Tanks, mercenary convicts and imminent offensives look set to decide battlefield developments as the war in Ukraine nears its first anniversary. But when 2023 comes to an end, the conflict’s fate may be decided elsewhere: by votes not just in the United States but in Russia, too.
While domestic issues will dominate next year’s U.S. presidential election, how Americans vote could have a profound impact on the country’s policies on Ukraine and Russia. It’s not only the American presidential election that is on the horizon: Russian President Vladimir Putin is also set to go to the polls in 2024.
After stamping out and, in the case of leading opposition leader Alexei Navalny, imprisoning viable opposition movements and figures, victory for Putin is pretty much guaranteed in 2024. But in order to achieve an indisputable victory in the polls, his military will have to achieve unquestioned success on the battlefields of Ukraine.
On Wednesday, a senior Ukrainian official warned that hundreds of thousands of Russian troops were massing on the border ahead of an expected offensive. These numbers could reach 500,000, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.
“We do not underestimate our enemy,” he said on French television. “Officially they announced 300,000, but when we see the troops at the borders, according to our assessments it is much more.”