A Deep Look at the Front Line May Not Bode Well for Ukraine

It's barely moved this year, and Russia may be better served by that, reveals the 'New York Times'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2023 1:55 PM CDT
This Year, the Front Line Has Barely Budged
A Ukrainian soldier carries a shell toward a howitzer on the front line in the outskirts of Lyman, Ukraine, on Aug. 15, 2023.   (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

The good news for Ukraine this year is that Russia has barely gained any new territory in nearly 10 months of fighting. The bad news for Ukraine is that its army hasn't won much land back in that same span. A comprehensive assessment of the war's front line by the New York Times reveals that it has barely moved since Jan. 1. Russia by now had hoped to have control over all of the Donbas region, while Ukraine hoped to have pushed Russian troops way back through a summer offensive. But the Times analysis reveals that less than 500 square miles of territory has changed hands this year—Russia gained 331 of them and Ukraine 143. Though a seeming stalemate might not seem to favor either side, the gist of the analysis is that it serves Russia better.

For one thing, Western allies might tire of providing aid to Ukraine in a prolonged conflict. For another, Russia has far more fighters and a much larger population to draw from for replenishments. "The whole strategy in Ukraine is for the Russians to let the Ukrainians run against those defenses, kill as many as possible, and destroy as much Western equipment as possible," says Marina Miron of King's College London. Russia, she adds, is "not losing anything by not moving forward." See the full Times analysis for maps and details. An editor at Yahoo News, meanwhile, makes the case that the term "stalemate" is inaccurate because of positive developments for Ukraine, including an attack on Russia's Black Sea fleet headquarters. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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