Commentary: What are the prospects for peace, six months after Russia invaded Ukraine?

BIRMINGHAM: Wednesday (Aug 24) marks six months to the day Russian President Vladimir Putin gave orders to launch what he referred to as a “special military operation” against Ukraine.

It is also Ukraine’s Independence Day, celebrating the day its parliament declared separation from the Soviet Union in 1991, months before the USSR officially collapsed.  

Six months into the war, the two sides have fought each other into a stalemate – both strong enough to prevent the other from winning, but not enough to achieve a decisive victory on the battlefield.

After initial territorial gains, Russia was set back by logistical problems and Ukrainians determined to resist invaders. It withdrew from around Kyiv in end-March, re-deploying troops to the Donbas and consolidating control along the Black Sea coast.

Since then, Russia has managed to occupy all of the Luhansk region but has made comparatively little progress in the Donetsk region. Ukrainian counteroffensives around Kharkiv in the north and on the western bank of the Dnipro river in the southern Kherson region have made some progress since the end of May.

But there has been no major breakthrough that would signal an imminent collapse of the Russian war effort.

Could this signal a potential return to negotiations?

SOME NEGOTIATION BREAKTHROUGHS WITH TURKEY’S MEDIATION

The last time the two sides had meaningful, albeit ultimately inconclusive negotiations on ending the war was in late March and early April in Turkey, facilitated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish mediation, however, has continued to remain important. In end-July, it successfully brokered a deal to restart Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports that had been blockaded by Russia.