September 29
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Ukraine is about to enter a period of maximum vulnerability as winter, Russia's traditional ally, enters the scene and the Kremlin turns the energy screw against Kiev's trembling European backers, The Telegraph writes.

On the battlefield, winter will affect both sides as it unfolds. But it is in Europe that winter will have the greatest strategic impact on the war, and Ukraine is likely to lose. As the European media becomes bored with the frosty landscape without much of a fight, attention will increasingly be focused on the difficulties at home, and the economic crisis will intensify.

In June, Russia cut gas supplies to Europe by 60 percent. Countries are pondering how to minimize the economic damage to their already shattered economies as winter approaches, including drastically reducing gas consumption by domestic consumers, for whom one of the few realistic options is to raise prices even more markedly. The ensuing massive voter discontent will focus the attention of politicians and force them to reconsider their already indecisive commitment to Ukraine and, in particular, to harsh sanctions on Russia, which have proven to have no desired effect.

Putin knows how to increase the pressure until the European countries give up. With this threat over their heads, he will manipulate the cease-fire at the G20 summit in November, claiming that peace can come if he keeps Donbass, Crimea, and the territory along Ukraine's southern coast. His message would not be directed at Ukraine, but at Europeans whose economic hardships could be alleviated.

This message will be as appealing to President Biden as it is to his European counterparts. America also suffers serious economic damage, which Biden has consistently attributed to Putin's war. His character is demonstrated in an article published last week in the New York Times. Appeasing Russia about the limits of US military support for Kiev, he wrote he would not pressure the Ukrainian government to make territorial concessions, the first time in many months that a major power leader has spoken about the prospect of concessions.

Leaders will be tempted to accept Putin's peace offer by refusing to support Zelenskyy. So far it has been said that a war of attrition is beneficial to Ukraine. It will be severely tested. Perhaps it was originally built on a false premise: Russia has generally started wars poorly in its history, but over time has been able to draw on its vast resources and manpower. And the Ukrainians are completely dependent on foreign weapons, equipment and intelligence.

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