March 27, 2022

‘Diminishing returns’: What can change the course for Putin in the Ukraine war?

Featuring Michael Kofman

Source: The Washington Post

Journalists Paul Sonne, Robyn Dixon

Michael Kofman, a Russian military analyst at research group CNA in Virginia, said significant Russian casualties do not necessarily seem to be a political limitation on Putin at home but hinder the effectiveness of his units in combat. At some point, Kofman said, high numbers of Russian troops killed or injured affect morale and the ability of commanders to press forward with the campaign.


The Ukrainian resistance, and even successful offensives to recapture territory from Russians in some places, could also limit what Putin believes he can achieve and force him to recalibrate his objectives. At the same time, Russian forces are facing difficulties keeping supply lines running on multiple fronts.

But Kofman said Putin’s decisions depend largely on what information he is seeing and what he is being told. U.S. intelligence regularly assessed ahead of the war that the Russian leader was being given poor information by his inner circle of advisers.

“The big question is what does Putin actually know of this war?” Kofman said. “What is his perception of the reality of the battlefield? What is the military leadership telling him about their prospects for success?” He added, “Does he believe continuing to use force can actually achieve any of his political aims in Ukraine? Or does he see the situation as one of diminishing returns?”

Read the full story and more from The Washington Post.


  • Michael Kofman

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    Michael Kofman serves as a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses' Russia Studies Program, and a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Internation...