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The next stages of the war in Ukraine


3 min read

I was recently privileged to be elected co-chair of the Ukraine All-Party Parliamentary Group.

Between 1990 and 1995 I lived in Ukraine, working as a foreign correspondent. The three times I have visited Ukraine since the war began and I have been constantly reminded of both the warmth and the resilience of its people. As the Kremlin seeks to mobilise more than 300,000 additional personnel, and turn this conflict into a war of attrition, Ukrainians have shown that Vladimir Putin’s aggression only increases their determination to win.

The war in Ukraine has been a wake-up call for the West

The war thus far has been divided into stages. The first was the initial assault, and with it the sense that victory for Russia was only a matter of time. The second, the reorientation of Russian arms to the east and south following the failure to take Kyiv.

In September, the collapse of Russian positions around Kharkiv in north-east Ukraine put pay to Russian hopes on an easy victory in the east and also raised hopes that Ukraine could actually win the war – something that at times appeared to surprise Ukrainians as much as everyone else.
Since then, Russia has had a new commander and a new approach.

Russia’s strategy in Ukraine is now twofold: hold a line and destroy Ukraine’s morale by destroying its infrastructure. That is, Russia is now digging in, using tens of thousands of mobilised troops, whilst others are held back to be formed into new units. In the south of the country it has the vast river Dnipro as a front line between it and Ukrainian troops. Where troops face each other across land, Russia and Ukraine are now fighting a First World War-style war of artillery attrition and trenches.

To destroy Ukraine’s morale Russia will continue to target Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, including its electricity network, around 50 per cent of which has already been affected. This, Putin hopes, will force Ukraine to the negotiating table where Russia will demand recognition of the lands it seized in early 2022.

As co-chair of the Ukraine APPG, I want our politicians to visit Ukraine and speak to people on the ground. We also need to make sure that we continue to support Ukraine. It is, for example, still not getting the air defence that it needs. Ukraine is forced to make an agonising choice between protecting cities or infrastructure.

As Putin seeks to target the Ukrainian people and civilian infrastructure, our priority is to ensure that Ukraine has a consistent, rationalised military supply. We know that to win this war, Ukraine needs medium-range anti-aircraft missiles, tanks and armoured vehicles, and steady supplies of artillery systems and ammunition.

The war in Ukraine has been a wake-up call for the West. Putin, stripped of his dream of capturing Kyiv, will seek to stress the Ukrainian people and wage long-term economic war against Ukraine’s allies, to divide Ukraine and the West.

The United Kingdom has led the way in our support for Ukraine. The next stage of the war, possibly the most dangerous, will be the greatest test of this support. Visiting Ukraine over the Christmas period, I spoke to Ukrainian people and urged the UK government to set up the long-term plans required to keep Ukraine in the fight.


Bob Seely, Conservative MP for Isle of Wight and co-chair of the Ukraine APPG

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