Winter is Coming — and the Ukraine War Has Stalled
Author: Greg Valliere
November 3, 2023
THAT ASSESSMENT CAME from a top Ukrainian general this week. “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough,” said Gen. Valery Zaluzhnyy the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, in an interview published Wednesday. His comments stirred quite a buzz in Washington, where Congress is debating more aid for Kyiv.
WITHOUT A SUDDEN BOOST in technological superiority, the stalemate may persist, Zaluzhnyy told The Economist. Ukraine’s armed forces “need key military capabilities and technologies to break out of this kind of war. The most important one is air power,” Zaluzhnyy wrote in a separate essay for The Economist
THE VIEW IN WASHINGTON is that without major new arms, Ukraine is unlikely to push Russia out. Ukraine had reclaimed half of the territory seized by Russia since 2022 but Kyiv has only advanced about 10 miles since the counteroffensive started in the summer.
THE GENERAL’S COMMENTS stirred a hornets’ nest in Washington. “It naturally raises the question: What exactly is our endgame strategy?” war critic Josh Hawley said. “What’s the plan here? I don’t think they have a plan.” the Missouri Senator said. Congress obviously has other priorities — Israel, Taiwan, the U.S. border, etc.
DESPITE THE STALEMATE, the war has had a devastating impact on Russia — young men fleeing, the economy in terrible shape, Moscow now a pariah, and most importantly — at least 250,000 Russian troops dead or wounded. Putin hardly has won this war.
THE LIKELIHOOD OF A PROLONGED STALEMATE, lasting at least into next spring, has prompted speculation in both countries about a truce that would return much of battered eastern Ukraine to Kyiv. But there’s no consensus on the prize — Crimea — which eventually may have to be partitioned, like North and South Korea.
BUT NEITHER SIDE SEEMS WILLING TO ACCEPT A COMPROMISE: After suffering enormous civilian casualties, the Ukrainian public would revolt if a truce doesn’t give Ukraine virtually ever square inch lost since Russia invaded.
AND PUTIN IS WILLING TO TAKE MORE CASUALTIES as he waits out the West, which he believes will lose its resolve. We think a major aid package for Ukraine is still likely this winter, but patience in Washington is wearing thin as other priorities emerge.
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