AFTER half a year of launching a blitzkrieg invasion of Ukraine, Russia now ostensibly appears to be, as per majority of the Western analysts, sinking deeper into this quagmire, as Ukraine's resistance has forced Russia's military to a virtual standstill and its image as a fighting force is "shattered" for the time being. Western analysts are trying to portray Russia's military as an ill-disciplined fighting machine that is equipped with obsolete weapons and supported by an antiquated supply chain and logistical support. Their main argument is that despite six months of fighting, the Russian military, with a horrendous lack of command and control at lower levels, has not been able to move beyond the Donbas, an area which was occupied by the Russian forces in the first few weeks of the invasion.

This argument apparently sounds valid when viewed from the backdrop of the "paralytic halt" in the Russian territorial invasion of Ukraine since March. But the fact is the Russian military is not as "inept and incompetent" as being projected by the Westerners. With Donetsk and Luhansk predominantly under Russian control and a large swath of southern Ukraine also under Russian occupation, the question is what constitutes a "loss" for Ukraine and its Western supporters and where will they draw the line?

Yes, discipline in Russian military units is reported to be at an all-time low. Russia has in six months lost more soldiers than the USSR did in nearly a decade of its attempt to invade Afghanistan. It is also true that there are major supply chain and logistical hindrances that are drastically impeding the ground operations of the Russian army. But, writing off the Russian army altogether as a useless war machine is a little too unrealistic. To move further inside Ukrainian territory and then maintain its control, the Russian army needs massive logistical support that is technically very difficult to execute as it will put inordinate financial pressure on the Russian economy, which is already being subjected to stringent possible international sanctions. Vladimir Putin, knowing well about these limitations, seems to be content with 20 percent of Ukrainian land in the southern and eastern parts of the country — perhaps this was the primary objective of his attack on Ukraine. Further invasion of Ukrainian territory is not viable for Russia at the moment — tactically and financially.

The unexpected resistance exhibited by the Ukrainian government and its people has surprised both the Russian government and Western countries. Russia has been paying an acutely high price in the form of thousands of soldiers dead as well as colossal material loss — including a large number of planes and helicopters, and hundreds of armored vehicles. On the other hand, in their efforts to push back the Russians, Western countries have intensified their military, political and economic support to Ukraine. The prime objective of the Western countries is to ensure that Russia incurs even greater losses with each passing day in this war. Ironically, however, for all their similar reaction to the Russian invasion, the implication of the invasion will be quite different for different Western countries. While Washington is taking full advantage of the Ukrainian crisis, the European countries are paying a very high price in different ways.

First, the European countries are inordinately dependent on Russian natural gas and oil. With the war in Ukraine lingering on without any endgame in sight, European gas and oil prices are skyrocketing and wreaking havoc on their economies. Soon, it will begin to aggravate the cost-of-living crisis throughout the continent — the heat of this looming crisis can be felt in the form of growing anxiety on the streets and roads of the European continent.

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Second, after the Russian attack, millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes to seek refuge in other European countries. Although, for the time being, almost all European countries are showing high-octane generosity in accepting the Ukrainians, in the mid to long term, the refugee problem will definitely hit the already dithering European economies even harder.

Third, in view of the ever-growing Russian threat, European countries will be compelled to expand their defense budgets, putting further pressure on their economies.

The United States, however, it seems, is the least affected country by the situation arising out of the Ukrainian crisis. In fact, the US is a major beneficiary. Unlike European countries, the US is not dependent on Russian gas and oil. Therefore, it has much deeper pockets at its disposal to sustain a large-scale war. The second benefit provided by the Ukraine episode to the US is the revival of NATO, the future of which was in complete disarray until the Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border in the last week of February. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US found the best possible opportunity to consolidate and revive the fading NATO alliance. The pace with which the new Nordic members, Finland and Sweden, were inducted into its fold, is a testimony to the vulnerability of the European countries in the face of a big war on their continent. The Ukraine invasion has inversely consolidated the transatlantic security alliance under the leadership of Washington. In addition to resuscitating NATO from its chronic lethargy, the United States has also utilized the evolving situation to its advantage by increasing its military presence in Europe. Hosting large numbers of US troops in normal circumstances would not have been a welcome step for the Europeans, but in their urge to safeguard against any possible Russian aggression, now they have readily allowed the US to station more than 100,000 troops on their soil — the highest number of US soldiers in Europe since the World War 2. So NATO is back and the US is back.