The war

During World War II, one needed to say only “the war” for others to know what was being discussed. We have reached the same point with the Russo-Ukrainian war. This is not what the Russians expected to happen. They expected the war to be over quickly because they regarded their military as self-evidently superior to what the Ukrainians would put on the field. Few nations start a war assuming they will lose. They start wars with the same expectation: Hit hard, and be home for Christmas. But the history of the world is filled with the stories of great armies and warriors fighting long and desperate battles. And the history of warfare is filled with examples of confidence meeting reality.

It is far from clear what the final outcome will be. The initial Russian offensive ended in failure, less because of Ukrainians forces, brave though they might have been, than because of a poorly developed Russian strategy, leading to supply shortages and command failures. The Russians regrouped, focused on more modest advances in the expectation that over time they would break the Ukrainian forces and occupy, if not all of Ukraine, then at least a substantial amount of it.