In the first phase of the war, Russian troops attacked across three broad fronts hoping to quickly take cities, but they became overstretched and suffered heavy losses. Russia is pulling tens of thousands of those troops back and preparing them for a narrower and potentially decisive fight for the Donbas.
Manpower and morale are both obstacles. It will take time to properly reorganize and redeploy so many units given the heavy losses Russia has suffered, says Michael Kofman, a top expert on Russia’s military at CNA. Large numbers of reserves aren’t expected anytime soon.
- Ukrainian forces have also dug in across much of the region through eight years of war, and they'll likely be fortifying towns and laying mines to further slow the Russian advance, he says.
- Kofman thinks Russia’s commanders would be wise to delay their offensive until they’ve had time to fully build up their force, rather than “repeat the errors from earlier in the war.”
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