Ukraine is making progress in its counteroffensive against Russia, reclaiming several towns in the southeast. Despite heavy losses, Ukraine’s incremental progress is defying expectations given Russia’s fortified defenses. The success is crucial for Ukraine to maintain support from western allies and to challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Steady progress: Ukraine is gradually reclaiming towns in the southeast despite facing heavy losses. This early success is defying expectations and bodes well for Ukraine’s long-term campaign.
- High stakes: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasizes the significance of the operation, stating that losing the campaign to Ukraine would mean losing the war for Russia. Pressure is on Kyiv to retake territory to maintain support from western allies and challenge Putin.
- Conflicting narratives: Putin claims that Ukrainians are suffering a catastrophic defeat, while the US and western officials remain skeptical of Russian accounts of massive destruction. The battle damage is expected on both sides, but Ukraine still possesses significant combat capability.
- Long-term offensive: The US projects the offensive to continue for several months, and western allies will continue to support Ukraine regardless of the outcome. Analysts expect a stronger push from Ukraine once soft spots in Russian defenses are identified.
- Russian challenges: Russia faces low troop morale, disunity within the military, and challenges from anti-Putin militants in bordering regions. Feuds with private military company Wagner Group and resistance to tighter control contribute to Russian operational difficulties.