“Russia is never as strong as she appears, and never as weak as she appears.” This aphorism, the authorship of which is attributed both to Churchill and Metternich, quite accurately captures the situation that has developed on the battlefield between Russia and Ukraine at the end of the second year of the war.
It seems safe to say that the Ukrainian counteroffensive, on which both Kyiv and the West pinned hopes for a quick, victorious end to the war, did not deliver the desired results. As far as can be understood, its planners expected to solve strategic problems by breaking through the Russian line of defense, reaching the Sea of Azov (Melitopol), cutting off supplies going over land to Crimea and gaining the opportunity to hit the Kerch Bridge with artillery.
In the spring and summer, the main operations took place in the Mariupol and Melitopol directions. Ukraine failed to achieve decisive success in either one. Ukrainian troops managed to penetrate the Russian defenses but were unable to break through them. It is unlikely that the current attempts by Ukrainian forces to gain a foothold on the left bank of the Dnieper in Kherson Region will radically change the situation either.
The same can be said about the stalled Russian counteroffensive in the Donbas. Thus, currently neither Russia nor Ukraine has the strategic initiative. By winter, the front line will most likely be stabilized definitively, with the fighting becoming positional. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny said as much in an extremely frank article
in the The Economist
.What led to the stalemate
The failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive could clearly have significant consequences for the course of Russia’s war against Ukraine. In particular, disappointment in the Ukrainian army threatens a reduction in military assistance from the West. For instance, due to objections from Hungary and Slovakia, the EU was unable
to agree on the allocation of EUR 50 billion in aid to Ukraine for the next year.
Likewise, right-wing Republicans in the US House of Representatives are blocking
a $60 billion military aid package to Kyiv.