The D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War concluded that “Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial Russian campaign of this war,” in an assessment published Saturday, The New York Times reported.
The assessment argues that Russia had failed in its initial goal of swiftly capturing Kyiv and other major cities and toppling the Ukrainian government and that Russian forces “are very unlikely” to capture these major objectives if they persist in their present strategy.
“The doctrinally sound Russian response,” the assessment concluded, would be for Russian forces to pause and regroup instead of “continuing to feed small collections of reinforcements into an ongoing effort to keep the current campaign alive.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made similar comments in Bulgaria on Saturday. “I think [Russia] envisioned that they would move rapidly and very quickly seize the capital city. They’ve not been able to do that,” he said, according to CNN.
In an address to the nation delivered Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said over 14,000 Russian troops have been killed since the invasion began on Feb. 24. The U.S. estimates Russian military deaths at around 7,000.
“In places of especially fierce battles, the frontline of our defense is simply piled with the corpses of Russian soldiers,” Zelensky said.
Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, wrote in The Washington Post on Thursday that the “deficiencies of the Russian military are exacerbating the damage and risks of the war.”
Schake argued that “Russia’s first resort to overcome inadequacies has been to shift its focus from attacking military forces to targeting civilian populations indiscriminately.”
As of Saturday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was able to confirm that 847 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the fighting, though the report also says the “OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher.”