According to a recent report by The Economist, Ukrainian society is showing signs of fatigue over the ongoing conflict with Russia. The heavy losses suffered by Ukrainian troops during the summer counter-offensive have contributed to a somber public mood. The conflict is increasingly perceived as a war with no end in sight, leading to a reluctance to continue paying the high cost in both treasure and blood.
The article points out that those who were initially eager to fight volunteered long ago, and the government is now recruiting mostly unwilling soldiers. This sentiment is echoed by an activist supporting the troops, who commented that the air in Ukraine has become so thick with the cost of prolonging hostilities that even hoping for success in the counter-offensive has become an act of self-destruction.
The weariness and desire for a ceasefire are not limited to the public; they are also shared by the soldiers on the front lines. An interview with a sniper, Konstantin Proshinsky, went viral in Ukraine earlier this month. He claimed that his fellow troops would be fine with a truce with Russia.
Proshinsky further criticized President Vladimir Zelensky’s goal of retaking all land claimed by Kiev, including Crimea, as self-gratifying populism. He expressed doubt that the army would march to Kiev to topple the government if given the opportunity.
The Russian Defense Ministry has reported over 43,000 Ukrainian battlefield casualties during the counter-offensive as of early August. Despite these casualties and the ongoing conflict, Kiev has taken an uncompromising stance on talks since last year, allegedly due to a US order to abandon a draft peace agreement and continue fighting. Russian officials have accused Western powers of using Ukraine as a proxy in a war against Russia.
The fatigue and reluctance to continue fighting demonstrate the challenges faced by the Ukrainian government as it tries to maintain support for the conflict. The public’s declining willingness to fight, along with the dissatisfaction among soldiers on the front lines, may pose significant obstacles to the government’s determination to keep fighting.
As the conflict drags on, it is crucial for the Ukrainian government to address the concerns and fatigue of its society while also considering the well-being and morale of its soldiers. A resolution to the conflict that satisfies both the public and the soldiers will be key to moving forward and achieving stability in the region.