Russia is adopting new strategies as it launches its winter offensive against Ukraine, as some Western intelligence officials warned that Moscow could also be gearing up for a military confrontation with a NATO country.
The shift in Russia’s approach could signal a new stage of the war, analysts said, as Ukraine has struggled to achieve its military objectives.
Russia’s winter push may not result in territorial gains
Russia has made significant tactical gains in recent weeks, the Institute for the Study of War noted. An expected winter-spring offensive in the Kharkiv-Luhansk region is underway, and Russian forces have increased assaults in the area. Ukrainian officials believe that the Russian military will be “exhausted” by springtime, but the ISW said the forces would likely secure some wins. However, Russia is “unlikely to be able to translate these tactical gains into wider mechanized maneuvers” that would see them capture more Ukrainian territory in Kharkiv.
Russian forces have learned to adapt against Ukraine
Ukraine saw an early advantage in the war due to its ability to outmaneuver Russia. That has changed after two years of conflict, military strategist Mick Ryan wrote in Foreign Affairs. Russia can be slow to adapt — but when it does, it takes what it has learned and “[systematizes] it across the military and through its large defense industry,” he noted. It has already used new strategies to fend off a Ukrainian counteroffensive. “Ultimately, if Russia’s edge in strategic adaptation persists without an appropriate Western response, the worst that can happen in this war is not stalemate. It is a Ukrainian defeat,” Ryan added.