I penned a piece months back, pondering over the future of the Ukraine war, and whether this war, which has had far-reaching implications, could end up becoming another one of those perpetual wars that are spread out in multiple parts of the globe without any sign of a resolution.
No doubt, one of the primary reasons for this predicament stems from the diminishing sway of international collective institutions and their waning involvement in direct and indirect conflicts due to the intervention of major powers. Rather than serving as the driving force behind conflict resolution, these powers have now become a participant in them. To such an extent that it has become quite challenging to find any solution to crises where the “heavyweights” hold the most significant sway.
Certain analysts contend that the Ukraine crisis is slowly but surely fading into obscurity, at least in the media. However, this crisis cannot be overlooked politically and strategically because of the involvement of major international powers and its strategic location at the crossroads of the conflict of interests between Russia and NATO.
As a result, the diminishing media attention towards the Ukraine crisis is an anomaly compared to other global crises. It is not indicative of any slackening of priority or urgency among decision-makers worldwide.
The decrease in media interest towards the Ukraine crisis can be attributed to several factors. One of them is the absence of any significant military advancements on the ground. Both the Russian and Ukrainian sides have substantially reduced their list of targets as most targets within the “permissible” range have already been hit. There seems to be an unwritten agreement to keep the conflict within “manageable” boundaries and prevent it from escalating into a third world war.
Furthermore, other military conflicts and crises have caught the attention of the global media. For instance, the sudden eruption of hostilities in Sudan between the army and the Rapid Support Forces has garnered significant international attention due to the risk it poses to citizens of many countries caught up in the fighting.
These countries are now scrambling to evacuate their nationals from Sudan. As mentioned earlier, the media is dominated by events and coverage, always seeking the latest developments and news on the global stage. This is the natural role of the media in our world today.
Events in Ukraine have been dragging on slowly, both militarily and politically, for various reasons. The Ukrainian army is trying to mount a counter-offensive against Russian forces to regain some lost territories after 14 months of a devastating war, which has claimed the lives of nearly 200,000 people, including over 35,000 soldiers, according to US estimates.
Despite the continuous flow of Western military aid, US estimates express skepticism about the success of the Ukrainian counter-attack. In fact, the truth is that the Ukrainian counter-attack plans represent the last chance for both Kiev and the West to exert pressure on Russia. Should the counter-attack fail, Ukraine’s options would be limited to the need to negotiate with Moscow, which, in turn, would require making significant concessions in the negotiations.
To put it simply, the Ukraine conflict has become more about jockeying for better positions in negotiations rather than trying to decisively win the war, something that both Russia and NATO-aligned Ukraine recognize.
As a result, progress has been slow and opportunities to achieve a clear military victory have been missed. Even Russia’s last attack in January 2022 failed to achieve its goals, including taking full control of Bakhmut after nine months of fighting, resulting in widespread destruction and displacement of civilians. Currently, Ukrainian forces are holding their ground in the city and planning a counterattack dubbed “Spring” to try and retake Mariupol and pressure Russia to reassess its stance in the conflict.
Bakhmut and other cities in Ukraine hold more weight than just their names; they represent historical symbols that date back centuries and carry great significance in military conflicts. So, both Russia and Ukraine place tremendous importance on the defense and capture of these cities.
The Ukraine war has fallen off the media radar, but it is still a hot topic for major decision-makers globally. The war remains a top priority for them because it is a critical round in the fight for international power and control, and will play a significant role in shaping the post-Ukraine world order. We are just waiting for a significant event to bring it back into the media spotlight.
Dr. Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst