What are realistic expectations for Ukraine’s military offensive?

Ukraine’s planned military offensive against Russia has created a range of expectations, with varying levels of optimism.

Best case scenario: According to Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the best outcome would see Ukraine liberate a significant amount of territory, potentially pushing the Russians back to the line on Feb. 23 of last year before the massive invasion began.
* This would reverse Russia’s most significant military gain over the past year, which is the creation of a land bridge connecting Russian troops in eastern Ukraine to Russian forces in the south.

More realistic expectation: Pifer suggests a more likely outcome is that the Ukrainians take back a good chunk of territory, which would be seen in the West as evidence of Ukraine’s potential to win.

Timing and tactics: While the precise time of the planned offensive remains secret, some analysts suggest initial stages could already be underway with small, surprise attacks inside Russia.
* There is a general belief that Ukraine is responsible for these attacks in order to keep Russia off-balance ahead of the offensive.

Long-term outlook: Analysts agree that regardless of the outcome of Ukraine’s offensive, it is unlikely to bring the war to an end, as Russia’s Vladimir Putin is playing the long game, aiming to wear down Ukraine’s military and diminish the West’s willingness to provide ongoing support.

View original article on NPR

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