By Nina Bachkatov
The 24 January passed on without the anticipated Russian offensive. In the Western world, thousands of people took the streets to express solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Their leaders promised again to be on Ukraine’s side “up to the end”, “the time it will take”. In Kiev, Volodymyr Zelensky attended low key ceremonies focused on prayers for the victims and thanks to the fighters. A year after the invasion, peace seems a distant reality, an issue that will be decided on the battlefield. This conviction is reinforced by the slow effects of the economic war, with its sanctions and counter-sanctions, declared by the West to limit the Kremlin’s capacity to finance its war. Now the accent is still on broader sanctions, but the accent is back to military aspects, notably the delivery of arms requested by Ukraine to push Russians out by its own forces. In those conditions, diplomacy is relegated to the sideline, albeit some discreet channels stay open, witnessed for instance by the regular exchanges of prisoners. In fact, nobody wants to expose itself as the one that will raise a white flag, while staying on the save side by talking about the need to keep contacts with Russia.
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