Ten months after Russia launched its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine on February 24, the fighting continues.
Complications and challenges
Fierce fighting is being reported daily on many fronts, but especially in the four regions which Russia has annexed–Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.
The Russian army recently launched UAV and long-range missile attacks on the electric grid and other energy infrastructure in major cities, threatening millions of Ukrainians with a severe energy shortage this winter.
The West keeps supplying modern heavy weapons to the Ukrainian army and has pledged to maintain its aid long-term.
The continued fighting means millions of Ukrainians and tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides will be unable to reunite with their families for the coming Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The international community has repeatedly urged Russia and Ukraine to reach a ceasefire for Christmas and New Year. Pope Francis made the most recent appeal on Wednesday. Earlier in the week Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia should withdraw its troops before Christmas.
But it’s unlikely there will be a ceasefire. At a press conference on Wednesday in Moscow, when asked whether Russia would consider a Christmas ceasefire if Ukraine proposed one, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "There is no proposal like that from anyone. The topic is not on the agenda."
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday that "just given what we're seeing in the air and on the ground in Ukraine, the war is not likely to wind down before year's end."
Despite a less than optimistic outlook, the international community still believes there is a chance for peace talks to end the conflict.
One thing to encourage that belief was an exchange on Wednesday of hundreds of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine. Russia returned 65 prisoners to Ukraine, including an American citizen. The number of Russian prisoners returned by Ukraine has not been announced.
Everyone can see that the longer the fighting goes on, the greater the losses for both sides, no matter who the eventual winner may be. To reach a ceasefire, all parties will need to increase their level of goodwill.