Pro-Ukrainian soldiers near Lyman, Ukraine, December 2022. Viacheslav Ratynskyi / Reuters
Barry R. Posen, Foreign Affairs: Russia’s Rebound
How Moscow Has Partly Recovered From Its Military Setbacks “
All the dumb Russians are dead.” So said Ukrainian officials in July 2022 as they sought to explain why the Russian army had abandoned the overambitious strategy and amateurish tactics that defined its conduct in the early weeks of the war. It was probably too early to make this quip. The Russians continued to do many dumb things and indeed still do. But broadly speaking, the Ukrainians’ intuition in the summer now appears correct: when it comes to overall military strategy, Moscow seems to have gotten smarter.
Russian strategic decisions are finally starting to make military sense. The partial mobilization of reservists that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered in September has strengthened Russian forces at the front. The bombing campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure that began in October is forcing Ukraine and its allies to divert resources toward the defense of the country’s urban population, vulnerable to bitter winter weather in the absence of electricity. And the withdrawal of Russian forces from the city of Kherson in November has saved capable units from destruction and freed them for action elsewhere.
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Ukrainian artillery firing back at Russian positions in the Kharkiv region. December 24, 2022. Evgeniy Maloletka / AP / Scanpix / LETA
Meduza: The true war of attrition begins
Meduza sums up what happened on the battlefield in 2022 — and what it portends for the year ahead
Late in 2022, the war in Ukraine reached a new turning point. Russia conducted its “first wave” of mobilization and partially eliminated the personnel deficit that contributed to its numerous military defeats in the fall. Now, the Russian army might face a shortage of a different resource: artillery ammunition. Meanwhile, Ukraine is experiencing a shell shortage of its own. Overcoming the deficiency won’t be easy: the West, which is assisting Ukraine with supplies, has largely exhausted its available stockpiles. It is against this backdrop that Russia and Ukraine are fighting a protracted artillery battle around the cities of Soledar and Bakhmut, which is rapidly eating away at the remaining ammunition on both sides. Increasingly, it seems the true “war of attrition” — as many began referring to the war in Ukraine almost as soon as its hot stage began — will take place in 2023. The outcome of this stage will hinge primarily on which side is better able to adapt to its worsening ammunition shortage.