ISW Says Russia Failing to Take Kyiv and Shifting to a Long Bloody Stalemate

ISW has determined that Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial Russian campaign of this war. That campaign aimed to conduct airborne and mechanized operations to seize Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and other major Ukrainian cities to force a change of government in Ukraine. That campaign has culminated.

Russian forces continue to make limited advances in some parts of the theater but are very unlikely to be able to seize their objectives in this way. The doctrinally sound Russian response to this situation would be to end this campaign, accept a possibly lengthy operational pause, develop the plan for a new campaign, build up resources for that new campaign, and launch it when the resources and other conditions are ready.

The Russian military has not yet adopted this approach. It is instead continuing to feed small collections of reinforcements into an ongoing effort to keep the current campaign alive. We [ISW] assess that that effort will fail.

The Russian military continues to commit small groups of reinforcements to localized fighting rather than concentrating them to launch new large-scale operations. Russia continues to commit units drawn from its naval infantry from all fleets, likely because those units are relatively more combat-ready than rank-and-file Russian regiments and brigades. The naval infantry belonging to the Black Sea Fleet is likely the largest single pool of ready reserve forces the Russian military has not yet committed. Much of that naval infantry has likely been embarked on amphibious landing ships off the Odesa coast since early in the war, presumably ready to land near Odesa as soon as Russian forces from Crimea secured a reliable ground line of communication (GLOC) from Crimea to Odesa. The likelihood that Russian forces from Crimea will establish such a GLOC in the near future is becoming remote, however, and the Russian military has apparently begun using elements of the Black Sea Fleet naval infantry to reinforce efforts to take Mariupol.

The culmination of the initial Russian campaign is creating conditions of stalemate throughout most of Ukraine. Russian forces are digging in around the periphery of Kyiv and elsewhere, attempting to consolidate political control over areas they currently occupy, resupplying and attempting to reinforce units in static positions, and generally beginning to set conditions to hold in approximately their current forward positions for an indefinite time.

Stalemate will likely be very violent and bloody, especially if it protracts. Stalemate is not armistice or ceasefire. It is a condition in war in which each side conducts offensive operations that do not fundamentally alter the situation. Those operations can be very damaging and cause enormous casualties.

A stalemate condition Russian forces will continue to bomb and bombard Ukrainian cities, devastating them and killing civilians, even as Ukrainian forces impose losses on Russian attackers and conduct counter-attacks of their own.

A stalement is war of attrition and a battle of wills.

67 thoughts on “ISW Says Russia Failing to Take Kyiv and Shifting to a Long Bloody Stalemate”

  1. It's not likely to be a stalemate for long. If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will come to the mountain. And he will bring lots of javelins and stingers.

    Falling back and building up resources for a new campaign is a non-starter. The only one that would be able to build up resources for a new campaign would be Ukraine; Russia can't even build and repair its own tanks without foreign goods.

    In less than two months it is believed that the Russians will be unable even to pay their troops. Those are the guys that have already started fragging their own commanders.

    Even before happens. it seems more and more likely that masses of anguished parents and others will overrun the Kremlin, while the army and police stand aside or join in. And that's if the inner circle doesn't take care of Putin first.

  2. Some time before the conflict started I read that by 2050 Russia will be a Muslim majority state, and Putin wants to postpone that day by incorporating the Ukraine. Maybe that reason fuelled his ambition.

  3. Yep. If the stats I am seeing are any indications, the Russians are well on their way to exceeding the losses the sustained in 10 years in Afghanistan, if they haven't already.

  4. Correction, one of the parties,  the Opposition Platform for Life, is in parliament, it is led by Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Moscow oligarch with close ties to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

  5. The far right in Ukraine got 2.15% of the vote in the 2019 election and no seats in Parliament.
    The parties Zelenshy banned are alleged to be Russian aligned organizations and not serious political parties, none of the banned parties gained enough votes to get any seats in Parliament.

  6. "Neurosis" is an existing word that Janov *corrected* the definition of to reflect reality, science and make the definition usable. The old def is that one is neurotic if the *personality* is starting to fail, and things are getting a little off. Janov merely extends the definition to cover those who are still in control. Turns out the important thing is the amount and intensity of Repression, another term of Art, whether under total control or not. Broad coverage here! The good stuff we have evolved to fight Repression, love of Nature for example, will still be there after Neurosis is gone, or at least removed from power. "Once understood, the System must be destroyed".

  7. Tis only but semantics and minced word play. Neurosis? Could otherwise be interpreted as great mind focus -or- mental energy with a small side of anxiety but in greater service to a goal not otherwise achieveable by the calm and balanced group. We live in a world and follow objectives that see obvious success through individual striving and resilience and grit -far more- than by sentimental acts of the 'so-called nice' community collaborating and agreeing upon common ends. The 3.9 GPA stressed, overachiever individual is way more than many times the 2.5 GPA average student study 'group' in creation and solving and execution. If we valued the accomplishments of the family, community, history, and the balanced objectives of the well-considered numbers, we would not have a society that was in a constant act of moving away from places that values such groupie environments as religion, eastern europe, old nations within asia and africa, small towns and communities, unions, guilds, etc. Ask not how neurosis can be eliminated or ostracized but how those individuals who persevere and embrace challenge and adversity can be supported and encouraged. If we wish a world of technological advancement, understanding, built progress, and solutions realized we look to the narcisstic doer than the feel-good facilitator — and the cost is manageable stress.

  8. With modern weapons a stalemate won't be a long affair. Maybe a month or two more and the Russian losses will be too much to bear.

  9. "“The bottom line is that their command and control has broken down.
    Their communications have been jammed by the Ukrainians,” Petraeus said. “Their secure coms didn’t work. They had to go to a single channel
    that’s jammable ― and that’s exactly what the Ukrainians have been doing to that.”" Russian military has been *censored*! HAR, they certainly deserve it. What do you think of ignorant mentally ill neurotic power addicts, proud of themselves!, who censor?

  10. People will be better once they understand neurosis. "lack full humanity" because of Repression.

    "Maybe Tolstoy was right after all: it is the apparently powerful who lack full humanity, and not those whom they try to harm." –Catriona Kelly

  11. Let him humiliate himself. I will handle it. He does not yet realize he is neurotic. Won't deal with the question at all. Thinks he wins by doing so. Thinks he can censor me.

  12. People are as crazy as they can possibly be. All mentally healthy people are libertarian. Understand? "Once understood, the System must be destroyed." Understand?

  13. The United States should unilaterally declare a special military exercise on Ukraine and with Turkey's permission (wink wink) send an armada into the Black Sea to attack Ukraine but taking out all of putin's military assets as collateral damage. Remove putin from Crimea, shooting the little green men, and remove putin from eastern Ukraine. Next, take out all his road and railway assets in putinland that are within 300 miles of Ukraine's border. Then when Ukraine surrenders just leave all the modern military equipment, advisors and trainers that Ukraine would need to fend off another putin attack.

  14. Putin dreams of lost territory. Space does not have such territory, no power to offer by controlling such. Must make him uneasy. Too much Liberty!

  15. Had Putin embraced spaceflight, he could have done wonders for Russian prestige. A Sea Dragon out of Murmansk towed by nuclear icebreakers.

    But noooo….

  16. They are expensive. Usually used for targets that are needed to be taken down very quickly as they are going to disappear. The US is sending 100. Much more is needed.

  17. Wow, wrong on just about everything, Russia does not control 1/3 of Ukraine, it does not have Kyiv completely surrounded, there aren't Nazi's in Kyiv, the Nazi's are in the Kremlin, and the Russian/Nazi attacks on the weapons channels have achieved only minor success.

  18. Interesting to see if a change in government is even possible. What can russia really ever be? Can it reinvent itself as a noble partner to the Eurasian super-continent in an age of ubiquitous communication, tech, and financial transactions? How much of the government, oligarchy, and military elite can be trusted to enrich the country by peaceful, individually-focussed progress?

  19. I look forward to the hundreds of billions of frozen Russian assets being paid to Ukraine as war compensation.

  20. Yes, that is called a proxy war, and cynically it may not be a bad thing for NATO and the US, draining Russia's military and economic strength, without getting directly involved. And as a side-effect, maybe even a regime change in Moscow.

  21. I just think it’s the same playbook as Afghanistan for NATO and the U.S. Keep funneling in anti-tank weapons, armed drones etc and turn Ukraine into a buzzsaw for the invading Russian soldiers.  

    Over time the body count will get pretty high and Russian citizens will eventually start to turn on Putin and blame him. It’s not the 1980’s and the Cold War. But U.S. military commanders still have a fresh memory for how that all went down.

  22. Another reason may be that USA cannot field combat capable formations. I have read that as many as 25% of the US military has declined the experimental clot shots and will be involuntarily retired.
    Look at the DOD "corrected " datasets of illness and "Vaxx" injuries, and decide whether you think that the US could intervene.
    How is the war in Syria coming along? I haven't seen reports in some time- has Russia had to recall forces to support the Ukraine attack?

  23. What the Russians are resorting to is constant shelling of Ukrainian cities, reducing them to rubble, putting them on siege and starving them till they surrender. This is likely what is going to happen in Mariupol. Other Ukrainian cities are mostly spared from this fate so far. What Ukraine needs most now is beyond the horizon guided rockets and missiles to increase the destruction of Russian artillery pieces and other pieces of their mechanized equipment. The Israeli long range anti tank spike missiles comes to mind, it has a range of 32 km for the long range version, it is the standard in many Western countries, the US is also considering buying it but unfortunately due to a set of agreements between Russia and Israel, Israel is not providing it to Moscow former eastern block adversaries. still the US can provide its APKWS laser guided rockets for this purpose.

    By the way the institute of study of war page is indeed making great daily analysis of conflicts. Thank you for that. Since no link of it has been provided, I am adding below the link.

  24. I think that a maximalist Ukrainian position is justified based off of the momentum in the war. Russia is losing 50-100 vehicles a day. They can't keep this up. They don't have the troops to hold the area they currently occupy.

    Wait until the switchblade drones start making Russian squads disappear.

  25. Big brain move is to let India trade with Russia and to drive a hard bargain so that they are best able to stand up to China.

  26. Me thinks that Europe and the USA need to do more to sanction Russia. We have done a good job so far, but I think the severity of sanctions in about a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10. We can ratchet it up a bit and also convince other countries – notably in the Middle East, Latin America, as well as India and Japan to join in. Heck, maybe even applying pressure on China to pivot away from the Russians may be a good idea.

    As far as helping Ukraine goes, I think we need to do more. Heavier arms, send the Polish MiGs too. Also, sending canned food to the civilian resistance is a good idea. Ammunition is good but the brave fighters need food and water too. We can prop up Ukraine while bleeding the Russians dry.

    P.S. This comes from a guy who, until 2022 was a more or less in the camp of trying to make deals with Russia. Now, the World has changed. I am probably as anti-Russian as they come.

  27. That's why American interlocutors are selfishly telling the Ukrainian leadership to take a maximalist line in negotiations, in order to avoid a settlement. The United States finds it more useful to wage a guerrilla war against the Russians — right down to the last Ukrainian life.

  28. Similar things were said about the Afghan War against the Soviets. Funny how none of them predicted 9-11. What are the spillover effects from a Ukraine guerrilla war going to be?

  29. I hope no one like Lukashenko ever refers to me as “completely sane”. Then I’ll know I’m beyond hope.

  30. The “long, bloody stalemate” will just delay the long, bloody occupation and the accompanying long, bloody insurrection. Putin is going to need a lot of help in funds and political support to keep this project going. Russia will need to sell its resources and it’s soul to China and where it used to prop up dictatorships like Iran, it will now be dependent on them.

    If the West can resist its temptation to revert to past patterns of behaviour and start “normalizing” relations with Russia when the occupation starts and labeling Ukraine resistance as “militant groups” when the insurrection starts they will restore my faith in humanity somewhat.

  31. Eastern portion of Moldova – aka. Transniestra – is under Russian control, just like Ossetia, Donetsk and Luhansk. No way it can be incorporated into NATO.

  32. Ah. The enemy of my enemy must be my friend 'relationship' writ large over Europe – a tenuous form of solidarity. It will be interesting to see if the sanctions, post-poned supply agreements, and military spending/ coordination deals continue past warm and abundant Spring/Summer into cold and lean Fall/Winter. Toothless and bendy are the EU and NATO folks after lines of 'temporary' CCP troops and tanks on the roads to Kiev become 'newly-recognized Ukraine breakaway states' peacekeepers of all-to-convenient Belarus and Russian flavours. These ruskies seep and slither and take root like vines and weeds in territories not vigorously and constantly defended. Disapproving sneers and middling threats of SWIFT disconnection and oil/gas embargoes by the West often slowly get softened with the immediate threat lessening – yet russian-leaning mayors and policing forces linger and bully the locals for ongoing seasons.The russian administration is rotten all the way down and care little for time and the proletariat they smother and impoverish.

  33. And by "quagmire" it looks like we're talking about a modernized variant of the WW1 trench warfare. 100 men die for nothing on either side every time some general decides to make a charge.
    Russian supply lines are stretched way too thin already. Ukraine may end up getting practically unlimited back door support from NATO. It's in NATO's best interest to keep Russia tied up in Ukraine forever and losing troops until they run out of people to send
    By then maybe the displaced Ukrainians could have shelters or even new homes built. Nothing like that for the Russian soldiers.

  34. And right now all the parts of Europe are united in the idea that a mechanized land war in Eastern Europe between a nuclear power and a former satellite state is completely unacceptable.

  35. Ukraine is doing more damage to Russia right now than they ever could have as part of Europe or NATO.

  36. Russia (ostensibly) feared Ukraine joining NATO so much that they have invaded Ukraine and found themselves in a decade long quagmire against forces funded by Europe + NATO. Its like fighting a long war with NATO where you can't actually attack NATO.

    There is no military win in for Russia and there is already profound economic loss.

  37. I see ending after several more months, with Putin having inadvertently created a desire on the part of all Europe, from all directions, to engage culturally either each other, including travel and other infrastructure. I think something like this will create a stronger continental bond. It was different when Stalin was around and the Russian and other Eastern European peoples didn't have a choice.

    I think China will by incredibly unhappy with the unity this outcome creates. But, in the end, the CCP may will realize it's more beneficial to have strong trading partners, even if it means they don't end up controlling the world economy.

    This could very well equalize international relations in a way we've not yet seen.

  38. Possibly and i don't even really believe that there was a well-defined end-game to this adventure. Pretty-much just someone rattling a stick around in a hornet's nest, somehow thinking they would be immune to the stings and group push-back.
    Perfectly the wrong strategy on russia's part: weak, exposed, demoralized, and now subject to financial/ economic isolation.

  39. Ironically, this tantrum on Russia's part may bring Europe closer together and facilitate new movement (if mostly military) infrastructure…

  40. They need a huge project and reduced costs of movement, travel to integrate and freely move. The price of train and plane travel in most of the EU is much higher than the US and car/ fuel costs are absurdly so. Vacations and accomodation are rare and prohibitively costly, comparably, even as the number of vacation weeks from work is much higher in the EU for similar work.
    Consider an Interstate-type project along with various european-wide energy and infrastructure upgrades. Regulations need to be more streamlined and less environmentally burdensome.

  41. Not convinced on the intergration of western europe as a means of making the 'whole' greater than the sum of its parts. South Europe vs north europe and east vs west and russion vs everyone are very different culture variations, much more than just historical conflict and language difference. The varying geographies and climate-driven values don't match well when people move.
    We had a group of brilliant southern italians at our north german and british offices – they all left after 6 months, saying they would rather 'work to live' than 'live to work'. ho-hum.

  42. Hah! Just watched Baron Munchausen and Budapest Hotel. Hilarious meme of east european feudalism and its absurd historical pride and burden. Truth is stranger than fiction.

  43. Truly a ridiculous and backward part of the 'modern' world.
    Reminds me of those movies that feature 18th- and 19th- and even early 20th-century psuedo-historical accounts of the feudalism and constant ideological conflicts between various burghs, regions, provinces, and micro-states of questionable cultural integrity throughout eastern europe. Mini-wars between petty tyrants, self-promoted military leaders, questionably descended aritocrats, slighted religious and cultish poobahs, and other such flavour-of-the-month violence-driven visionaries.
    What is that motivates these small collections of ill-equipped armies, inexperienced generalissimos, and maddened despots to put their ill-defined region and its semi-motivated inhabitants in such a state of deprivation and anxiety? I have often heard that war is one of the most economically stimulating means of bringing a people together, but…
    I used to look at the integration of western europe through its various economic and political treaties and ties since the late 20th century as the way forward to create an environment of free-moving individualism, entrepreneurialism, rational-based development, and reduced bureaucratic obstruction. This attempt to be more US-states'-like would allow people and companies and projects to go where they could most likely succeed – a super-charging of a motivated populace and a side-stepping of stifling nationalism… then greece, Brexit, turkey, failed enviromental movements…

  44. All mentally healthy people are libertarian.
    "Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in an interview that Russian
    President Vladimir Putin "is in better shape than ever" and called him
    "completely sane."" Whew! I was worried.

  45. "In any case, he believes that he’s superior and smarter. This is the problem of despotism,” he added. “It’s why despotism, or even just authoritarianism, is all-powerful and brittle at the same time.”" Are Chinese smarter too? Do they realize they are neurotic?

    "Time will prove that China's claims are on the right side of history." -Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Now there is a testable claim to remember and hold those making to account! Hilarious from someone who does not even realize he is neurotic. Does not see power addicts looking bad.

  46. "In any case, he believes that he’s superior and smarter. This is the problem of despotism,” he added. “It’s why despotism, or even just authoritarianism, is all-powerful and brittle at the same time.”" Are you also smarter?

  47. It only happens if NATO decides to go all in. But destroying Russia is meaningless if it weakens US and EU so much so China will become the new ruler of the world.

  48. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is creating a continuously growing Ukrainian military (in the millions) that’s now armed and funded by the richest and most powerful military organization on Earth (NATO).  Russia may end up losing the Crimea before this war is over.

    But the EU needs to permanently punish Putin by immediately making the Ukraine and Moldova EU members. And NATO should make Moldova an immediate NATO member. This would be a huge political loss for Putin in the eyes of his own military.

  49. It seems the initial plan read to bribe or otherwise convince most of the Ukrainian army to surrender without fight.
    Now there's plan B.
    It could be blocking the U army forces from supply and slowly pushing. And declare it was the original plan.

  50. Russia underestimated Ukraine resistance. But they using more modern (Kinzhal) and more powerful (tos-1) weapons now. They will use strategies have used to take cities in Syria. If sanctions cannot make Russia economy collapsed (still not yet, ruble is climbing back steadily), nothing else can save Ukraine.

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