Ukraine: the world after one year of war

February 24 will mark the first anniversary of Russia's full-scale attack on Ukraine. An end is not in sight: Russia continues to bomb Ukrainian positions, civilians and infrastructure, while Kyiv is defending itself with the help of Western arms supplies. More than 7,000 civilians have died in the conflict so far, according to UN figures. Commentators take stock and discuss the long-term perspectives.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

This war could go on for years

Rzeczpospolita sees a stalemate situation:

“Moscow hoped to bring Europe, and Germany in particular, to their knees by cutting off gas supplies overnight. This did not happen: Berlin will probably avoid a recession. But the West's sanctions have not led to the collapse of the Russian economy either. Last year it shrank by almost two percent, this year it is growing again. So both sides have learned to live with war - and could continue to do so for years to come.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Arms deliveries must be carefully dosed

Neatkarīgā lists what it sees as necessary objectives:

“At the moment, the world is gradually adjusting to a long-term war in the course of which, firstly, the hostilities must not be allowed to spread beyond Ukraine's borders. Secondly, significant Russian military victories must be prevented. Thirdly, a quick defeat of the Russian army on the battlefield, which could provoke a disproportionate reaction from Putin, would not be desirable. Putin will disappear. How? That's another matter. Until that moment comes the world must survive, and so the volume of arms deliveries to Ukraine must be very carefully dosed, so as not to upset the strategic balance.”

Kauppalehti (FI) /

Impact of sanctions unclear

Kauppalehti reflects on the changes in the Russian economy:

“There is conflicting information on the impact of the sanctions. Last year, Russian companies produced more oil than in a decade, the Bloomberg news agency reports. On the other hand, the Russian Finance Ministry has said that oil and gas revenues dropped by 46 percent in January year on year. ... It seems that the revenues from energy exports are no longer sufficient to cover the growing war costs. ... Russia has circumvented the export restrictions on technology by using intermediaries and found alternative technologies in China, for example.”

Lrytas (LT) /

Classify destruction of infrastructure as genocide?

Lrytas agrees with the proposal of Belgian geography professor Jan Nyssen, who researched the Tigray War in Ethiopia:

“A lot of effort has put into convincing the academic world to classify the destruction of infrastructure as genocide. So far this has not been done. Perhaps more examples are needed? ... And not somewhere far away in Africa. Lithuania has taken many positive initiatives regarding the Russian-led war in Ukraine. The aggressor must be punished, and it is to be hoped that the international courts will be involved. Lithuania could also join Mr Nyssen's efforts to have the destruction of energy supply systems in Ukraine treated as genocide.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Zelensky is a godsend

The Ukrainian president has behaved in an exemplarily statesmanlike manner since the beginning of the war, Paul Lendvai praises in Der Standard:

“The comedian and entrepreneur whose mother tongue is Russian has proven to be a boon for the state fighting for survival in the defensive war. This short man with a stubbly beard, always wearing an olive-green military uniform, has become a statesman and globally effective communicator this year. ... His recent lightning trips to London, Paris and Brussels, his speeches with great emotional power and historical symbolism confirm the impression that he himself has become a key figure in history.”

Élet és Irodalom (HU) /

Dangerous utilitarianism

US media should be wary of portraying the war as a business enterprise, economist István Dobozi advises in Élet és Irodalom:

“The Wall Street Journal, the most influential business paper, pointed out in an editorial that helping Ukraine is by no means a bad deal for America: the costs are insignificant in comparison to the benefits. ... Such cold-blooded utilitarianism on the part of one of America's leading media organs is appalling in the face of such a tragic war. ... This attitude unintentionally plays into the hands of the Kremlin's war propaganda, which repeatedly claims that Washington is delaying the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and prolonging the suffering of the war out of pure self-interest.”

Trends-Tendances (BE) /

Russia becoming China's vassal

Western sanctions are driving the Russian economy into the arms of Beijing, Trends-Tendances notes:

“Russian engineers are rapidly leaving the country. ... Russia imports two to three times as many Chinese cars as it used to, and soon, reports economist Eric Chaney, the aviation sector will also be affected. In Mao's time it was the Russians who supplied China with new technologies. Today it's the other way round - the former masters of the Kremlin must be turning in their graves. ... Putin's decision to invade Ukraine has made his country a satellite of the Chinese empire. He wanted to be bigger, stronger, more independent and freer, but in the end he has only changed masters - or leashes.”

El País (ES) /

East and South gain in significance

In El País, political scientist Luuk van Middelaar compares 2022 with 1989:

“One year after the Russian invasion, the strategic map of Europe is changing. The borders are hardening. Power is shifting eastwards. This dynamic does not sit well with the Franco-German duo but it opens up new space for key countries like Spain. ... The year 2022 should be seen as a kind of 'mini-1989'. The invasion is the biggest geostrategic upheaval on the European continent since the fall of the Berlin Wall. ... On the new map of Europe, while the East is at the forefront of defence, the South is at the centre of the energy transition. We should keep an eye on this double shift of power.”