How to win the hot war in Ukraine and the cold war that will follow it (The Economist – February 23, 2023)

After a year there is so much to mourn. The dead, on both sides. The living, scattered across Europe by Russian missiles. The world’s poor, struggling to buy bread. But, addressing his nation this week, Vladimir Putin was unrepentant.

Ukraine’s allies can congratulate themselves that they have done their part to counter Mr Putin’s remorseless assault—though, with its courage and resolve, Ukraine itself deserves most credit. They have converged on two principles: that Ukraine must win, and that it is for President Volodymyr Zelensky to define what victory means. When he visited Kyiv on Tuesday, President Joe Biden was living proof of America’s commitment.

Yet even the worthiest principles have a way of wearing thin, as Mr Putin well knows. He believes that the West will tire and, with the possibility of a new American president in 2025 and stronger backing from China, he may yet be proved right. His speech this week made clear that he is mobilising Russia for a war that—hot or cold—could last a generation.

In the fighting and in the long years of the heavily armed stand-off that comes afterwards, Ukraine will prevail only when Mr Putin—or, more likely, his successor—concludes that further aggression would gravely weaken him at home.

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