The Russo-Ukrainian conflict: Will the endgame be a replica of the Korean Armistice?

Christian N. Haikali

On 27th July 1953, one of the major Post-World War II armed conflicts was brought to a halt after three years of stalemate. A product of the Cold War era, the Korean conflict was ceased after the delegates of both belligerent sides, the South Korean and the North Korean side, met and signed the Korean Armistice in the village of Panmunjom in Korea, marking the beginning of the still-existing ceasefire between the two Koreas.

What was the Korean War?
Fought between North Korea and South Korea from 1950 to 1953, the war began on 25th June 1950 when the North Korean side invaded South Korea following years of hostilities between the two countries. North Korea was backed by China and the Soviet Union while South Korea was mainly supported by the United States of America and allied countries.
The Armistice was designed to ensure a complete cessation of hostilities between the two sides and of all acts of armed force in Korea until such time when a final peaceful settlement is achieved. The agreement created a border area, termed the Korean Demilitarized Zone, to separate North and South Korea, and allowed for the return of prisoners of war. However, no peace treaty was ever signed by the two sides. Seven decades on, the two Koreas remain technically at war, and are to this day engaged in a frozen conflict.

The Russo-Ukrainian War:
On 24th February 2022, the Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This was an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict that started in 2014 which saw the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula as well as major parts of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
The invasion marked the largest attack on a European country since World War II and has since culminated in a staggering loss of life and property. It is estimated that the conflict has caused tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilian casualties as well as hundreds of thousands of military casualties on both sides.
Having failed to successfully take over the capital, Kiev, during the early days of the full-scale invasion, the Russian force have since been concentrating their efforts on taking control of Ukraine’s eastern regions. They include Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
These regions have since been proclaimed a part of the Russian Federation following referendums which were carried out amid the ongoing conflict in 2022, and which were declared a sham by many major international players who have since been part of this conflict by providing military and humanitarian support to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Spring Counteroffensive:
After receiving tens of billions of US$ worth of military aid from her Western backers such as Britain, the European Union and the United States, the Ukrainian forces have managed to keep the Russian forces at bay, and have since launched their long awaited Spring Counteroffensive in early June 2023, against the Russian force along a 1000 km frontline.
However, the Russian forces had long anticipated this counteroffensive and have so far proven difficult to dislodge. The Ukrainian counteroffensive has been slow-going than expected so far partly due to strong Russian defenses which include massive defensive minefields, and tank obstacles, which have so far proved largely impregnable since the counteroffensive begun.

Current Status and Direction of the conflict:
With winter having approached, and given the little progress made in the counteroffensive, some analysts have pointed out that the war is deadlocked and the two sides are basically bracing themselves for attrition warfare. This current situation is largely attributed to the level of equilibrium reached by the two sides in terms of battlefield technologies. This includes the unprecedented significant use of Drone Technology, which makes it possible for the two sides to observe, in real time, the activities of the other and take counter measures to thwart the enemy’s plans.
This stalemate is a good analogy of what happened in the Korean conflict of the early 1950s. This could be the stage whereby opposing belligerents would have to seek a diplomatic path to end a conflict. However, with both sides unwilling to compromise, it is highly likely that any cessation of hostilities will only culminate in an Armistice and not a Peaceful Settlement, thereby leaving the two sides technically at war and in a frozen conflict for years to come as it has been the case on the Korean Peninsula.

Christian Nghiyoonanye Haikali is pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Law at the University of International Business and Economics in the P.R.C. He holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Management, & a B.Ed. Honours Degree in Mathematics and Science. He can be reached at:

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