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Opinion: Why Putin would want a truce

David Andelman

Editor’s Note: David A. Andelman, a contributor to CNN, twice winner of the Deadline Club Award, is a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, author of “A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen” and blogs at Andelman Unleashed. He formerly was a correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News in Europe and Asia. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.


Paris
CNN
 — 

A truce now in the war in Ukraine would essentially spell victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nine months in, Russian hopes of a swift seizure have been well and truly dashed, its army largely on the defensive across more than 600 miles of battle lines strung along the eastern and southern reaches of Ukraine.

Indeed a truce or negotiations may be the only path to victory possible at this moment for the Russian leader; his manpower exhausted and weapons supplies dwindling.

At the same time, there is a flagging will of the West that could prove equally toxic for Ukraine – and that Putin is almost certainly counting on.

“The only thing a premature truce does is it allows both parties to re-arm,” Michael Kofman, director of Russian studies at the CNA think tank and a leading expert on the Russian military, told me in an interview.

“And because Russia is the most disadvantaged now, it will benefit Russia the most and then renew the war. So all a truce buys you is a continuation of war. It wouldn’t resolve any of the underlying issues of the war,” he added.

Already, Russia is beginning to rearm, experts say. “Ammunition availability” was one of the “most determinative aspects of this war,” said Kofman. “If you burn through 9 million rounds, you cannot make them in a month. So the issue is what is the ammunition production rate and what can be mobilized?” he added.

Kofman cited available information showing that the manufacture of munitions – which have been the staples of the exchanges so far along Ukrainian front lines – has gone from two, and in some factories to three, shifts a day in Russia. This suggests that “they have the component parts or otherwise they wouldn’t be going to double and triple shifts,” he said.

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