Experts analyze the state of war in Ukraine two years

Experts analyze the state of war in Ukraine two years after the Russian invasion

Nick Schifrin:

In two years, countless wives became widows, sons became orphans, the dead were robbed of their dignity and 10 million were forced to leave their homes – the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Everyone everywhere bears the scars of war.

And so Ukraine fights; 300,000 soldiers are determined but exhausted, undermanned and increasingly outnumbered. In some areas, Russian soldiers fire ten artillery shells for every one they fire. Two years ago today, before the full-scale invasion, Russia occupied seven percent of Ukraine. On March 22, 2022, Moscow expanded control to 27 percent.

Ukraine has retaken about half of the newly captured territory, but Russia still holds 18 percent. Most recently, Ukraine pushed the Russian navy further back into the Black Sea, increased exports and is now increasingly threatening occupied Crimea. But it recently lost the eastern town of Avdiivka.

The Russian military is gaining momentum as Ukraine awaits U.S. aid, without which senior U.S. officials fear Ukraine will lose out.

We now take a look at the state of the war, where it could lead, and U.S. policy toward Ukraine through three perspectives.

Michael Kofman is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. John Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. And Rebeccah Heinrichs is a senior fellow and director of the Keystone Defense Initiative at the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank.

Thank you. Welcome back to the “NewsHour.”

Michael Kofman, let me start with you.

As we just said, Ukraine lost Avdiivka. They are increasingly less armed and manned. How bad is it?

Michael Kofman, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Look, Ukraine begins 2024 in a very difficult situation. That is very clear. Ukraine has a deficit of artillery ammunition. This is partly because the country relies on Western ammunition support and lacks manpower.

There is a need to replenish the armed forces, particularly the infantry component of the armed forces. Now, while it is true that Russia has a material advantage in this war, this much is clear when we look at manpower, especially when we look at artillery and to a lesser extent equipment, that advantage is also there at this stage not crucial.

The battle for Avdiivka, a bitter five-month battle, tells us about the challenges facing both militaries. Ukraine was forced to retreat after a defensive battle, but this came at very high costs to the Russian military. It cost the Russian military almost an entire army's worth of equipment, and equipment remains the limiting factor for them.

That being said, this year is clearly looking like a year in which Ukraine will most likely focus much more on maintaining, defending, rebuilding and reconstituting its armed forces, and perhaps meeting challenges to Russian forces with an expanded attack create campaigns.