Shocking Twist in Ukraine’s 546-Day War: Prigozhin’s Death is a Vendetta or Accident?
The war in Ukraine reaches its 546th day, eighteen months since the Russian invasion that sparked the conflict. After a year and a half of fighting, positions on the battlefield seem unchanged. The occupying forces have fortified the front, complicating Kiev’s counter-offensive. Meanwhile, both sides aim to weaken the other through aerial strikes. Despite the stalemate, there are increasing pressures for a ceasefire.
Prigozhin is dead
News emerges of the likely death of Evgenij Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner militia and a critic of Russian leadership. His plane crashes during a flight from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. Wagner blames the Kremlin for vengeance, but the official account is awaited.
Over these eighteen months, there have been massive military and civilian casualties. According to an American estimate, there have been around 500,000 dead and wounded. The intense clashes haven’t allowed Kiev a significant reconquest of territories nor have they pushed Putin to negotiate.
American and NATO military experts believe that Kiev’s offensive is ineffective. They point out that many troops, including some of the best, are not optimally positioned. Instead of focusing on cutting off Russian supply lines, troops have been divided between the East and South.
American strategists had advised Kiev to concentrate on the southern front. However, doubts persist as to why the military leadership’s recommendations aren’t being followed.
On the other side, Kiev has launched aerial attacks on Russian soil, attacks that are seen more symbolic than strategic. This strategy isn’t backed by the US, which doesn’t desire further escalations.
Zelensky complains about delays in promised weapons supplies. Some suggest the US might be hesitant to support Kiev too much for fear of a Russian nuclear response. Recent analysis indicates that while Russia might not be defeated in Ukraine, it won’t have the capacity to launch a similar operation for many years.
Moscow’s strategy is also under scrutiny. Although it might withstand the prolonged war conditions, it needs to find a solution. Prigozhin’s death strengthens Putin, but the circumstances of his death remain unclear. Some believe it might have been an accident, while others see a potential targeted killing.
A diplomatic action might be glimpsed in this phase of the conflict. Though the situation remains murky, both sides acknowledge that a definitive military victory might not be possible.