Fighting Could Stall in a Bloody Stalemate: Analysts

Analysts see offensive going nowhere while Russia keeps attacking Ukraine cities and civilians
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2022 10:40 AM CDT
Russia, Ukraine May Settle Into a Bloody Stalemate
A man recites a poem in downtown Lviv, in western Ukraine, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

With the Russian battle plan a failure but Ukraine unable to defeat the invasion, the fighting in Ukraine could be nearing a stalemate, analysts say. Ukraine won the first round, the Institute for the Study of War said Saturday—frustrating Russia's "airborne and mechanized operations to seize Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, and other major Ukrainian cities to force a change of government in Ukraine," Axios reports. Other experts see it the same way. "I don't think Ukraine forces can push Russian forces out of Ukraine," said Rob Lee of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. "But I also don't think Russian forces can take that much more of Ukraine."

But a stalemate is not going to feel like success for Ukraine, analysts said. Russian troops are digging in outside Kyiv and other places, resupplying and reinforcing their front lines, the institute said, per the New York Times. Their sieges of cities—such as Mariupol—will exact a high toll on the surrounded Ukrainians as Russian forces keep shelling them, adding the use of long-range rockets against other infrastructure and targets. "Stalemate is not armistice or ceasefire," the institute's report said, adding that stalled Russian forces would "continue to bomb and bombard Ukrainian cities, devastating them and killing civilians." Major World War I battles including the Somme were stalemates, the report points out, that stayed that way.

Russian leaders seem to have realized their predicament, looking elsewhere, including China, for military equipment and fresh troops. "Just that they’re talking about resupply and re-sourcing tells you they are beginning to get concerned about longevity here," a US defense official said, per the Washington Post. Heavy Russian losses would drive that home. At least 7,000 Russians have been killed and possibly 20,000 injured, Western intelligence agencies estimate. That might indicate as much as one-third of the main combat force in Ukraine is lost, Lee said. "That's a huge loss, and you can't readily replace that," he said; troops can be added, but that would water down the abilities of the main force. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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