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The Ukrainian Offensive Grinds On

Political science professor Andrew Kydd warns that we should expect progress in the Ukraine war to be slow.

Andrew Kydd understands why many observers are impatient with the Ukrainian military. In fall 2022, the Ukrainians launched a surprise counterattack against Russia, capturing large swathes of territory: the Kharkiv region in the north and Kherson in the south. Then, for months, Ukraine’s Western supporters awaited a promised spring or summer attack. But since that offensive began in June 2023, it has made only limited advances. Where are the lightning gains of last year?

Kydd understands — but warns that such expectations are unrealistic.

“Everyone wants it to happen quickly and for there to be quick victories, naturally. And some earlier offenses that they launched last year did achieve some notable successes relatively quickly,” he says. “But the Russians have really been digging in and fortifying the lines, especially in the south, but also in the east. And it stands to reason that this is going to take awhile.”

Kydd is a professor of political science who studies strategy, and as a member of the UW’s Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia, he’s been following the war on Ukraine war closely. On July 11, he’ll join a UW Now Livestream discussion about the war in Ukraine — where the situation stands now and what to expect in the near future.

My Main Area of Research Is:

My area of research is international relations, focusing on international conflict. The kind of research I do typically involves game theory, which is the mathematical modeling technique used to study strategic interaction, especially in economics and political science, to answer questions like, “If the other side does this, then what would the rational response to that be?” I don’t really have a special regional focus or expertise. I’m more focused on specific topics — the origins and conclusion of wars wherever they might be.

Tonight on The UW Now Livestream, I’ll Talk About:

I’m going to cover the counteroffensive by Ukraine that started about a month ago. Just in terms of historical comparisons, if you think back to World War II, everybody remembers D-Day. It was a tremendous success, and the troops got ashore. Only one out of the five beaches was seriously contested. But fewer people remember that the [Allied] troops in Normandy were basically held to a relatively small portion of the Normandy Peninsula for two months before they managed to break out into the open countryside beyond that.

If Viewers Remember Just One Thing, It’s:

Following on from that, the notion that this could still take quite awhile, even though we’ve been supplying the Ukrainian side and helping train them. The Russians have not been idle during this time. They’ve been fortifying their lines. So again, there’s a need for patience in terms of how long this might last and how it might go. 

To Get smart Fast, See:

A good place for updates on the battle is this organization called the ISW, Institute of the Study of War.

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