Big Stuff Happening in Ukraine

In recent months many of us have gotten used to the Russia-Ukraine war as mostly a stalemate, with small gains in each direction often canceling each other out but no dramatic changes. That seems to be changing and perhaps rapidly. You’ve likely seen some reports of the Ukrainian offensive in the Kharkiv region. As near as I can tell (which isn’t that great) this started as what was partly a tactical feint toward the south which allowed the Ukrainians to catch the Russians off guard further north. The gains over the last 72 hours have been dramatic.

This illustration gives some sense of it.

From what I can tell this is unfolding as a relatively traditional mechanized and armored advance that once it breaks through key points can build momentum and move very rapidly. At least in this localized area it seems to have escalated to something like a rout or at best a hasty if not disorganized retreat by Russian forces.

What remains unclear to me is enough about the terrain or forces in the area to know whether the Russians can keep this advance relatively localized or whether this can continue into the rest of occupied portions of eastern Ukraine and fundamentally change the course of the war. Just no idea. Rapid mechanized advances like this can sometimes drive all before them. They also sometimes just run out of steam.

In any case, I would recommend to you again two Twitter lists I’ve curated with experts from whom we can learn more. This one is about the Ukraine war generally and this focuses more narrowly on the military dimensions of the conflict.

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