With the Luhansk region under Russian control, President Vladimir Putin may now focus on seizing all of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine before offering a cease-fire, a defense policy analyst told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday.
“Putin [may] offer the potential for a cease-fire if only to give him[self] an opportunity to fortify the gains that he’s managed to achieve so far,” said Victor Abramowicz, principal of Ostoya Consulting, which advises firms in the defense industry.
Putin on Monday congratulated his troops for “liberating” the Luhansk province after several weeks of bloody fighting that took a toll on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides. A huge proportion of the area’s infrastructure, including residential buildings, has been razed to the ground. Numerous deaths have been reported.
Russian forces are now focused on capturing the neighboring Donetsk region of the Donbas, with the province coming under heavy shelling on Sunday, according to local officials.
Tough choice for Zelenskyy
Though the campaign has not gone Moscow’s way, Abramowicz said, Russia seems “almost certainly” able to achieve its more limited objectives in the Donbas. If Putin subsequently offers a cease-fire, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would be in a tough spot, Abramowicz said.
“There is no particular reason to believe that … acceptance of a Russian cease-fire will actually lead to an enduring peace,” he said, adding that this would give Russia the potential to fortify its troops and attack again in the future.
On the other hand, if Zelenskyy doesn’t accept a cease-fire, he raises “the risk of losing, potentially, in due course, some of the Western support he relies on,” Abramowicz said, adding that the choice may be forced upon him by Western leaders.
And whether Zelenskyy would accept such a cease-fire depends on how much military and financial support he feels he can receive from the West, he added.
Future of Western support
He said there would be continued Western support for Ukraine for at least another six months to a year.
The November midterm elections in the United States, which is by far the largest contributor of military and financial aid to Ukraine, would have a bearing on American support for Ukraine, Abramowicz said.
“You have to keep in mind that there is a great deal of war fatigue in America but Americans [also] have vast resources they can commit for decades,” he said, adding France, the U.K. and Germany all have differing calculations on the length of time they’re willing to support Ukraine.