Russia

Ukraine: Putin hopes for Russian victory by 'outlasting the West'

The Russian president aims to secure victory by waiting for the West to get tired of supporting Ukraine, an author and political scientist says.

Fighting continues unabated more than 10 months after Vladimir Putin's forces invaded Ukraine, with the West continuing to provide military support totalling billions to President Volodymyr Zelensky's country.

But Dr Mark Galeotti, an expert in modern Russia, especially its security politics, intelligence services and criminality, believes Mr Putin thinks he has a chance of winning if his forces can outlast the West's willingness to respond to Ukraine.

According to Dr Galeotti, while there is still hope that the war may end this year, it is likely that Ukraine and Russia are heading into a war of attrition that will last until Putin is made to concede due to major losses on the battlefield.

"His plan is precisely to hope that he can outlast the West," he said.

"It's very striking. His New Year's Eve address, which is usually something of a warm and fluffy moment where Putin tries to put on the mantle of the benevolent father of the nation, was not only almost twice as long as usual but it was almost entirely about the war and the way he was presenting it to the Russian people as a western aggressive operation using Ukraine as its tool to grind down, divide and marginalise Russia.

"These are not the words of someone who thinks some kind of a deal is on the way or that he is willing to make any kind of concessions," said Dr Galeotti.

According to Dr Galeotti, Putin's strategy is that if he can "outlast the west's capacity to support Ukraine then he can impose an ugly peace" on Kyiv.

Watch: It is "inconceivable" conflict could end peacefully, ex-general says.

Mr Putin is wrong, though, says Dr Galeotti: "Ultimately, he will find himself forced into some kind of a deal simply because of Ukrainian progress on the battlefield."

The UK has been clear in its political support of Ukraine. As the second largest donor so far, the UK has spent £2.3bn in military assistance to Ukraine in 2022 and is committed to matching that this year.

It has also committed to training 10,000 new and existing Ukrainian personnel every 120 days.

The US is the largest provider of military assistance to Ukraine, having spent $19.3bn since the invasion in February 2022.

The European Union has also provided weapons to Ukraine. In 2022, the EU committed €3.1bn in lethal arms. This was the first time that the union had approved giving weapons to a country that is not in the EU.

The reversal of previous defence policies was also seen from historically neutral countries such as Sweden, as well as Germany which also committed to providing weapons for the first time.