Sunday. 6/3/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Stuck in the mud

One element of this horrendous war against Ukraine that has captured observers’ attention is the Russian military convoy approaching Kyiv, (writes Benno Zogg). Or is it actually approaching, considering that it’s barely moved for days? The situation on the ground is still clouded by the “fog of war”, so getting an adequate picture is inherently messy. What does seem clear is that the siege and missile barrage of Ukrainian cities, including Mariupol, Kharkiv and Kyiv, has intensified this weekend as the Russian army continues advancing along the Black Sea coast, in eastern Ukraine and around the capital Kyiv. But the advance is slower than the Kremlin’s playbook foresaw, thanks to logistical setbacks and the incredible Ukrainian bravery and resistance.

The 60km-long convoy of Russian trucks, tanks and missile launchers outside Kyiv epitomises many aspects of this war. Some of the vehicles were destroyed by Ukrainian attacks; some came to a halt due to fuel shortages and malfunctions. One also wonders about the morale of Russian troops manning these vehicles, some of them conscripts, all sent into a war that they cannot call a war. Or perhaps the convoy is part of a second bloodier phase, which will involve more Russian equipment thrown in and the war carried further into Ukraine’s cities. The reality is that these vehicles are all lined up like sitting ducks but that, without more Western support, Ukrainian air and missile forces are in no position to destroy them.

Image: Shutterstock

Starting from this striking image of a convoy outside Kyiv, on today’s live episode of Monocle on Sunday, we sought to make some sense of the situation in Ukraine. Reuters’ Rob Cox pointed out that the first casualty of war is always the truth, highlighted by the Kremlin’s push to ban any war reporting that doesn’t follow its line to the letter. But while the Russian people are fed propaganda, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is winning the international media war, said Monocle editor in chief Andrew Tuck.

The truth is also that a very real battle for Kyiv is pending, with heavy fighting already on the outskirts of the city. Lada Roslycky, founder of Ukrainian defence consultancy Black Trident, suggests that the convoy is part of a huge psychological warfare operation, waiting without the defenders of Kyiv knowing when it might attack and designed to break Ukrainians’ will to fight. As for the West, though the fog of war may be clearing a little, we’re left trying to anticipate Putin’s next move and the extent of the resources we have available to counter it. The convoy might remain still or it might move forward; it looks unlikely to shift into reverse.

Listen to Monocle 24 throughout the weekend for regular updates on Ukraine and tune in to ‘The Globalist’ at 07.00 London time tomorrow for additional perspectives on the conflict.


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