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(The Organic Prepper)—Ever since the October 7 attacks against Israeli civilians, the conflict in Ukraine has largely disappeared from public view. Less than two years ago, Ukrainian flags and signs of solidarity were everywhere. What’s going on now? Are people still getting killed? Are we still arming them? Is peace being negotiated?
Early in November, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny admitted in an interview with The Economist that the war is at a stalemate. He stated frankly that Russia has three times as many men as they do, and that their technology is too similar for a huge breakthrough unless the Ukrainians are given some kind of massive technological advantage.
President Zelensky has always been insistent that Ukraine can beat off Russia, and for a long time, General Zaluzhny was, too. After the slow counteroffensive this spring, rather than admitting any difficulties within the Ukrainian military, he was quick to blame Americans, saying we were not giving him enough advanced weaponry.
But Ukrainian men are leaving as fast as they can.
General Zaluzhny also blames the huge amount of Ukrainian men avoiding conscription. Ever since the beginning of the Russian invasion, men between the ages of 18 and 60 have been forbidden from leaving the country. However, many men have taken advantage of the chaos to leave anyway. The BBC estimates that 650,000 Ukrainian men within this age group have left for Europe since the fighting began.
This data came from Eurostat, which did not specify whether those 650,000 men had legal or medical exemptions. But authorities do know that at least 20,000 eligible men have evaded conscription.
Draft dodging had been facilitated by Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government. In August, it was announced that dozens of Ukrainian officials would face criminal charges over helping conscripted men leave Ukraine.
This firing of officials has effectively stopped recruitment. The average age of Ukrainian soldiers is 43. They have 60-year-old men fighting already and are now considering removing all age limits for military personnel. Ukraine already had an old and unhealthy population. The massive loss of young life in the war is leaving the population even older and sicker. They have gotten so desperate for personnel that pregnant women are serving.
The US wants Ukraine to negotiate with Russia.
Given these dire personnel shortages, NBC reported that a group of Americans and Europeans met with Zelensky early in November to discuss what they would be willing to give up in negotiating with the Russians. Biden administration officials are openly worried that the Ukrainians are running out of forces. All the weapons in the world won’t make a difference without people on the ground to use them.
For now, Zelensky still doesn’t want to hear it. He insists that no one can make him negotiate.
However, Zelensky cannot fight the war alone. In fact, he hasn’t been fighting at all. He’s been jetting around the world drumming up money. And the man who has been managing the battlefields, as Zelensky and his wife stock up on yachts, is done.
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Just this week, Ukrainian National Defense, Security, and Intelligence member Mariana Bezhula said that General Zaluzhny should resign after he refused to submit a battle plan for 2024. Bezhula is now at risk of losing her job because she publicly complained about the general.
Redacted discussed this a little more in-depth during their November 27 episode. Between minutes 40:00 and 57:00, they describe how, when General Zaluzhny was pressed for plans for next year, he said that he would need an extra 20,000 men per month simply to not lose ground. He knows this won’t happen and, therefore, didn’t submit a plan.
There are demographic problems in both Russia and Ukraine.
It is worth noting that Russia and Ukraine both have serious long-term demographic problems. In 2005, Russia’s birth rate was 1.3 births per woman, while Ukraine’s was 1.2, both of which are far below the replacement rate of 2.1.
When Putin became president, he prioritized increasing Russia’s birthrate. The government began offering financial incentives to have children. Who knows whether it was the financial incentives or the overall promotion of family values? Either way, during the past 15 years, Russia’s birth rate has gone up to 1.58 births per woman. Of course, Putin is proud of this, but the fact remains that 1.58 is still below the replacement rate. Combine this with the fact that Russia’s average age is 43, and you have an unhealthy long-term demographic situation.
Ukraine’s situation is worse. In 2021, their total fertility rate was still 1.2, unchanged from 2005. In 2022, it dropped to 0.9. While numbers aren’t in for 2023 yet, it’s expected to be 0.7.
The Ukrainians have almost completely stopped having children and I say that without any judgment. I can’t imagine planning a family in their situation either. But with an average age of 40.8, they are facing a demographic collapse.
Europe wants the conflict to end, too.
It seems to me that both sides have every reason to cut the losses of their young men, and perhaps that’s why Putin just moved the world’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, the Yars, closer to Europe. Russia is now able to strike London in less than five minutes. Maybe he hopes this will make the US and EU pressure President Zelensky to negotiate.
The overall desire for Ukraine to end the conflict has been increasing, with or without Doomsday missiles, with or without admission from high-level officials.
Tensions are rising across Europe over the flood of migrants, both from Ukraine as well as other parts of the world. We saw the riots in Ireland over the stabbing of young children this weekend. That particular incident involved an Algerian migrant, but Ireland has been overwhelmed by migrants in general the past few years. The massive amount of Ukrainian refugees that Ireland, a small nation, has been expected to absorb has pushed the country to a snapping point.
And Ireland’s not alone. Polish truckers have blockaded the roads that go between Poland and Ukraine. Truckers in Poland are no longer letting Ukrainians cross because Ukrainian drivers have been undercutting Polish prices. After the war started, the EU lifted all restrictions on Ukrainian carriers. EU bureaucrats think they’re just helping the people of Ukraine, but the reality is that whenever you start messing with trade rules, there are always second- and third-order consequences. Polish truckers are sick of the competitive advantage given to the Ukrainian truckers affecting their livelihood, and they’re making themselves heard.
For all the rhetoric coming from the political class in Europe, the average citizens seem burned out on the endless stream of refugees. Americans are burned out as well; while politicians can’t seem to find the money to secure our own border, they have sent $110 billion to Ukraine for its border, 96% of which has already been spent.
Peace may not be a long-term solution.
Most people, at most times, want to be left alone to enjoy their families and the fruits of their labors. And while I understand this urge to demand that politicians sit down and negotiate some kind of peace treaty, I don’t see a long-term solution. Let me explain.
Ukraine really wants to join NATO, as we all know. Jens Stoltenberg, the president of NATO, has repeatedly said that Ukraine can eventually join NATO and, in fact has even waived some of the normal requirements to make it easier for them. But he says Ukraine cannot join while it is still fighting with Russia.
Putin has made it clear, for years, that he considers NATO expansion into Ukraine to be a red line. If the Russians and Ukrainians negotiate some kind of peace agreement, for now, and then in six months Ukraine is fully accepted into NATO, what happens? Will Russia launch another attack? I don’t think it’s unlikely.
I don’t say any of this to discourage the people actually fighting. But those of us not on the battlefield should at least try to understand what’s going on. Fighting in Ukraine hasn’t stopped just because American legacy media is pushing interest in Israel right now. It’s easy to slap a bumper sticker on your car. It’s less easy to have your community absorb waves of refugees. It’s incredibly difficult to fight in the trenches.
We need to be careful about what kind of promises we make. I don’t see any quick solutions for Ukraine. But I could be wrong!
What do you think? Is the fighting between Ukraine and Russia near an end? Have world governments lost interest in supporting Ukraine? Will one of the countries take desperate steps to keep the fight going? How do you see this turning out?
Let’s discuss it in the comments section.
About Marie Hawthorne
A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.
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