With Russia’s attempted blitzkrieg of Ukraine bogged down after almost a month, the threat of an ongoing stalemate looms in which Russia will pound away as Ukrainians remain unable to push Russia out of their nation.
“Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial campaign of this war,” the Institute for the Study of War said in a new analysis, according to a report Sunday in The Washington Post.
The analysis called the war “a stalemate,” and that will mean even more danger to civilians.
Stalemate might turn “very violent and bloody,” the assessment said, because Russian bombardments will destroy cities.
“I don’t think Ukraine forces can push Russian forces out of Ukraine, but I also don’t think Russian forces can take that much more of Ukraine,” Rob Lee, a former U.S. Marine infantry officer who is now a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told the Post.
The Post cited what it called a “widely shared analystis” from retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges and Julian Lindley-French, who chairs the Alphen Group think tank in the Netherlands, that said the war had reached a critical juncture.
“The Russian war of conquest in Ukraine is now entering a critical phase; a race to reach the culminating point of Russia’s offensive capacity and Ukraine’s defensive capacity,” Hodges and Lindley-French wrote in the March 14 analysis. “That is why it is vital the West reinforces Ukraine’s capacity to resist and why Russia has started attacking supply bases through which Western lethal aid is passing. The next week or so could prove critical.”
They wrote that Russia’s invasion has been plagued with errors from the start.
The 21st century warfare as it is. pic.twitter.com/YG4UleDiLg
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) March 20, 2022
“The moment Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border a large gap appeared between the scale and quality of the Russian forces needed to maintain offensive Russian military momentum and the force available given the capacity of Ukraine’s capacity to resist and the space in which to conduct defensive operations on their own terrain,” they wrote.
“The result is becoming increasingly self-evident for a poorly-planned and executed Russian military campaign in which incompetence marches side-by-side with costly but stalled momentum with Russian forces forced to adopt a campaign of attrition against Ukrainian civilians for which they are not designed. Attrition warfare requires time, manpower, ammunition and resources. The Russians are rapidly running out of all three which is why they are recruiting Syrians,” they wrote, noting that sanctions are hampering Russian efforts to resupply.
.@TheStudyofWar now assesses that Ukraine has “defeated the initial Russian campaign in this war” and that Russia no longer has the forces to take Kyiv and other major cities to force a change of gov’t. ISW believes war will likely descend into “a bloody stalemate.” –@Reevellp pic.twitter.com/W0QlgNV5bG
— Gio Benitez (@GioBenitez) March 20, 2022
Hodges and Lindley-French wrote that Ukraine’s military has performed well.
“Reinforced by Western real-time intelligence and advanced anti-air and anti-tank munitions the Ukrainians have been able to maintain a mobile defense hitting Russian formations when and where it hurts. However, this heroic defense has come a great cost to Ukraine’s embattled regular forces and the many irregulars who have joined the fight.”
But they noted that Russia is hardly defeated.
And the reactions of Ukraine’s supporters are going to make the difference.
“What must the West now do? First, accelerate and expand the delivery of capabilities and weapons specifically intended to help Ukraine destroy the land and sea-based artillery, rockets, and cruise-missile launchers that are land-based and sea-based platforms. This means more intelligence, more counter-fire radar, more long-range systems, more ammunition, and more anti-ship, and naval mines,” they wrote.
Hodges, now with the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis, told the Post in an interview that Russia’s existing efforts are running out of time.
“I believe that Russia does not have the time, manpower or ammunition to sustain what they are doing now,” he said.
Lindley-French, told the Post that Russia can adjust tactics and added, “It would be a big mistake to think that Russia cannot sustain this war.”
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