Russia, Ukraine brace for long war of attrition
President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision this week to expand the size of his military offered further evidence for a conviction taking hold in both Russia and Ukraine: The two sides are settling in for the long haul in a war that could last another year, or longer.
Putin, secure in his power and having silenced dissent, appears to have little incentive to stop the war, which he has now waged for more than six months without declaring a nationwide draft that could have provoked domestic discontent.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, warning his nation on Friday that the coming winter would be “the most difficult in our history,” is being bolstered by a largely unified West and a defiant populace in his insistence that there will be no compromise with an invading army.
The conflict has settled into a war of attrition, with little movement along the front line in recent weeks, even as both Zelensky and Putin face growing political pressure to show results on the battlefield.
Ukraine has held off from mounting a large-scale counter-offensive despite claiming for months that one was coming, and Russia has avoided sharply escalating its assault despite warning that it would retaliate against Ukrainian attacks in the Russian-controlled peninsula of Crimea.
“Expectations that this will end by Christmas or that this will end by next spring” are misguided, said Ruslan Pukhov, a defence analyst who runs the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a privately-owned thinktank in Moscow.
“We will have fewer Russian tourists in Europe, but the size of the Russian army will increase by 140,000 regular servicemen,” Igor Korotchenko, the editor of a Russian military journal, said on a state television talk show on Thursday.
“I expect that this is just the beginning.”
The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant resumed electricity supplies to Ukraine on Friday after one of its six reactors was reconnected to the Ukrainian grid, state nuclear company Energoatomsaid.
Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which is located in southern Ukraine, was disconnected from the Ukrainian grid for the first time in its history on Thursday after a fire caused by shelling damaged a power line, Kyiv said earlier.
New York Times News Service