Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine and Russia-Ukraine war has been going on for three months now, and the Russians have accomplished nothing. The United States government now anticipates a war of attrition, with neither side able to achieve a military victory. It is still not apparent how the war will end.
The Invasion Failed (Russia-Ukraine war)
Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24 from three directions. They came in from the north (through Belarus), the south (by Crimea), and the east. The Russian military’s multipronged strategy indicated that it intended to rapidly seize Kyiv, overthrow the democratically elected government, and occupy at least the eastern two-thirds of Ukraine.
To put it bluntly, in Russia-Ukraine war the Russians lost. The end of March saw their soldiers advance to the outskirts of Kiev before turning around and retreating. Following three weeks of forward momentum, the Russian army’s drive toward Odesa stalled around Mykolaiv. Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine and is located only 25 miles from the Russian border. In May, Russian forces invading Kharkiv were forced back after entering the city’s outskirts.
Midway through May, the remaining of the Ukrainian soldiers capitulated, giving the Russian military full control of Mariupol after a long and arduous struggle in Russia-Ukraine war. Mariupol, a city whose inhabitants spoke primarily Russian and of whom over half were of Russian ancestry, was completely levelled by weeks of Russian shelling and bombing.
Following their defeat in Kyiv and the north, Russian forces have refocused their attention on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. After six weeks of fighting, they’ve made some headway, albeit at a high price, against resolute Ukrainian forces.
Many experts in the field of defense wonder if the Russian armed forces are on the verge of becoming a spent force, unable to launch any major offensive operation due to high casualties, significant equipment losses, low morale, and inadequate logistics in Russia-Ukraine war. Russia’s armed forces have a hard time replacing casualties because the Kremlin hasn’t declared a full mobilization. The United States believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is digging in his heels and that there is no realistic road to negotiations in the near future. Instead, they anticipate a battle of attrition in which both sides suffer heavy losses without winning the conflict outright.
Seeking the future
No one believes Russia can conquer Kyiv and half or two-thirds of Ukraine, hence Ukraine has already won. As people return, Kiev is starting to feel normal again. Regardless of the outcome, Europe will have a free and sovereign Ukraine.
After that, intelligent guesses are difficult. Russia has scaled back its invasion goals to dominate Donbas. Moscow may have to cut back its aspirations in the Donbas, dominating Luhansk but not Donetsk. Russian military has defended locations in southern Ukraine.
During Russia-Ukraine war as the West ships more weapons to Ukraine, its forces have launched effective counterattacks and built a strong mobile defence. To evict the Russians from the region they’ve captured since February 24, it would be tough to switch from defensive to offensive posture. If true, the Russian military would gain some defensive advantages.
The most likely conclusion is a long-lasting military stalemate.
One way to terminate Russia-Ukraine war is through negotiations. In March, for instance, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered to put aside Kyiv’s dreams of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and embrace neutrality, suggesting he was open to compromise on critical questions. However, his Russian counterpart passed up the chance to guarantee a neutral Ukraine and possibly additional rewards.
That could end up being a lost opportunity for Moscow. After a period of softening in March, Ukrainians’ stances toward negotiations have stiffened since then. That’s because more and more people are trusting in the prowess of the Ukrainian military, and because of the anger caused by Russian war crimes like the wanton destruction of Mariupol and the tragedies in Bucha and Borodianka. Zelenskyy’s ability to negotiate and contemplate concessions is very probably constrained by the public’s fury.