Prominent right-wing foreign affairs pundit Frederick Kagan is one of three co-authors of a new analysis claiming that Russian troops lost the first phase of its invasion of Ukraine.
Kagan, widely cited as one of the intellectual architects of George W. Bush's unsuccessful surge in Iraq, wrote the analysis for the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank founded by his wife, Kimberly Kagan.
"Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial Russian campaign of this war," Frederick Kagan declared with George Barros and Kateryna Stepanenko.
"hat campaign aimed to conduct airborne and mechanized operations to seize Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and other major Ukrainian cities to force a change of government in Ukraine. That campaign has culminated. Russian forces continue to make limited advances in some parts of the theater but are very unlikely to be able to seize their objectives in this way," they argued. "The doctrinally sound Russian response to this situation would be to end this campaign, accept a possibly lengthy operational pause, develop the plan for a new campaign, build up resources for that new campaign, and launch it when the resources and other conditions are ready. The Russian military has not yet adopted this approach. It is instead continuing to feed small collections of reinforcements into an ongoing effort to keep the current campaign alive. We assess that that effort will fail."
They argued Russia's stalled advance is "creating conditions of stalemate throughout most of Ukraine."
"Stalemate will likely be very violent and bloody, especially if it protracts. Stalemate is not armistice or ceasefire. It is a condition in war in which each side conducts offensive operations that do not fundamentally alter the situation. Those operations can be very damaging and cause enormous casualties," they wrote. "The World War I battles of the Somme, Verdun, and Passchendaele were all fought in conditions of stalemate and did not break the stalemate. If the war in Ukraine settles into a stalemate condition Russian forces will continue to bomb and bombard Ukrainian cities, devastating them and killing civilians, even as Ukrainian forces impose losses on Russian attackers and conduct counter-attacks of their own."
Blake Hounshell, the editor of the "On Politics" newsletter from The New York Times, described the analysis as a "big call."