October 1, 2022



Ukraine’s continued progress is by no means assured.

There are no signs of a massive Russian withdrawal, and Russian forces have continued to attack Ukrainian positions and strike Ukrainian towns and villages. In areas where Ukraine had an advantage, the Russian army could find a way to dig in, hold the front and wait out the winter, when the ground freezes and advance is more difficult. After a period of more rapid maneuvering, the fighting could slow down and revert to a war of attrition, with Russia ready to destroy populated areas with artillery pushing back into Ukraine.

But recent Ukrainian achievements have reshaped the politics of the war as well as the battlefield. Western countries now seem less likely to withdraw military support for Ukraine, which has proved crucial. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is facing unusual criticism at home over recent military losses — and concerns from Xi Jinping, the leader of China, Russia’s most powerful partner.

In this climate, Russia’s central issue — the lack of trained, motivated fighters — is not easy to solve. Putin’s announcement on Wednesday of a “partial mobilization” of people with military experience in which about 300,000 soldiers will be called up could help replenish Russian forces. But the quality of new recruits is unclear, and it could take time to organize and deploy them, limiting their immediate effectiveness on the battlefield.

Although still considered unlikely, it is now conceivable that continued Ukrainian successes could lead to a collapse of Russian morale and fighting ability, Mr. Muzyka, an analyst at Rochan Consulting, he wrote on Monday.

“It is no longer science fiction to think that the war will end in a few weeks, months, not years,” Musyka wrote.



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