The Kremlin seems to be Ukraine’s most reliable ally. Although Western countries actively supply the Eastern European nation with all kinds of weapons, had it not been for incompetent Russian leaders and greedy oligarchs who have strong ties with the West, the Ukrainian Armed Forces would have suffered a significant defeat a long time ago.
By Nikola Mikovic
It is an open secret that Russia is one of the most significant donors of weapons to Ukraine. During the first days of the war, Russian soldiers were deserting en masse, abandoning dozens of tanks, fighting vehicles of infantry, and other military equipment. That is how the Kremlin – whether consciously or not – started arming Ukraine months before the West decided to “raise the stakes” and provide Kyiv with modern, sophisticated weapons.
In September, during the Kharkiv offensive, the Ukrainian forces captured over 200 Russian military vehicles and large stocks of armament. It was the most significant gift that Moscow gave to the Ukrainian army. Previously, in July, Russian and Ukrainian representatives signed a deal to free up Ukraine’s grain exports.
In other words, the Kremlin de facto gave up on its plans to seize the strategically important ports of Odesa and Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. Also, amid the war, Russia allowed its opponent to export its grains and stabilise them freely.
To this day, the Kremlin continues selling natural gas to its European partners through Ukrainian territory, paying Kyiv transit fees. Moreover, Moscow aims to resume ammonia exports through a Ukrainian pipeline, which would allow Dmitry Mazepin – founder and former majority owner of major Russian fertiliser producer Uralchem – to earn a few billion more. For some, war is death; to others, it brings wealth.
It is not surprising that hundreds of thousands of Russian men have fled the country since President Vladimir Putin declared a partial mobilisation in September. Indeed, very few people are ready to die so Putin and his oligarchs can continue selling gas and ammonia to their Western partners.
Another reason why many Russians refuse to participate in Putin’s so-called special military operation because they suspect that the Kremlin is actively helping Ukraine win the war. For instance, despite sanctions, Russia remains a crucial supply link for earth metals from China to the European Union.
Russia is at the centre of a rail cargo route supplying Western arms manufacturers with rare earth elements needed to make the microchips, electronics and ammunition used in modern weaponry. In other words, the Kremlin helps the West to produce sophisticated weapons that will sooner or later end up in Ukraine.
Further, although pro-Kremlin propagandists insist that Russia is at war with the United States-dominated NATO alliance, Moscow continues investing in US government securities. According to reports, in November 2022, the total volume of investments of the Russian Federation in US government securities increased to $2.092 billion, which indicates that the Kremlin, despite harsh rhetoric, still sees Washington as an essential partner rather than an archenemy.
The US, for its part, will undoubtedly continue arming and funding Ukraine, aiming to prepare the war-torn nation for another large-scale offensive. Since the Russian leaders also seem to be keen on helping Ukraine, the US Department of Justice announced its plans to begin transferring part of the confiscated assets of the Russian Federation to Kyiv.
More importantly, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is expected to donate £2.3 billion to Ukraine soon. In early March 2022, he said he was selling his English soccer team Chelsea FC and would donate all net proceeds to victims of Russia's war in Ukraine.
On March 24, the Kremlin admitted that Abramovich was early in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Some believe that Putin personally approved the oligarch’s involvement in Moscow’s peace talks with Kyiv.
The fact that Putin never fired Abramovich for his pro-Ukrainian positions indicates that the Russian President tacitly approves of the billionaire's actions. Thus, Ukraine cannot lose the war. It is supported by the United States, the most powerful country on Earth, the European Union – the world’s largest economy–and the Russian leadership. Under such circumstances, Kyiv’s victory seems to be a matter of time.