Russian leader Vladimir Putin's goal is to put the war in Ukraine until next year's US presidential election, then to see what transpires, according to security expert and Eesti 200 MP Kalev Stoicescu.
Stoicescu, who chairs the Riigikogu's National Defense Committee of the Riigikogu, adds that the West has not been tough enough enough on Russia so far has acted as an encouragement to Putin.
The 2024 U.S. presidential elections are set to be a very important milestone in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine, he added.
Appearing on ETV show "Ukraina stuudio" Monday, Stoicescu said: "I see it that Putin's Russia is clearly pursuing the goal of holding out until the U.S. presidential election to see what happens, to see who the next U.S. president will be."
"It is clear that the U.S. is the main player in the military aid being given to Ukraine, while those European countries that are doing the same is down to the fact that the U.S. is providing aid. If the U.S. were to fall away from this, I can't imagine how the European countries would continue to provide military aid to Ukraine to the extent that they have been, at sufficient levels for Ukraine. So U.S. assistance is absolutely key," he said.
Stoicescu said that Putin is likely awaiting the return of Donald Trump, the previous POTUS, after the election in 2024.
"That said, we also don't know what to expect from Trump," Stoicescu went on.
"He has said that were he president now instead of Joe Biden, the current war would never have happened. We don't know what he means by that, maybe he means that he would have served up Ukraine on a plate to Putin, or struck some other deal, I have no idea."
"But the next year to 18 months will be a critical period. So it is my hope that Ukraine's breakthrough in the land corridor [linking occupied Crimea to Russian territory] will happen now, since then this war will reach its decisive phase," Stoicescu continued.
Ukrainian intelligence reported Monday that Russia is apparently preparing for a new wave of mobilization. Stoicescu noted that Russia needs personnel under arms, if it wants the war to continue.
"Obviously, they need hundreds of thousands of men, and we see that even women, too, are being taken from the prisons, to the front. So this 'biomass' – if you could call it that, as it's a very cynical term, but unfortunately it applies to Russia – well, they need this, without it they can't succeed."
"The most important aspects are that Putin wants to maintain his apparent stability and normality, to demonstrate to his people and to the world that his regime is unshakable, that Russia can withstand everything, including Ukrainian drones, Western sanctions," Stoicescu added.
According to Stoicescu, what gives Putin hope for the continuation of the war is that Western sanctions have not been tough enough.
"The most important question for me is that despite the fact that Putin's main goal, i.e. defeating Ukraine and showing the West its place, has not been fulfilled – leaving aside the fact that Putin obviously does not want to lose; from his perspective a stalemate is also a loss, hence the unwillingness to negotiate – is what gives the Putin regime and his supporters in Russia any hope at all of continuing this war."
"Something has to provide Ukraine with hope, and we see that Ukraine is not giving up its own hopes; the West is not going to end its support for Ukraine. In this sense, too, there is no chance that we will then say, ok, Ukraine has received enough support for now," Stoicescu said.
"I think this hope relates to the fact that we haven't been tough enough on Russia, including in the economic sphere. These sanctions, and all the sanctions packages, when taken as a whole, are like Swiss cheese, in my opinion," the expert went on.
"Maybe I'm being too critical , but this is my opinion as I see it. They are trying to plug these holes here and there. But we see how those remaining are being used, not only by Russian companies, but also by Western firms. There is a lot to think about here."
The West clearly says that it must not cooperate with Russia until Russia loses the war, but on the other hand, there is the obvious lure of money. "Unfortunately, that's how it works. In many ways, Russia has managed with its types of ersatz import schemes, and everything else it has used," Stoicescu concluded.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Ukraina stuudio', interviewer Epp Ehand.