while much of the world’s media has been fixated on the UK and the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the coronation of her successor Charles there has been a week of potentially game changing events in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian army’s stunning counter offensive in the north east of the war torn country certainly hasn’t been ignored by the western media but, arguably, the sheer scale of the victory and the humiliation of the Kremlin may have been missed by many amid the blanket coverage of the British monarch’s death.
Put simply Ukraine’s army and Government have delivered a master class in battlefield tactics that has taken not only the Kremlin but also even the most optimistic of western military experts by surprise.
Following a brilliantly choreographed disinformation campaign that led Russia to move vast swathes of its forces to the south a lightning week long assault has seen Ukraine retake much of the territory in the north east that it lost in the early months of the war.
Far from the grinding deadlock that many experts had foreseen the battle for Ukraine now looks set to move into a new decisive phase with Ukraine’s military now on the offensive and Russia’s front line forces in both disarray and real jeopardy.
The approaching winter will almost certainly slow the Ukrainian advance and lead to a period of stalemate but Ukraine’s successes in recent days have led to a renewed confidence that Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s troops can not only beat Russia but that they could do it next year.
Such optimism may still prove to be misplaced – Russia will hardly take the Ukrainian counter attack lying down after all – but it was utterly unheard of just a few weeks ago.
What is certain is that Russia and Vladimir Putin are, for the first time since they launched their illegal invasion last February, on the back foot.
The Russian media has begun asking questions about Russia’s tactics and even trenchant Kremlin allies like Chechnya’s thug in chief Ramzan Kadyrov are expressing concerns.
Russia’s battlefield difficulties also look to have emboldened its opponents in other parts of Putin’s sphere of influence. As Ukraine struck its blow against Russia Azerbaijan launched an unexpected attack on Armenia breaking the terms of a Russia n brokered ceasefire between the two bitterly rival nations.
In the greater global context it was a relatively small conflagration but it suggests Russia’s reputation and influence in the region have taken a significant battering.
And then there’s Ukraine itself. Not only is the north eastern counter attack still proceeding but the diversionary assault in the south is also reaping dividends though at a far slower pace. There is also growing evidence that a partisan Ukrainian resistance is beginning to enjoy greater success behind enemy lines. Kyiv, it would appear, has much reason to be confident.
The war likely has a long way to go but for the first time there is genuine reason to believe it may not be the protracted, decade long conflict many had initially feared. The world can only hope.