August 15, 2022

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War in Ukraine | “Conflict can be dragged out indefinitely”

Guillo Chao, a Russian expert at the Center for International Studies and Research at the University of Montreal, answered readers’ questions. Press During a chat, Wednesday afternoon. Here is a summary of that exchange.

Released yesterday at 11:00 p.m.

Judith Laczabelle

Judith Laczabelle
Press

On Tuesday, as both sides talked about significant progress, the news regarding the talks was good. But the Russian shelling continued overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. What do we need to understand?

The lesson we can learn from this is that we should not rely too much on the signals we receive from negotiations. A communication exercise on both sides is clear, but it seems unlikely that negotiations will stall in the short term, as each side can still hope to gain ground gains and, therefore, not be interested in operating on a large scale. Discounts.

Should Russia accept responsibility for Ukraine’s restructuring at the end of the talks?

Russia will have a moral responsibility in this matter, but political action is not. Certainly, the question was raised in the context of the talks, but it would be very surprising if Russia agreed to reimburse Ukraine for its reconstruction costs as its economic situation deteriorates.

University of Montreal photo website

Guillaume Sauvé, from the Center for International Studies and Research at the University of Montreal

Based on the censorship implemented by its government, what proportion of the Russian population really knows what is happening in Ukraine?

It is difficult to assess. The Russians, who mainly receive news from television, will only approach the official campaign. Russians who receive the most information from the Internet – usually the younger generation – can use VPNs to access other types of information through social networks or independent Russian media (virtual private networks that avoid blocking certain sites).

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If so, what is the general opinion of Russian citizens regarding this conflict?

The three categories can be distinguished. Significant minorities are openly opposed to Russia’s war in Ukraine. It is manifested by the anti-war movement and the Great Exodus Wave. Another minority actively supports the war. Through this campaign it manifests itself, taking the “Z” symbol as a mobilization symbol. Finally, the majority of Russians, out of ignorance, indifference or intellectual contradiction, passively support the regime, without any enthusiasm for war.

Many military observers tell us about the irregularity of the Russian military, which raises surprise and suspicion. Should we question the power of the Russian military?

Considering the considerable military capabilities, it is truly astonishing to note the slowdown in Russian progress. This was partly explained by the lack of motivation of the troops and the institutional problems that could be explained by the corruption of the military and the entire Russian state. Russia should not underestimate all the reserves it still has in terms of the number of soldiers or the amount of equipment.

How ready is Russia to use nuclear weapons?

Russia has no interest in using nuclear weapons because on the one hand it can trigger an intensity, and its effects are unpredictable, on the other hand it has soldiers on the ground. Russia, on the other hand, is fully interested in raising the threat of the use of nuclear weapons to prevent direct intervention by NATO forces.

US President Joe Biden has issued bizarre statements calling for the removal of Vladimir Putin from power. Can Putin’s believers turn against him?

In the short term it seems unlikely. First, the military and security services are the base of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Second, oligarchy is obliged to enjoy their wealth and privileges for personal allegiance to Vladimir Putin. In my view, regime change can only be imagined in the medium or long term, in view of the most significant decline in the living standards of the Russian people, until Europeans completely abandon Russian hydrocarbons. .

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It has been more than a month since the Russian invasion began. How much longer can it last?

Unfortunately, I do not expect a quick solution to this conflict. As a reminder, the war in Ukraine has already lasted eight years, with Russia intervening militarily in 2014. We can see the intensification of the conflict and the fact that Russia is rooted in some of the areas it controls. In this context, the conflict may drag on indefinitely.

In collaboration with Henri Ouellette-Vézina, Press