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Ukraine: one year on and yet no end in sight

On Tuesday, as Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin spoke in Warsaw and Moscow respectively, the divide between Russia and the West and its allies was further emphasised. Despite their contrasting speeches, there was a common understanding that the ongoing war would not be coming to an end anytime soon.

One year ago, the Ukrainian people faced an aggressive and merciless full-scale invasion from Russia. Though Russia assumed the conflict would only last for a few days, the tenacity and resilience of the Ukrainian people, combined with support from the West and its allies, has proved to be a formidable force.

The conflict has now turned into an invasion of attrition, causing millions of Ukrainians to lose their homes, with over 7,000 civilians, including children, losing their lives. Over 100,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been injured, and the Ukrainian economy and critical infrastructure have been destroyed. The control of vital resources is now in Russia’s hands, and every act of aggression has reinforced Ukraine’s belief that this is a battle for survival. There is a growing fear that any negotiated settlement at this stage would simply provide Mr Putin with an opportunity to prepare for another assault.

While Russia’s invasion failed to meet its objectives, the conflict has had severe consequences. Mr Putin has been able to unite the Ukrainian people and revitalise and expand NATO, at the cost of his country’s economy, military, and human lives. However, sanctions against Russia have not been as severe as expected, and as an autocrat, Mr Putin is not accountable in the same way as democratic leaders. Mr Putin has been able to create an alternative reality and maintain high levels of support for the war and his presidency in Russia.

The suspension of the New START nuclear arms control treaty by Mr Putin raises concerns about the potential use of nuclear weapons. The risk of escalation is as real as it was in the early days of the conflict. The excessive use of ammunition has resulted in increased production efforts, while there are concerns about China potentially supplying arms. Countries must expedite the aid promised as half of the financial support has not yet materialised. Better coordination is also needed among allies to overcome logistical difficulties.

Mr Biden’s visit to Kyiv and his declaration of ongoing support for the Ukrainian people is a testament to our collective commitment to a lasting peace.

AOAV’s goal is to support the people of Ukraine as they strive to end this conflict.