New York Times
Avril Haines, the U.S. director of national intelligence, recently outlined three plausible scenarios in Ukraine. In the first, Russia’s continuing progress in eastern Ukraine would break Ukrainians’ will to fight and allow the Russian military to take over even more of the country. This outcome is Vladimir Putin’s new goal after being defeated in his initial attempt to oust Ukraine’s government. In the second scenario — the most likely one, Haines said (during a public appearance in Washington last week) — Russia would dominate the east but would not be able to go much farther. The two countries would fall into a stalemate that Haines described as “a grinding struggle.” In the third scenario, Ukraine would halt Russia’s advance in the east and also succeed in launching counterattacks. Ukraine has already regained some territory, especially in the southern part of the country, and some military experts expect a broader offensive soon. Today’s newsletter provides an update on the war by examining a few questions that will help determine which of these three scenarios becomes most likely.
Temporary or permanent
Has the tide definitively turned or are Ukrainian forces about to have more success? The most recent phase of the war has gone well for Russia. The eastern part of Ukraine, known as the Donbas region, has two provinces — Luhansk and Donetsk. Russia now controls virtually all of Luhansk and about 60 percent of Donetsk, according to Thomas Bullock, an analyst for Janes, a company specializing in intelligence issues. Yesterday, Russian forces increased their shelling near Bakhmut, a city in Donetsk that’s an important Ukrainian supply hub. Russia used a similar tactic in Luhansk to clear Ukrainian forces and civilians before taking over cities. “The Kremlin is sending the message that their overall plans haven’t changed and that everything is going according to plan,” Anton Troianovski, The Times’s Moscow bureau chief, said. In a sign of confidence in the Kremlin, Russian media have recently been reporting plans for holding referendums in the captured territories and formally annexing them, Anton added. But Ukraine does continue to benefit from an influx of sophisticated weapons from the West. And there is some reason to wonder whether Ukrainian troops will soon be able to make better use of those weapons than they have so far.