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The Future of the Russo-Ukrainian War

Updated: Apr 4

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has lasted nearly two years. After $100 billion in Western military aid has been given to Ukraine, the war of attrition has become a slow-moving stalemate. The coming reduction in Western aid may turn the tide in Russia's favor.

In the days leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, experts in Washington projected its resistance to last a few weeks at best. The Russian military possesses superior manpower and organizational capacity and is backed by a GDP of around $2.2 trillion.

Yet, Ukraine’s armed forces have defied such expectations. In a striking defense, they repelled the initial offensive toward Kiev. 

It is now nearly two years later, and there have been more than half a million casualties. NATO has now sent over $100 billion in military aid to Ukraine.

In that time, Ukraine has proven it can field a defense capable of slowing Russian offensives. However, its own offensive capabilities have been underwhelming.

NATO supplies the immense amount of financial resources and military hardware needed for the war effort, yet Ukraine still only has a fraction of the equipment and reserve manpower Russia does. This means that losses on the battlefield are more consequential for Ukraine than for Russia.

Due to the changing landscape of modern warfare, brought about by technological innovations, the conflict has become one of stalemate and attrition. Vehicles like tanks and aircraft are much more vulnerable targets than they have ever been.

This being the case, the use of concealed slow-moving infantry has become the primary means of attack and defense for both sides of the conflict. Since the adoption of said strategy, casualties are thought to be near equal on both sides, which is a problem for Ukraine.

In this war, 70% of casualties are caused by artillery, and Kiev admits it only can field a fraction of the firepower required to maintain its successes on the battlefield. A reduction in Ukraine’s vital Western aid will only compound Ukraine’s battlefield deficiencies moving forward.

The US Congress, having supplied around $75 billion to Ukraine, says the money allocated is running out. There is no agreement in Congress on what will happen after the funds are depleted.

Facing the reduction of its vital military aid and being locked in a stalemate after a failed summer counteroffensive, Ukraine may be facing a grim future. Yes, F-16 fighters and many thousands of NATO-trained Ukrainian soldiers will be arriving in the coming months. However, it is unlikely that these will provide a dynamic transformation of the current situation.

Ukraine may soon be forced to the table as Russian offensives continuously gain ground and casualties mount on both sides.

The stalemate favors Russia in the long run. Its numerical advantages allow it to absorb and alleviate the impact of casualties more easily, and it does not rely on the goodwill of allies to continue its efforts. Ukraine has made an impressive and unexpected defensive showing, however, it has yet to reverse predicted outcomes. Russia will likely outlast Ukraine in the war of attrition we are seeing now, and with each day Kiev’s negotiating leverage will decline.

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