Can Ukraine break through again?


Ukraine’s continued progress is by no means assured.

There is no indication of a mass withdrawal from Russia and Russian troops have continued to attack Ukrainian positions and pound Ukrainian towns and villages. In areas where Ukraine has had the advantage, the Russian military can find a way to dig in, hold the front and wait for winter, when the ground freezes and the advance is more difficult. After a period of faster maneuvering, the fighting could slow down and fall back to a war of attrition, with Russia willing to destroy populated areas with artillery pushing back Ukraine.

But Ukraine’s recent successes have reshaped both the politics of war and the battlefield. It now seems less likely that Western countries would withdraw military aid to Ukraine, which has proved essential. Meanwhile, Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin faces unusual criticism at home over the military’s recent losses — and concerns from Xi Jinping, the leader of China, Russia’s most powerful partner.

In this climate, Russia’s central problem – a lack of trained, motivated fighters – is not easily solved. Mr Putin’s announcement on Wednesday of a “partial mobilization” of people with military experience, which would call up about 300,000 soldiers, could complement Russia’s armed forces. But the quality of the new recruits is unclear and it can take months to organize and deploy them, limiting the direct effect on the battlefield.

While still considered unlikely, it is now possible to imagine continued Ukrainian successes could lead to the collapse of Russia’s morale and ability to fight, wrote Rochan Consulting analyst Mr Muzyka, Monday.

“It is no longer science fiction to think that the war will end in a matter of weeks, months, not years,” wrote Mr Musyka.

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