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What Zelenskyy’s military revamp means for ‘winning’ in Ukraine

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If talk of the war in Ukraine last year revolved around how its military offensive was going, today it’s largely centered on how the nation’s defensive lines are shaping up.

Last month, Ukraine’s prime minister announced a “record amount” of government funding for the construction of bulwarks.

Why We Wrote This

The war in Ukraine is at a pivotal point, after a disappointing counteroffensive and a halt of U.S. aid. Ukraine’s task now is to demonstrate a clear war strategy and shore up Western support.

While that’s good news to soldiers battling in the trenches against their deeply dug-in Russian adversaries, these sorts of messages do little to counter concerns among Western allies that, two years after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, the war has reached a stalemate. This was also the assessment from Ukraine’s top general, Valerii Zaluzhny, who was fired ​Thursday in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ​framed as a much-needed pivot.

Stalemate is a concern, too, for Republican lawmakers in the United States who are withholding war funds for Ukraine while demanding, among other things, that Kyiv – and the Biden administration – articulate just how the war against Russia might be won.

Coming up with a “theory of victory” would, “I think, ease some concerns of supporters and opponents [of war funding] – if it’s a good answer,” says retired Col. Mark Cancian, senior adviser on international security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

If talk of the war in Ukraine last year revolved around how its military offensive was going, today it’s largely centered on how the nation’s defensive lines are shaping up.

Just last month, Ukraine’s prime minister announced a “record amount” of government funding for the construction of bulwarks.

While that’s good news to soldiers battling in the trenches against their deeply dug-in Russian adversaries, these sorts of messages do little to counter concerns among Western allies that, two years after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, the war has reached a stalemate.

Why We Wrote This

The war in Ukraine is at a pivotal point, after a disappointing counteroffensive and a halt of U.S. aid. Ukraine’s task now is to demonstrate a clear war strategy and shore up Western support.

This was also the assessment from Ukraine’s top general, Valerii Zaluzhny, who was fired ​Thursday in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ​framed as a much-needed pivot. 

“2024 can become successful for Ukraine only through effective changes in the basis of our defense,” Mr. Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. Another social media post by a Zelenskyy adviser added that Ukraine needs to prevent stagnation on the front line, since it negatively affects public opinion. 

Stalemate is a concern, too, for Republican lawmakers in the United States who are withholding war funds for Ukraine while demanding, among other things, that Kyiv – and the Biden administration – articulate just how the war against Russia might be won. 



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