October 5, 2022

How Ukraine got the upper hand against Russia


In the spring and summer of 2022, the war between Ukraine and Russia settled into a stalemate. The first phase of the war had been a rapid invasion that drew new battle lines across Ukraine; the next phase saw those battle lines harden and change very little over a long period of fighting. But in September, that chapter came to an end. For the first time in several months, Ukraine scored a major victory and won back significant territory from Russia.

Ukraine pulled off this victory by taking advantage of a surprising weakness in the Russian army: the difficulty it has had maintaining its ranks of skilled soldiers, especially compared to the training and resources Ukraine’s army has received from its allies. Reports suggest that Russia’s army has suffered catastrophic losses in the war and that it has attempted to replace those more highly trained forces with large numbers of mercenaries, prisoners, and men over 40. It’s an army that was stretched thin and vulnerable to the multi-pronged attack Ukraine launched in September.

Russia still controls a large amount of territory in southern Ukraine, including two major cities. But Ukraine’s victory outside of Kharkiv signals a new chapter in the war — one where, remarkably, Ukraine seems to have a shot at driving out the Russians completely.

Watch the video to learn more about why this attack worked and why it matters so much.

You can find this video and more on Vox’s YouTube Channel.

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