.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters Moscow would halt operations if Ukraine ceased fighting, amended its constitution to declare neutrality, and recognized Russia's annexation of Crimea and the independence of regions held by Russian-backed separatists.
2. Ukraine claims that 12,000 Russian soldiers have been killed along with the destruction of a massive amount of Russian weaponry.
Russian forces allegedly lost 1,000 military personnel in a day, reaching a total of 12,000 killed in action since the fighting began 13 days ago, the Ukrainian military claimed Tuesday morning. Among those slain on Tuesday were reportedly senior officers.
The Ukrainians made a further claim of the destruction of 36 Russian attack helicopters staged at a northern Ukrainian airport. They also claim today that the Ukrainians have retaken a city that was in Russian hands.
Ukraine said on Monday its forces had retaken control of the town of Chuhuiv in the northeast after heavy fighting and of the strategic Mykolayiv airport in the south. Neither could immediately be verified.
3. While Ukraine is being massively re-supplied with Stinger (anti-aircraft) and Javelin (anti-armor) weapons, the word has come down that the Russians have run out of their version of the cruise missile.
Russian tank claimed destroyed by a Ukrainian missile (YouTube screen grab).
4. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defiantly revealed his location during a video posted to social media Monday and vowed, "I'm staying in Kyiv." I doubt he would do that if his offices could be hit by a cruise missile.
5. The bodies of dead young Russian men have not even started to come home, and Russian mothers are starting to go into action against local officials. News reports say that 12,000 more Russians have been detained for anti-war activities, and there were protests in 49 Russian cities.
6. Russians will soon have nothing to buy in the way of consumer goods, and factories will close for lack of raw materials, including gasoline. We may complain about $7.00 gas, but imagine if you could not buy it at all!
"People were in favor on [the] first day of invasion. Now they are less convinced and much more skeptical because they understand now that they are going to lose their jobs, they are going to lose their cars, their iPhones, their everything," she said. "So, let's see what [they] are going to say in a month."
7. Russians will be unable to even watch Western TV shows and movies. McDonald's is closing its 800+ restaurants in Russia.
8. Their money will become worthless in the face of Western embargoes and the devaluation of the ruble. Credit card giants Visa, MasterCard, and American Express have frozen business in Russia. Russian banks say they will use China's UnionPay system.
9. British longshoremen have refused to unload a German cargo ship loaded with Russian petroleum.
10. The U.S. Congress moved to ban the importation of Russian oil into the U.S., initially against the wishes of the administration. But on March 8, Biden announced a ban on imports of Russian oil.
11. Russian ally Belarus is having serious internal issues that prevent it from joining the Russians in their assault on Ukraine. Defections, resignations, and instability in the Belarusian military are thwarting their entry into the war against Ukraine.
12. The indiscriminate slaughter of refugees in Ukrainian towns is stirring anger in the rest of the world and in Russia as well.
13. Russian threats to cut off pipeline supplies of fuel and gas diminish in value as the weather warms in central Europe. Hard freezes are less common as we move into late March and April.
14. Finally — massive humanitarian and military aid is flowing into Ukraine to buck up the resolve of the people.