Ukraine’s Deepening Fog of War

The forecasts are anything but optimistic: The best Ukraine can hope for in 2024, many Western officials and analysts say, is to simply hold the line.

Only a year ago, Ukraine was brimming with confidence. It had defied expectations, staving off Russia’s attempt to take over the country. Western nations, buoyed by Ukraine’s success, promised aid to help Ukrainians break through Russian lines.

But the flow of much-needed weapons from allies into the country was unpredictable, and slow. Ukraine’s own domestic arms production was mired in bureaucracy, top military officials have said. And the command structure of the army was not changing quickly enough to manage a force that had expanded from 200,000 troops to nearly a million in a matter of months.

Those weaknesses, and some strategic battlefield missteps, stymied Ukraine’s widely telegraphed counteroffensive, which resulted in only marginal territorial gains. At the same time, Russia was fortifying its defensive lines, converting its economy to war production, conscripting hundreds of thousands of fighters and adjusting its strategy for renewed offensives this winter.

Now, as the war enters its third year, leaders in Kyiv are trying to find a new path forward amid ferocious Russian assaults, while facing a series of daunting unknowns.

Missiles hit apartments outside Kharkiv this month, killing five civilians.Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

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