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100 days of war in Western media: Kremlin’s narratives, Zelenskyy's selfies, and Moscow's grievances against Beijing

On the eve of 100 days of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the most well-known Western media published analyzing how the war could develop further, while at the same time repeating a number of Russian narratives that Ukrainians might get tired of fighting and want to compromise with Putin themselves.

Germany assured that it was working to reduce dependence on Russian energy products and also mentioned the reduction in exports to Russia by EU countries, including "pro-Russian" ones.

China, for its part, begins to disappoint the Kremlin because it is in no hurry to help Moscow circumvent sanctions and strengthen the military machine — here Beijing cares about its own interests.

The Page offers a digest that outlines the narratives of the English-language media and their conclusions about 100 days of Ukraine's struggle for its existence.


BBC scenarios: From nuclear war to freezing conflict

The BBC reflects on scenarios according to which the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine can develop further after 100 days of a fierce struggle against the aggressor.

The outlet gives five possible scenarios for the situation development, noting that they are not mutually exclusive.

Scenario one: war of attrition

In such an eventualityt, the war can last for months, if not years: momentum shifts to and fro as both sides make gains and losses, and neither of which is willing to give up.

Bloodthirsty dictator Vladimir Putin believes he can win with strategic patience: he is gambling on war-weariness of the West that will focus on other threats as a result.

The West, however, shows resolve and continues to supply Ukraine with weapons. Semi-permanent front lines are established. Steadily the war becomes a frozen conflict, a "forever war".

Quote"There is little prospect of a crushing operational or strategic victory by either side in the short term," Mick Ryan, a retired Australian general and military scholar, believes.

Scenario two: Putin announces ceasefire and ultimatums

Another course of events suggests that Putin will surprise the world with a unilateral ceasefire, appropriating captured Ukrainian lands and declaring "victory" for his "population."

In such a scenario, the Kremlin leader could declare that the so-called "military operation" is over:

  • Donbas is protected (from everything except filtration camps, Izolyatsia prison, humanitarian catastrophe, and destruction);
  • a land corridor to the annexed Crimea has been established.

After such a statement, Putin would begin to put pressure on Ukraine to stop hostilities.

Quote"This is a ploy which could be used by Russia at any time, if it wants to capitalise on European pressure on Ukraine to surrender and give up territory in exchange for notional peace," says Keir Giles, Russia expert at the Chatham House think tank.

Such arguments are heard already in Paris, Berlin, and Rome, but this is opposed by the United States, Great Britain, and most countries of Eastern Europe (including Ukraine itself).

So a unilateral Russian ceasefire might change the narrative but not end the fighting, the authors of the article believe.

Scenario three: Battlefield stalemate

Such a scenario suggests that both Ukraine and Russia decide they can no longer fight and start negotiations for a political settlement.

This course of events becomes even more realistic with the fact that both armies are exhausted, but then the outlet writes about what raises doubts from within the Ukrainian information front:

Quote"The price in blood and treasure no longer justifies further fighting. Russia's military and economic losses are not sustainable. The Ukrainian people tire of war, unwilling to risk more lives for an eternally elusive victory."

U.S. President Joe Biden openly admits America's aim is for Ukraine to be "in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table," the BBC recalls.

But at the same time, there may not be a battlefield stalemate for many months and any political settlement would be hard, not least because of Ukraine's lack of trust in Russia. A peace deal might not endure and could be followed by more fighting.

Scenario four: Victory with threat of nuclear war

Could Ukraine — against the odds — achieve something close to a victory? This question is raised by the outlet.

Quote"Could Ukraine force Russian troops to withdraw to where they were before the invasion?" the authors of the article ask and then quote Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said that Ukraine would definitely win this war.

Ukraine’s victory looks plausible enough: if Russia fails to capture the entire Donbas and suffers even more losses, and feels even more hit by sanctions on the war machine, Ukraine will launch a counteroffensive using its new long-range missiles.

Here, the outlet argues whether Putin will escalate in case of a defeat, using either chemical or nuclear weapons.

Quote"It seems unlikely to me that Putin is going to accept conventional military defeat when he has a nuclear option," the historian Niall Ferguson told a seminar at Kings College, London, worries.

Scenario five: New offensive on Kyiv

Russia, despite early setbacks, still plans to seize the capital Kyiv and subjugate much of Ukraine.

Theoretically, Russia could capitalize on its gains in Donbas, freeing up forces for use elsewhere, perhaps even targeting Kyiv once again.

Kyiv already admits that up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are killed daily and 500 more are injured.

According to the authors of the article, the people of Ukraine could divide: some wanting to fight on, others wanting to sue for peace (prerequisites for this are not yet around, and any phrases of the political leadership about non-returning Donbas and Crimea arise mass indignation — Ed. note).

Some Western countries may get tired of supporting Ukraine, but others may try to scare the Kremlin with testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific.

Zelensky's flight — what Putin dreamed about

CNN also published its analysis of 100 days of war. The publication writes that Putin seemed to be gambling that Zelenskyy would flee Kyiv, much as the president of Afghanistan had left Kabul. The bloodthirsty dictator also hoped that the outrage of the West would subside, and that the sanctions would be a temporary inconvenience.

Quote"100 days later, whatever plans Putin may have had for a victory parade in Kyiv are on indefinite hold. Ukrainian morale did not collapse," the author of the article states:
  • Ukrainian troops, equipped with modern anti-tank weaponry delivered by the US and its allies, devastated Russian armored columns;
  • Ukrainian missiles sank the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, the pride of Russia's Black Sea Fleet;
  • and Ukrainian aircraft stayed in the air, against the odds.

At the same time, the outlet warns that this does not yet mean a 100% victory for Ukraine that managed to:

  • kill Russian generals at an astonishing pace;
  • force Moscow to reorganize its military command;
  • and Russian casualties are shockingly high.

Russia's main direction of effort is now in the Donbas region, where things have settled into a grinding war of attrition.

Putin is probably counting on high energy prices and rising consumer prices in the West to focus public opinion not on helping Ukraine but on domestic problems, which will change the course of elections in the EU and the USA.

The Kremlin leader may also be counting on short diplomatic attention spans. At the same time, the experience of Syria shows that the war can last up to 12 years.

Ze’s selfies with soldiers and war against time

The outlet notes that Zelenskyy has been one of Ukraine's biggest assets in the information war.

The president constantly reminds in his addresses that he cannot "placate" Putin by ceding lands: the decision will be made not by him, but by the Ukrainian people.

CNN also writes about the contrast between Ze and Putin, with the Ukrainian president taking a selfie with Ukrainian soldiers in a hospital, demonstrating a humane leadership style.

https://youtu.be/nwAgg_z01-w

At the same time, beside the Kremlin dictator in an oversized white coat, wounded officers line up and stand stiffly.

By the way, here the outlet recalls the video with Putin in the hospital, which later turned out to be a staged one — the so-called "patients" who lined up beside the president of the Russian Federation are most likely officers of the Federal Guards Service or the Federal Security Service.

https://youtu.be/4XbBEf1HaKw

Quote"The deciding factor in Ukraine may be who has the time: A Russian dictator who is likely to hold power until he dies, or a Ukrainian people who are fighting for their national survival," the author of the article writes.

The West is suffocating Moscow's economy

Western sanctions are suffocating the Kremlin’s war machine, but Germany must do more to free itself from its dependence on Russia’s energy exports. This opinion was expressed by German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, quoted by The Washington Post.

Quote"The Russian economy is collapsing," Habeck is sure.

According to him, Germany has done its part in bringing about that collapse, reducing exports to Russia by 60% in March, 2022, with an even steeper drop expected when figures for April come out.

Meanwhile, among allied countries engaging in sanctions, exports to Russia plunged 53% in recent months, and those coming from neutral or pro-Russian countries dropped by 45%, Habeck noted.

Quote"Putin is still getting money but time is not working for Russia, it is working against Russia," he stressed.

In the 100 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, Western countries have tried to pull off a delicate balancing act: slash the amount of Russian oil and natural gas they import in an effort to cripple Moscow’s war effort without cutting back so much that their economies wither.

Habeck believes they had so far succeeded in the first objective: because of sanctions, Russia has lost the ability to fight certain aspects of the war including security updates for airplanes.

China disappointed Russia

Russian officials have been growing "increasingly frustrated" with China's apparent refusal to provide more support, Sky News reports.

While Beijing continues to back Russia publicly, Chinese officials are unofficially describing recent discussions between the two countries as "tense".

The thing is, China is attempting to maintain its strong relations with Russia while avoiding also being targeted by sanctions.

A source in Beijing noted that President Xi Jinping's administration was not willing to provide unlimited assistance to Moscow following the invasion of Ukraine.

Quote"We understand Moscow's predicament. But we cannot ignore our own situation in this dialogue. China will always act in the best interest of the Chinese people," a source said.

It comes days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. had not seen any significant support from China to Russia. This, of course, raises concerns in the Kremlin.


Conclusions for Ukraine

Although Kyiv is making huge strides in its information war against Russia, we see the Kremlin’s narratives seep into countries like Italy, France, and Germany, although the latter tries to avoid them, at least in public political statements.

At the same time, the European, more so, British media write that the Ukrainians themselves can ask the authorities to negotiate and demand a compromise peace because of war weariness.

Here we would like to note one thing: it is obvious that the Ukrainians are tired. But they are also not ready, after so many losses and sacrifices, to simply give Putin almost a third of Ukraine so that he can pass it off as his victory.

On the contrary, Kyiv requires even more weapons in order to hasten the victory, to prevent concessions to Moscow and freezing of the conflict.

Meanwhile, the Russian military machine is consuming the consequences of Western sanctions, and China is playing its game, not wanting to be isolated from the civilized world.

But Ukraine’s message is simple: the Russian occupiers must get out of our territory, reparations must be paid to Kyiv at the expense of the frozen assets, then we will rebuild what was destroyed, and then we will talk about tiredness. That's all.

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