According to security expert Christian Mölling, the chances of the Ukrainian offensive in the south of the country being successful have improved significantly. Mölling says in the stern podcast “Ukraine- die Lage” that taking the place Robotyne is “not yet a strategic gain, but it’s a big step forward”. The decisive factor now is whether it is possible to widen the breach into the Russian-occupied territory. That also depends on whether the Russians can muster enough reserves to man the rear defense lines. Apparently there are big problems.

The research director of the German Council on Foreign Relations expects the Ukrainians to have about two months before the weather makes major movements impossible. “Then it becomes static,” he says. Much is gained “if one manages to expand the wedge so far to the south that one can keep the entire land mass up to the Sea of ​​Azov under artillery fire”. This would then also make it more difficult to supply the Russian troops in Crimea. “I think that’s realistic,” emphasizes Mölling. However, given the minefields and fortified defenses, the task remains difficult.

According to Mölling, it is important for the Ukrainians to get so close to the Crimea that they can shell large parts of the peninsula with artillery – that is, without having to rely on scarce and expensive cruise missiles from the West. Then things would get uncomfortable for the Russians, “so they may have to withdraw at some point.”

Mölling is not very confident that democratic conditions could emerge in Russia after the end of Putin’s rule. He predicts that if Putin were ousted, new violence would follow. Nobody should expect “that this system of violence and rule can easily be transformed”. So far, the system has “worked with potential for violence”. So with the possibility of violence that you haven’t called off. “Now it’s being called off, both externally and internally.” This could certainly lead to a new balance – “at a level at which all the forces of violence in the Kremlin have balanced themselves again.”

Mölling sees the prospect of such a course of war as one of the reasons for the Ukrainian leadership’s new indications of a solution for Crimea. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had indicated that demilitarization could also be an option. In his opinion, this could be politically enforced if the Ukrainian army advanced to the administrative borders of Crimea. Mölling says that demilitarization has the advantage that Crimea does not have to be conquered at a loss, but can be liberated from the occupiers in other ways. In addition, Kiev is trying to counteract the impression that it is only pursuing maximum demands. “It is quite normal to always keep an eye on the international discourse and the sensitivities of your partners because you simply depend on their support,” he says. However, the expert has little hope that the conflict over Crimea can finally be resolved: “The Kremlin is not giving up its desire to continue owning Crimea. This story is not over.”