The first lessons from the year of war. The worldʼs leading media about the war on February 9

Anton Semyzhenko


Although the anniversary of the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine is still two weeks away, foreign media are already starting to publish the "lessons" and "conclusions" of the first year of the great Russian-Ukrainian war. On February 9, the influential edition of Foreign Policy published a list of six lessons from this war from Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University. His first conclusion is that state leaders can be very wrong. Putinʼs mistake is the standard proof of this statement: he did not think that Ukraine would resist the offensive and that this resistance would matter, he did not think that the West would come to the defense of Ukraine and give up the Russian energy needle. However, Western leaders, in particular American presidents, have also made mistakes. Believing that economic cooperation can pacify the Russians, they missed the moment when this country turned into an aggressor. Moreover, they conditioned their significant dependence on her. The second lesson is that modern wars can last a long time. The West has grown accustomed to this: for example, the last military conflicts in which the United States participated were characterized by sharp outbreaks of confrontation, rapid movement of troops and dynamic development of the situation, which most often ended with a parade in the conquered capital. However, this applied to wars where the West was opposed by third-rate economies and military powers. But Russia is a player of another level. She will come out of this war much weaker economically and militarily regardless of whether she wins or loses, but the fight will be tough until the last day. Waltʼs third conclusion from the year of the war is precisely under such conditions that the states of the world form coalitions, formal or not. Such a coalition was formed around Putin — he is supported by Iran and North Korea. A significantly larger coalition was formed in support of Ukraine — the combined GDP of its members is 20 times greater than the GDP of Russia, and the military power is also significantly greater. In numerous smaller conflicts, such coalitions were not formed — in a war of such a scale, this turned out to be a natural process. However, the fact that Ukraineʼs allies have a lot of high-quality weapons and they generously share them with Ukraine is not a guarantee of its victory. Walt writes about this in the fourth conclusion. Victory will be ensured by a complex of factors, and armed support alone did not help, for example, to defeat South Vietnam. The fifth thesis is that if the West had not been so persistent in expanding NATO, the war might not have happened (Walt does not mention the colonial nature of Russia and the history of its attempts to conquer Ukraine). And the last, sixth conclusion is devoted to the role of leaders. If Russia — even intimidated by the expansion of NATO and with imperial ambitions — had been ruled not by Putin, but by someone else, perhaps open war would not have happened, the author believes. If Donald Trump and not Joe Biden were leading the USA, it would be difficult to say how events would unfold and what the world would be like today. "And if the president of Ukraine was Petro Poroshenko, would he have succeeded in rallying the Ukrainian people and Western societies in the struggle, as Zelensky did? Doubtfully so," suggests Walt.

The Reuters agency dedicated an article to the work of Ukrainian partisans. Her journalist managed to communicate with a group of four underground members who opposed the Russian occupation of Kherson. One of them, known by the pseudonym Dollar, monitored the activity of the Russian military in the local Ninel hotel. When it became clear from the number of guards that FSB representatives were there, he informed the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Soon the hotel building was gone — at least seven occupants were destroyed. The partisans told Reuters about how they convinced the residents of Chornobayivka to help the Ukrainian army, how they hung Ukrainian symbols in the city and communicated with each other. According to Reuters interlocutors, similar partisan units are now actively operating in the temporarily occupied Melitopol, Tokmak, Mariupol and Swatove.