Ukraine emerges on top in first campaign of Putin’s invasion, military analysts say

Ukraine has come out ahead in the first stage of Russia’s campaign to conquer its smaller neighbor, raising the possibility of a lengthy, bloody stalemate, military analysts say.

Moscow had intended to quickly seize key Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv and Odessa to force a change in government, but that hasn’t come to pass, according to an analysis released this weekend by the Institute for the Study of War.

“Russian forces continue to make limited advances in some parts of the theater but are very unlikely to be able to seize their objectives in this way,” according to the authors of the study.

In the past, Moscow would have ended the current campaign and settled in for an operational pause to build up resources and launch a fresh attack when the conditions improved, analysts said.

“It is instead continuing to feed small collections of reinforcements into an ongoing effort to keep the current campaign alive. We assess that effort will fail,” according to the report.

The fate of the key port city of Mariupol is unlikely to free up enough Russian combat power to change the outcome of the initial campaign. The protracted siege of Mariupol is seriously weakening Russian forces, according to the study.

“The block-by-block fighting … is costing the Russian military time, initiative, and combat power,” according to the report. “If and when Mariupol ultimately falls, the Russian forces now besieging it may not be strong enough to change the course of the campaign

Russian troops appear to be digging in at their positions around Kyiv and their locations in Ukraine as they attempt to consolidate control over the areas they now occupy. A protracted stalemate will likely result in a continuing of Moscow‘s bombing campaign against Ukrainian cities, according to the study.

Ukraine‘s defeat of the initial Russian campaign may therefore set conditions for a devastating protraction of the conflict and a dangerous new period testing the resolve of Ukraine and the West,” the authors of the study said. “Continued and expanded Western support to Ukraine will be vital to seeing (them) through that new period.”

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