Six months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the war has apparently settled into a stalemate. The front line has hardly moved in two months.
Casualties on both sides have been immense. In a fashion almost reminiscent of the First World War, recent advances in military technology have greatly strengthened the power of the defensive, while weakening the massed armored forces backed by airpower that in the generations after 1939 were responsible for “Blitzkrieg” style offensive victories. Hand-held anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, together with mobile artillery and drones, are now masters of the battlefield, and cause frightful losses to tanks, armored personnel carriers, ground attack aircraft and helicopters.
Nor does it seem likely that this picture is likely to change much in the foreseeable future. The factors that have worked against Russia will do the same to Ukrainian forces if they launch mass offensives. At most, Ukraine might recapture Kherson, by cutting Russian lines of supply over the Dnieper river. Russia might take the whole of the Donetsk region, thereby achieving one of the key stated goals of the original invasion; but it seems extremely unlikely that either side can gain a complete victory.
The biggest risk to Ukraine is probably that they launch an offensive that fails badly with losses so heavy that this allows Russia to launch a successful counter-offensive. Even in this case however, the gains are likely to only be limited.
Read the full piece in Responsible Statecraft.