The catastrophe unfolding on the frontline in Ukraine and the stark realities behind the recently granted EU candidacy status | Dmitriy Kovalevich
During June, Ukraine experienced the fourth month of the war, which has been marked by a sharp increase in the losses of Ukrainian military personnel. Estimates of the losses vary, but at the beginning of the month, President Zelensky said that 100 soldiers were being killed every day; while Mikhail Podolyak, the head of his Office, spoke of 200 being killed daily, and the head of the Zelensky ‘Servant of the people’ party faction, David Arakhamia, announced that about a thousand were killed and wounded daily.
The daily figure reported by the Russian military is even larger. Considering that during military conflicts it is usual for the losses of the enemy to be exaggerated, while underestimating one’s own, we can conclude that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Increasing front line losses, draftees being seized from streets
Against the background of growing losses in Ukraine, about a million people have already been drafted. As a rule, these people are untrained and quickly die under massive artillery fire. The drafted Ukrainian infantrymen complain that they are used at the front as ‘bait’ for the Russian military during the counter-battery fight. Virtually unarmed, they are thrown into the front lines, waiting for the Russians to detect them with drones, and hit them with heavy artillery and aircraft, after which Ukrainian artillerymen can detect Russian artillery positions. Such a tactic in itself leads to huge losses, which are replenished due to the fact that the police began to capture males aged 18 to 60 on the streets of cities on a massive scale.
Men are literally seized on the streets, so many enterprises in the country that are not related to law enforcement agencies and defense have stopped working. Men simply try not to go outside; only their wives, daughters or mothers go to shops, pharmacies or banks.
Ukrainian border guards report that about a hundred men are caught every day trying to leave with forged documents, and about 30 more are caught daily trying to flee across the border through forests or swim across rivers. The number of those who managed to escape successfully is naturally not included in the statistics.
With this mass capture of males in June, solidarity groups have formed in every city. Using anonymous Telegram channels, citizens provide tip offs as to exactly where or on which street they see police ambushes, so that Ukrainian men who do go out can avoid these locations. Police ambushes are also monitored with the help of small drones. Many are gratified only by the fact that the police themselves are reducing in numbers – vast numbers of ordinary policemen are also being thrown into the trenches.
The situation on the ground
At the end of June, the Ukrainian military lost control over a number of cities in Donbass, in particular in the Luhansk region. Russian troops and the army of the LPR captured Severodonetsk, while the last city controlled by Kyiv in the region, Lisichansk, was surrounded. Both cities, like Mariupol, played an important role in the economy of Ukraine as industrial centres. The General Staff of Ukraine officially calls the retreat and the loss of cities “maneuverable defense.” According to the Russian military, hundreds of mercenaries from various European countries and North America fought in this area, a significant proportion of whom have been killed or gone missing.
Kyiv loses in terms of firepower, so it has to put a stake on lightly armed infantry deployed in the trenches against hundreds of powerful long-range artillery systems. The supply of Western weapons in this regard does not play a significant role. According to the Ukrainian military, they need many more heavy weapons and people, at a magnitude that exceeds both the capacity of Western countries and the Ukrainian population.
Reality behind granting of EU status
Against the backdrop of defeats on the battlefield, the Ukrainian authorities presented as their ‘victory’ at the end of June, the granting by the EU of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. By itself, this decision will not play any role for ordinary Ukrainians, but allow the Ukrainian authorities to receive large sums from the EU budget for various reforms. As Ukraine’s political scientist Ruslan Bortnik explains: “We are talking about very big money that Ukraine can count on – a ‘candidate’ fund, big sums of money. At one time, at the candidacy stage, Poland received about 80 billion euros from it – Ukraine can count on much larger sums.”
But Turkey, for example, has had candidate status for 23 years. North Macedonia and Albania have also been held in this status for many years. Commenting on the decision of the European Parliament, Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama on June 23 called it “a completely fraudulent process,” where “decisions are postponed indefinitely under far-fetched pretexts.”
At any moment, the status of a candidate can be revoked, but for the EU authorities this decision was important, precisely as a symbolic gesture, since the Ukrainian authorities, losing on the battlefield, needed at least some positive informational occasion. The main thing that is important to understand about joining the EU is that it is impossible while the country is at war. This has been repeatedly stated by European leaders. Kyiv has promised to fulfill all the conditions by the end of the year. And here it is necessary to understand that in this context, this is either just an empty promise from Kyiv, or it is ready to give up at least a quarter of its territory, unless, of course, the Russian authorities agree to this.
Irreconcilable differences, global food crisis
In June, Western leaders once again showed some disagreement about the prospects for peace in Ukraine. If EU leaders like France and Germany want an end to hostilities and sanctions as soon as possible, the Kyiv authorities are under the direct control of London. Britain’s position is the most irreconcilable, and Boris Johnson has even become the idol of Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis, as the British authorities regularly encourage them, describing the prospects for the imminent collapse of Russia and the victory of Ukraine in the future.
At the same time, Kyiv and London, in order to attract Third World countries to their side, continue to repeat in unison that the actions of the Russian Federation in the Black Sea threaten a global food crisis. Foreign ships and tons of grain are blocked in the ports of Ukraine, causing an increase in grain prices. However, in June the Russian Federation made several announcements regarding the opening of humanitarian corridors, but not a single ship left. The President of the Russian Federation said that it was not the Russians who had mined the ports. The Ukrainian side claims that the only way to unblock the ports is through military force, in effect, by attempting to draw the NATO fleet into a conflict with the Russian Federation.
In June, negotiations were held twice in Turkey, at which it was decided to open humanitarian corridors, but each time, under pressure from Liz Truss, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Ukraine refused to agree to them. In reality, Kyiv is pursuing a policy of blackmail, the purpose of which is to set the countries of Africa and Asia against the Russian Federation, seeking to isolate Russia, even through starvation in these countries. Yet, it is worth noting that such a policy has not borne fruit, and the President of Senegal and the head of the African Union, Macky Sall, called on Ukraine to clear the Odessa ports of mines in order to resume grain exports.
Regrettably, it should be noted that at the beginning of July Ukraine has not come one step closer to peace, and the global economic crisis will only grow during the coming months. The daily death of hundreds of people on the battlefield is being justified in the West as a desire to improve Kyiv’s negotiating position, although any remotely adequate military expert admits that they will only continue to get worse. Nevertheless, with the current situation absolutely nothing depends on Kyiv.
*Contributing writer Dmitry Kovalevich is a professional journalist, analyst and columnist for Ukrainia.ru, amongst other publications. His Facebook site is the go-to place in social media for information and discussion on Ukraine. Slightly edited for grammar and clarity.
Source: New Cold War