The following is the Feb. 13, 2023, Congressional Research Service report Russia’s War in Ukraine: Military and Intelligence Aspects.
From the report
Russia’s renewed invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February 2022 marked the start of Europe’s deadliest armed conflict in decades. After a steady buildup of military forces along Ukraine’s borders since 2021, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, with Russian ground forces attacking from multiple directions.
Initially, Russian forces made gains along all lines of advance. However, Russian forces ran into effective and likely unexpected levels of Ukrainian resistance from the invasion’s outset. In addition, many analysts and officials assess that, during this first stage of the war, the Russian military performed poorly overall and was hindered by specific tactical choices, poor logistics, ineffective communications, and command-and-control issues. The Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF), while at a quantitative and qualitative disadvantage in personnel, equipment, and resources, have proven more resilient and adaptive than Russia expected.
Over the course of the first several weeks of the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military had to adjust to various setbacks and other developments on the ground. With many of its advances stalled, Russian defense officials announced in late March 2022 that Russian military operations would focus on eastern Ukraine, including the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk (collectively known as the Donbas, where Russian-led separatists have been fighting since 2014) and that Russia would withdraw its forces around Kyiv and Chernihiv in the north. Russia subsequently gained additional territory in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and held territory in other regions, including Kharkiv in the northeast and Zaporizhia and Kherson in the south.
In September 2022, Ukrainian forces succeeded in retaking territory in Ukraine’s Kharkiv and Kherson regions. In this effort, the UAF demonstrated an ability to deploy forces effectively to conduct offensive operations, and the Russian military continued to suffer from systemic and structural failings. Fighting subsequently has focused on the Donbas, specifically the town of Bakhmut and surrounding territory. Amid intense attritional fighting, both sides have been reforming and reconstituting units for spring offensives after suffering heavy personnel and equipment losses.
Approaching one year since Russia’s 2022 invasion, debates continue over each side’s ability to establish and equip units capable of conducting offensive operations, with many observers skeptical either Russia or Ukraine will be able to achieve a decisive battlefield victory in the near future. At the same time, both sides anticipate intensive localized offensives.
Prior Congresses have considered numerous measures in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The 118th Congress is likely to continue tracking these developments closely as it considers upcoming policy decisions on U.S. and international efforts to support Ukraine militarily, conducts oversight of security assistance, monitors allegations of war crimes, and examines U.S. and international policies to deter further Russian aggression.
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