Will the Ukraine War stalemate ever end?
The Ukraine war is entering its seventh month on the 24th. One obvious thing is that there are no longer any dynamic aggressive strategic military moves by either the Russians or the Ukrainians. Russia, the consummate aggressor, has had some grinding, slow-motion progress in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Russia uses moonscaping brute-force explosions with rather inaccurate but abundant artillery shelling of small villages and towns and then occupies the territory with what troops it has.
The reason for the general inactivity along the entire front line is that neither side has enough competent fighting troops and neither side seems willing to sacrifice more poorly trained troops in an effort to gain ground militarily. Troop morale reportedly is generally quite low, and competent soldiers simply can't be recruited by either side to replace the fallen and injured ones.
Some competent skilled soldiers that Ukraine has are being retrained outside the country in the use of rockets, artillery, and assorted military hardware, which are of Western origin, but this will take months and make dubious contributions to an approximately 2,000-kilometer front line, which has to be defended, now largely by very few and poorly trained troops.
Western military intelligence is being fed to the Ukrainians, so they are usually aware ahead of time where potential future Russian moves will be made, and most of those will probably be successfully countered. What is tragic is that no amount of Western military aid is going to result in a Ukrainian victory, but rather is cynically designed to kill as many Russian soldiers as possible and destroy as much military hardware as possible and lengthen the war for months or even years on end.
It would be commonsensical that with a frontline of about 2,000 kilometers of basically flat land, there are plenty of places for strategically aggressive military action through undefended openings. Many cross-country troop transport vehicles and troops with shoulder-mounted antitank rockets could freely cross unguarded flat land and encircle the enemy in an easy win. This is barely happening, so the logical conclusion is that there aren't enough cross-country troop vehicles or not enough trained troops or a dearth of both.
American-supplied Himars, or mobile precision rocket vehicles, were used successfully for a few weeks to take out command centers and ammunition storage dumps, but it now seems that the Ukrainians ran into some complications, probably due to a lack of enough trained personnel, not enough rockets, or military hardware maintenance problems. The other possible reason for ongoing ineffectiveness is that the Russians probably adjusted their logistics and placed their ammunition storage dumps and command centers farther from the frontlines and made them rather immune to mobile rocket fire. It seems that not enough trained troops on Western military hardware is a major problem as well as a dearth of precision rockets and maintenance material and supplies from the West.
Public interest in the West is waning with each passing month, and the future seems to be much like the present: basically a stalemate military situation with neither side conceding defeat.
Ukraine will soon be even more dependent on Western economic aid when its national reserves of saved money will run out in a few months and cause a potential national bankruptcy situation. The West has given Ukraine a reprieve on the payment of its national debt with the sole holdouts being private lenders like BlackRock, which may or may not also give Ukraine a reprieve on paying back its national debt obligations.
If and when the reprieve ends, it is possible that Ukraine will be forced to give up some of its territory in a negotiated peace deal at some point in the future. Ongoing government corruption in Ukraine, a change of leadership, and gross mismanagement of the economy may also lead to a forced peace settlement.
As in most things, money is the determining factor, which will ultimately force a political solution to the war. Putin has not acquired all of Ukraine but now controls most of the Donbas region of Ukraine and has a land bridge to Crimea, which Russia didn't have before the invasion. So far, Russia occupies about a fifth of the land mass of Ukraine.
Putin would probably be happy with the territory he has annexed so far. Whether Ukraine will soon have to choose defeat is debatable. If Ukraine does attack aggressively at some point in the distant future, then it may be in the Kerson and Crimea region of southeastern Ukraine, which is of strategic importance since it borders the Black Sea.
So Ukraine going from a defensive military position to a strategically offensive one is presently highly unlikely. If Ukraine wants to survive economically, it may have to enter peace talks at some point in the future and relinquish annexed territory, since militarily, it now seems there is no possible victory in the foreseeable future.
This seemingly hopeless scenario may change only if Putin is deposed, or the Russian military totally crumbles without enough fighting troops or military hardware left to defend annexed territory.
Photo credit: Executive Office of the President of Russia, CC BY 4.0 license.