As the invasion nears two months of brutal fighting, media outlets have released numerous articles attempting to predict the possible winner of the war.
Approaching the two month mark of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has met unexpectedly fierce opposition from Ukrainian forces, thwarting his plan for a quick and decisive victory.
After mobilizing thousands of troops and armored vehicles around the borders of Ukraine since as early as Spring 2021, Russia poised themselves for a massive ground invasion of the democratic country. Finally on Feb. 24, the invasion of Ukraine had started with Putin aiming to overwhelm Ukrainian ground forces in a siege towards the capital, Kyiv.
However, Russian forces were caught off-guard by strong Ukrainian resistance, forcing the invaders into a series of intense urban battles, effectively drawing the invasion out for a month. With his invasion having developed into a grinding war, Putin has begun to rethink his strategy and turned his focus towards taking territory in the eastern parts of Ukraine.
One of these key regions in eastern Ukraine is Donbas, where Ukrainian forces are fighting Moscow’s military in a battle for hold of the region which can “influence the course of the whole war,” as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated in a CNN article.
With a battle for control of the region having already begun, what do we currently know about the Ukrainian-Russian war that might indicate who the victor of the battle, and possibly the war overall will be? This is what the media says.
“To win the war, Russia must still take Kyiv and raise the Russian flag over Maidan, the capital’s Independence Square. But to take the capital, it requires the conquest of several key nodes to gain control over critical chokepoints and shipping routes,” and this is where John Spencer, retired U.S. Army major, says Russia will fail in a LA Times Op-Ed piece.
Stating urban warfare as “the most complex, hardest type of warfare for even the best-trained and equipped military in the world,” Spencer claims Russia has already indicated their incompetence and inability to fight in these types of battles.
Spencer also states that Russia lacks the sufficient forces needed to hold Ukrainian cities, citing U.S. Army doctrine which says that in order to hold urban terrain “a military needs three to five times the troops required in any other environment.”
Putin is not only lacking the troops to successfully pull off an urban invasion but also reportedly losing troop morale and lives at rapid speed. In another opinion piece from the Washington Post stating that Ukraine is winning the war, “Russian troop morale is said to be plunging as their difficulties multiply. Russian casualties are overwhelming morgues and hospitals in Belarus…Five generals are reported to be among the dead…The equipment losses are staggering…It is not clear how, or if, Russia can replace all these men and material.”
This sentiment is also held by The Atlantic, who broadcast their skepticism of Russia’s ability to regroup and resupply themselves in the face of mounting losses, ultimately agreeing that Ukraine is winning through this development.
As shown, while Ukrainian forces are outnumbered, they make up for their lack of military numbers in a large civilian resistance who will fiercely defend their homes. There has been an overwhelming civilian desire to take up arms that volunteers were reportedly turned away because units were full. Apparently, there is such a strong conviction amongst the people of Ukraine that their country will prevail that more than 90% of Ukranians believe Ukraine will win the war, according to a survey reported on by CNBC.
Not only has Putin’s hopes for a victorious and quick ground invasion failed but he also failed to establish air superiority early in the war—a goal that will become increasingly unachievable as Ukraine continues to receive artillery, aircraft parts and aid from countries across the globe—including $800 million in American aid.
While Putin has relied heavily on a continual bombardment of missile strikes to make up for his initial failures in the beginning of the invasion, this might be another strategic blunder that leads to further difficulties for Russian forces. As John Spencer asserts in his opinion piece, “The paradox of urban warfare is that the more you bomb a city, the harder it is to take.”
While U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Rick Snyder doesn’t think either side is winning the war, he tells First Coast News that time is of the essence and it’s in favor of the defenders. “The clock is on Ukraine’s side. Every tick of that clock will bring additional death and destruction, but it also means that Ukraine is still a fighting, free nation, supported by almost the entire rest of the world, and negotiation remains a viable end to this war.”
This is an aspect that is becoming increasingly true as every day that Putin has not captured the capital of Kyiv, Russia and its people continue to suffer under the mounting economic sanctions.
While the war continues to rage on and there are no clear victors in sight, the media seems to favor the democratic underdogs. Although the invasion has caused immeasurable destruction and death to Ukraine, articles are continually being published indicating Ukraine’s strong chances of victory over Russia.