“We do not assess that the conflict is a stalemate,” Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, said on Tuesday. “We continue to support Ukraine in its effort to take territory as part of this counteroffensive, and we are seeing it continue to take territory on a methodical systematic basis.”
While a smaller, dug-in Russian force has performed better in the south than American officials and analysts anticipated, the Kremlin still has systemic problems. Russian troops suffer from poor supply lines, low morale and bad logistics, a senior U.S. military official said.
But Russia is keeping with its traditional way of fighting land wars in Europe: performing poorly in the opening months or years before adapting and persevering as the fighting drags on.
By contrast, Ukrainian troops, in launching the counteroffensive, have the steeper hill to climb, the official said. It took them more than two months — rather than the week or so that officials initially thought — to get through the initial Russian defenses.
Several U.S. officials said they expect Ukraine to make it about halfway to the Sea of Azov by winter, when cold weather may dictate another pause in the fighting. The senior U.S. official said that would be a “partial success.” Some analysts say the counteroffensive will fall short of even that more limited goal.