What happened on day 100 of the war in Ukraine

A hundred days ago, before sunrise, Russia launched artillery strikes on Ukraine before sending troops rushing to major cities, sparking a war against a much smaller and more numerous country. than the army that seemed destined to quickly overthrow the Kyiv government.

But the brutal invasion shattered those predictions, reawakening old alliances, testing others, and wreaking death and destruction across the land. The two armies are now engaged in fierce and bloody battles on a 600-mile-long front for control of eastern Ukraine and to gain the upper hand in the conflict.

The winner, if there is one, is not likely to emerge even in the next 100 days, analysts say. Some predict an increasingly intractable struggle in eastern Ukraine and a growing confrontation between Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and the West.

New Western weapons promised to Ukraine — like the long-range missiles announced by President Biden this week — could help him reclaim some cities, which would be important for civilians in those areas, said Ian Bremmer, president. of Eurasia Group, a political risk advisory organization. But they are unlikely to drastically alter the course of the war, he said.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Pressured by tougher Western sanctions, Russia, he said, risked retaliating with cyberattacks, espionage and disinformation campaigns. And a Russian naval blockade of Ukrainian grain is likely to worsen a food crisis in poor countries.

“What we’re looking at now is what the war in Ukraine will probably look like in 100 days, not radically different,” Bremmer said. “But I think the confrontation with the West has the potential to be much worse.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defiantly declared on Friday that “victory will be ours” and noted overnight that 50 foreign embassies had resumed “full-fledged activities” in Kyiv, a sign of the fragile return to normality in the country. capital city.

Nevertheless, more than three months into a war that has radically changed Europe’s security calculus, killed thousands on both sides, displaced more than 12 million people and sparked a humanitarian crisis, Russian forces now control a fifth of the country – an area larger than the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg combined.

Asked during a briefing with reporters what Russia had achieved in Ukraine after 100 days, Dmitry S. Peskov, the presidential spokesman, said many populated areas had been ‘liberated’ from the Ukrainian military , which he described as “Nazi-minded”. doubling down on a false narrative the Kremlin used to justify the invasion.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday that the invasion had caused destruction that “defies belief”, adding: “It would be difficult to overstate the toll that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has taken on civilians. in the last 100 days”.

Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

More than 4,000 civilians have been killed since February 24, according to UN estimates. Ukrainian authorities place the death toll much higher.

The war also triggered the largest exodus of refugees to Europe since World War II. More than 8 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced and more than 6.5 million have fled to other countries, according to the United Nations.

Half of Ukrainian businesses have closed and 4.8 million jobs have been lost. The UN estimates that the country’s economic output will drop by half this year. Ninety percent of the population is at risk of falling near or below the poverty line. At least $100 billion in damage was done to infrastructure.

“We may not have enough weapons, but we are resisting,” said Oleh Kubrianov, a Ukrainian soldier who lost his right leg fighting near the front line, speaking hoarsely as he was lying in a hospital bed. He still had shrapnel lodged in his neck. “There are many more of us, and we are motivated and convinced by our victory,” he said.

Indeed, a recent survey found that nearly 80% of Ukrainians think the country is “going in the right direction.”

“The idea of ​​Ukrainian identity has broadened,” said Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian writer, describing national sentiment. “More people feel Ukrainian, even those who doubted their Ukrainian and European identity.”

Credit…Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

Russia, too, is suffering from the invasion, geopolitically isolated and facing years of economic dislocation. Its banks have been cut off from Western finance and, with oil production already reduced by 15%, it is losing energy markets in Europe. Its industries are grappling with growing shortages of basic materials, spare parts and high-tech components.

Finland’s and Sweden’s decisions to abandon more than 70 years of neutrality and seek NATO membership underscored the disastrous strategic costs of the invasion for Russia.

Big Western companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Nike have disappeared, apparently to be replaced by Russian brands. The impact will be less noticeable outside major cities, but with the departure of almost 1,000 foreign companies, some consumers have felt the difference as stocks have collapsed.

While existing stocks have kept much of the country spinning, Russia will soon have much more of a Soviet feel, returning to a time when Western products were non-existent. Some importers will make a fortune bringing in everything from jeans to iPhones to spare engine parts, but the country will become much more self-sufficient.

“In Russia, the most important economic thing over the past 100 days is that Putin and the elite have settled firmly on an autocratic and isolationist path, and the elite and the wider public seem supportive,” he said. Konstantin Sonin, Russian economist at the University of Chicago.

“It seems that the course is set, and it will be difficult to turn back even though the war ended miraculously quickly,” he added. The next step will likely be a return to more centralized economic planning, he predicted, with the government setting prices and taking charge of the allocation of some scarce goods, especially those needed for military production.

The war also reverberates globally. Macky Sall, President of Senegal and Chair of the African Union, on Friday called directly on Mr Putin to free Ukrainian grain as countries in Africa and the Middle East face alarming levels of hunger and starvation. .

Credit…Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

At a press conference with Mr Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Mr Sall also blamed Western sanctions on Russia for deepening Africa’s food crisis.

“Our countries, although they are far from the theatre”, declared Mr. Sall, “are victims of this crisis on the economic level”.

Tens of millions of people in Africa are on the brink of hunger and starvation.

On Friday, Chad, a landlocked country of 17 million people, declared a food emergency and the United Nations warned that almost a third of the country’s population would need humanitarian aid this year.

For now, peace in Ukraine seems far from in sight.

The skies around Sievierodonetsk, the last major city in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine still under Ukrainian control, were heavy with smoke on Friday as the two armies traded blows in a fierce battle.

Ukrainian troops were moving heavy guns and howitzers along the roads towards the front line, pouring men and armor into the fight. Russian rockets hit an area near Sievierodonetsk late Friday afternoon, landing with multiple heavy explosions audible from a nearby village. Missiles streaked across the skies from Ukrainian-held territory towards Russian positions.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Bruno Tertrais, deputy director of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research, said the two sides could get bogged down for months or years in a war of “positions” rather than movement.

“It’s not a bad scenario for Russia, which would keep its country in a state of war and wait for fatigue to win over the West”, writes Mr. Tertrais in a newspaper for the Montaigne Institute. Russia would already win to a certain extent, “by bringing the occupied regions under its control for a long time”.

Nevertheless, Mr. Tertrais believes that a gradual material and moral collapse of the Russian effort remains more likely, given the low morale of Russian troops and the general mobilization of Ukraine.

Amin Awad, the UN crisis coordinator for Ukraine, said whoever won the conflict, the record was “unacceptable”.

“This war has and will have no winner,” Awad said in a statement. “On the contrary, we have witnessed for 100 days what is lost: lives, homes, jobs and prospects.”

The report was provided by Carlotta Gall, Dan Bilefsky, Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Cassandra Vinograd, Elian Peltier and Kevin Granville.

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