Russia has begun taking steps to prepare for a war of attrition, running a quiet mobilization campaign and setting the stage for a protracted war.
So far, the reality of a ‘long war’ has been entertained by primarily the West, which has repeatedly entrenched its stance in supporting Ukraine, as well as their assumption that Ukraine will come out of the war as a robust, Westernized democracy capable of integration with the European Union.
Russia, however, has consistently stated it remains ‘on schedule’ in its ‘special operation’s goals,’ despite setbacks and withdrawals from crucial regions like Kyiv. The amount of materiel wasted in these attacks, and subsequent withdrawal draws incredibility to the Russian claim that these actions were ‘feints.’ Recently, more Russian analysts and lawmakers have reflected the understanding that the war would be a long war of attrition.
Despite this, Ukraine has consistently claimed that it could end the military phase of conflict before winter, assuming Western Allies provided sufficient materiel. It is possible that a short-term Ukrainian victory could be achieved by retaking southern Ukraine, after which negotiations could resume over the Donbas and Crimea. As more and more Western arms arrive, Russia’s position becomes increasingly untenable, including in Crimea. Russia’s navy has reportedly begun evacuating Sevastopol, leaving for ports in Russian territory ahead of the anticipated longer-range HIMARS being provided to Ukraine.
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