As the Russia-Ukraine conflict drags on, five essentials will exert great influence on the development of the conflict in 2024, namely Russian and U.S. presidential elections, Western assistance, the prospect of peace talks, Black Sea situation and Western sanctions against Russia, said a Chinese scholar.
Despite signs of fatigue in the U.S. and Western aid to Ukraine, this conflict will be prolonged, said Sun Zhuangzhi, director of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,at a seminar on major international issues held recently in Beijing.
The ongoing Ukraine crisis will enter its third year in late February this year ahead of the upcoming of Russian and U.S. presidential elections scheduled for March and November respectively.
Noting that the Russia-Ukraine conflict itself is a tragedy caused by the geopolitical games among great powers and the result of the confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, Sun believed the domestic political trends of the two countries will determine the development of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Sun noted that Western assistance is another factor to affect the conflict. He explained that Ukraine is in dire straits right now, with nearly half of its fiscal expenditures having to be paid by the West. With the decreasing assistance from the Western countries, Ukraine has no choice but to depend on itself to find a way out.
Speaking of the peace talks, Sun noted that although Ukraine and Russia carried out their largest prisoner swap since February 2022 on January 3, the crisis is still escalating, which means the prospects of peace talks are still bleak.
Underscoring the important role of Black Sea situation, Sun said that the Black Sea region will become the focus of competition between Russia and Ukraine in 2024.
The last factor lies in the sanctions against Russia. In Sun's view, the West has fewer sanction options. On the one hand, it hopes to weaken and hit Russia as much as possible, but on the other hand, the trump cards it could play are increasingly limited, Sun added.
Besides these factors, Sun said both Russia and the West regarded the conflict as a war around the Europe, adding that they are reluctant to see the conflict get out of control, otherwise no one can bear the consequences.
The seminar, held by Xinhuanet annually, gathered together renowned scholars and experts of international relations to engage in vibrant and in-depth discussions on global issues.