Bloodshed in Ukraine could go until 2026 as Zelenskyy pledges to retake Crimea

Bloodshed in Ukraine could carry on until 2026 given the options available to both sides, a military expert has said.

Amid murmurings that Ukraine aims to retake the long-annexed Crimea, General Sir Richard Barrons, former Commander of the Joint Forces Command has laid out the realities of the war concluding in the near future – and it doesn't look good.

“Based on the rhetoric of the protagonists and their supporters, and looking at the situation on the ground, there is no significant prospect of the war being fought to a close this year,” he told the Daily Star.

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“That would change if a political crisis in Russia unseated Putin (not likely yet), Ukraine gave up when the current counter-offensive failed and cost too many lives (neither proven nor likely) or the West turned off the material tap to Ukraine,” which he noted was also “not likely”.

Looking specifically at ambitions to retake Crimea, he added: “If Ukraine decides to take Crimea by force it will most probably take until at least 2025 to have built the forces and logistics to be good enough, big enough and resilient enough.”

Devastatingly though, he noted that the discussion about retaking Crimea was in a way an indicator of how far away the two sides are from having peace talks.

General Sir Barrons continued: “[The] most likely outcome, I think, is that in 2024, 25 or 26 Ukraine reaches a point where it feels it cannot shift any more of the Russian hold on territory militarily and is then encouraged by the West to pursue restitution by other means [like politics or diplomacy] in return for NATO membership and a multi-billion dollar or euro reconstruction effort.

“The conflict is frozen because neither side can gain more by fighting nor agree to give up. We are a long way from that now, hence the serious talk of taking back Crimea.”

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