ISW analyzes Putin's 'theory of victory' in war against Ukraine

ISW analyzes Putin's 'theory of victory' in war against Ukraine

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin articulated a theory of victory in Ukraine that assumes that Russian forces will be able to continue gradual creeping advances indefinitely, prevent Ukraine from conducting successful operationally significant counteroffensive operations, and win a war of attrition against Ukrainian forces.

That's according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Ukrinform reports.

Putin stated following his speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) that Russia does not need to conduct another call-up of reservists similar to Russia's September 2022 partial mobilization because Russia is not trying to rapidly achieve its military objectives in Ukraine. At the same time, he acknowledged that the current Russian military contingent committed to the war in Ukraine would be insufficient for a rapid victory but suggested that Russian forces are instead pursuing a more gradual approach.

Putin stated that Russian forces aim to "squeeze" Ukrainian forces out "of those territories that should be under Russian control" and therefore Russia does not need to conduct another mobilization wave.

"Putin's assessment that gradual Russian gains will allow Russia to achieve his goals in Ukraine is predicated on the assumption that Ukrainian forces will be unable to liberate any significant territory that Russian forces seize and that the Russian military will be able to sustain offensive operations that achieve gradual tactical gains regardless of heavy losses," ISW analysts said.

Read also: ISW analyzes Putin's suggested figures on Russian army losses in Ukraine

Putin's assessment has been reinforced by the recent months of delayed Western security assistance and corresponding Ukrainian materiel constraints, which allowed Russian forces to seize and maintain the theater-wide initiative and conduct consistent offensive operations throughout eastern Ukraine that achieved gradual tactical gains.

"Putin's theory of victory rests on Russia's ability to outlast and overcome pledged Western security assistance to Ukraine and Ukrainian efforts to mobilize more of its economy and population for the war effort, indicating that Putin likely assesses that Russian forces will be able to leverage their advantages in manpower and materiel to overwhelm on Ukrainian forces," the report said.

ISW analysts noted that Ukrainian forces have previously shown that when they are well provisioned, they can prevent Russian forces from making even marginal tactical gains, force Russian offensive operations to culminate, and launch counteroffensive operations that liberate operationally significant territory. ISW continues to assess that Ukraine should contest the initiative as soon as possible because Russian forces are reaping a variety of benefits from holding the initiative, including their ability to pursue a strategy of attritional warfare.

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