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Ukraine risks becoming a “failed state”

A Ukrainian soldier looks at a destroyed bridge near Kharkiv. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty

The backlash to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made it look as if Vladimir Putin had “massively miscalculated”, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. But after several months, the “grimly relentless logic” of war seems tilted in Russia’s favour. After a “humiliating start”, its military is now on the safer ground of artillery-led attrition warfare. It has conquered more than a fifth of Ukraine, including critical industrial and agricultural regions, and begun to “Russify” the territory it controls. Kyiv’s economy is in freefall and casualties are mounting among its courageous young men and women. If it can’t launch a successful counter-offensive this summer, “Ukraine risks becoming a failed state”: impoverished and permanently divided.

Soaring oil and gas prices give Moscow not just the means to keep financing the war, but substantial leverage over Kyiv’s European allies. Across the West, inflation is surging while living standards are plummeting, which doesn’t exactly endear citizens “to make real and profound sacrifices for a foreign country”. Ukraine’s biggest booster, Boris Johnson, is on the way out, as is Italy’s Mario Draghi; Germany faces a choice this winter between heating its homes or running its factories. This invasion “has wrecked Russia’s future economic prospects”. But in the short term, conditions are ripe for “some kind of settlement” that Putin can call victory.