Ukraine update: Making sense of a battlefield that defies logic in a war that defies reason

Ukraine update: Making sense of a battlefield that defies logic in a war that defies reason

There has been little new news on the ground in Ukraine—that is, of the confirmable sort. Video footage continues to suggest Ukraine continues to make some headway in rolling back the most tenuous of prior Russian advances, continuing to close in on Kherson and making substantial apparent progress northeast of Kyiv. Russian forces, meanwhile, continue to direct much of their fire towards non-military targets.

Today’s update will be slightly different. We’ll take this opportunity to emphasize some of the key points from our past few weeks of coverage, looking to explain how the war unfolded in ways that caught nearly all outside experts off-guard. It also decimated expectations of what the Russian military at large could accomplish outside their borders. The nation’s armed forces have proven adept at doing damage to non-military targets; put up against the modernized armies of a large and industrialized opponent, however, it appears even Vladimir Putin underestimated how much destruction his kleptocracy has done to Russia’s status as would-be military superpower.

Some key posts from our past coverage:

Anyone who says they know what will happen next is lying; there are simply too many moving parts. Russia faces massive logistical challenges, but still has an enormous military and, possibly, enormous stockpiles. A single advance by either side could fundamentally change the shape of the war. The Russian economy is in utter shambles—but Putin may have more reasons to escalate the war, drawing in NATO itself, than he does to retreat. And during all of it, Ukraine’s civilians are dying.

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