Russian elite believes that now is right time to signal false desire to start peace talks with Ukraine - SAB

  • 2024-02-19
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Warfare in Ukraine has entered a new phase, becoming a marathon rather than a sprint, and the Russian elite believes that now is right time to signal false desire to start peace talks with Ukraine, the Latvian Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) said in its annual report.

SAB said that in 2024, Russia will not change its ultimate goal to completely

subjugate Ukraine, ensuring that it returns to Russia’s self-proclaimed sphere of influence. At the end of 2023, this was repeatedly mentioned by a number of Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin. 

The Russian leader stated that the goal has not changed, and Russia will continue to fight until Ukraine is defeated. The regime believes it has a sufficient military capacity to sustain the war in the long term. Therefore, Russia’s current strategy is to wage the war until Ukraine is no longer able to resist.

SAB reported that Russia’s future military plans, including attacks, will be determined not so much by the objective reality as the regime’s perception

thereof. Putin’s regime is currently convinced that the West is tired of the war and not ready to support Ukraine in the long term, while the Russian forces are decisively winning. This is why the Russian elite believes that now is the right time to signal a false desire to start peace talks with Ukraine, which would allow Russia to end the war from a position of strength. 

Meanwhile, Russia wants to gain time to rebuild its military forces, not to freeze the situation in Ukraine. Even if a truce were to be achieved, Russia would resume an even stronger attack on Ukraine after regaining its strength. The Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015 is a fitting example of a false truce proposed by Russia: the Kremlin achieved a partial freeze of the conflict until it had sufficient military capabilities to launch a full-scale war across Ukraine.

SAB said in its report that Russia is both capable and determined to sustain hostilities in the long term. The 2024 State Budget boosts the largest military spending in the Russian history – approximately one-third of the budget will

be spent on the military. Russia has mobilized its military-industrial complex, with some of the industries already being able to outproduce the entire European Union. 

Moreover, in the coming years, Russia also plans to expand its army, which, among other things, includes increasing its presence towards Europe, especially Northern Europe and the Baltics.

Ukraine is already in a critical need of the Western military and political support, but over the next year Western aid may become a matter of existential importance. Even though Ukraine is able to maintain its defensive positions, no increase or even a decrease in the military support over the next year would significantly deteriorate its combat capabilities.

Decreasing Western support for Ukraine could mean not only a significant Russian military superiority over Ukraine and the occupation of new territories, but also destruction of the already significantly wounded security architecture of Europe. Without a substantial increase of the Western support for Ukraine, Putin’s regime will gain confidence in its ability to influence the West. This might further increase Russia’s imperial appetite, while the Russian army will have gained enormous combat experience, including fighting against the Western military equipment. Together with the planned expansion of the Russian army, this will significantly increase the risk of a potential Russian military aggression against NATO, SAB said in its report.