“In recent weeks, a couple of assumptions have prevailed in much of the outside analysis of the war in Ukraine,” Global Security Reporter Joshua Keating writes. “One was that the conflict was settling into a slow, grinding war of attrition, in which major maneuvers would be rare and success would be measured in the ability to replace troops and equipment rather than gains in territory. The other was that Ukraine’s best chance to break out of this near-stalemate was with a long-anticipated offensive in the south of the country, in the area around the Russian-held city of Kherson.”
But over the past week, “these assumptions have been turned on their head,” he notes. Ukrainian forces have won back some 3,000 square kilometers of territory from Russian control in only six days, including the strategic supply hubs of Izyum and Kupiansk in northeastern Ukraine. And footage of Russian troops fleeing the advance and Ukrainian “civilians celebrating in recaptured towns have stunned military experts, Kremlin supporters, and perhaps some Ukrainians themselves.”
And in Russia, the tone on state television, in official statements and on social platforms has shifted, Stanislav Kucher reports. Notably, people are now calling the war a war. More Russians are now openly saying vojna (война), or “war,” instead of calling it a “special military operation” (spetsial’naya voennaya operatsiya) – which has been a crime since early on in the conflict.
Over the weekend, the Russian Ministry of Defense framed a hasty pullback from the Kharkiv region as a “planned and pre-organized regrouping of troops,” and state TV anchor Dmitry Kiselyov called last week “probably one of the most difficult” as Russian forces withdrew “under the onslaught of superior enemy forces” – “an unprecedented acknowledgment of Russian failing” for Kiselyov, Stanislav writes.
❗️Learn more about Ukraine’s swift offensive and the reaction in Russia.
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