Stalled, bloody offensive in Ukraine is becoming a ‘dreadful mess’ for Putin


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Stalled, bloody offensive in Ukraine is becoming a ‘dreadful mess’ for Putin
While Russia has been denied a swift victory and Ukrainian army maintains a fierce defense, Moscow still retains the upper hand, with no sign that the war will soon be over
By Ellen Knickmeyer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The signs are abundant of how Ukraine frustrated Vladimir Putin’s hopes for a swift victory and how Russia’s military proved far from ready for the fight. A truck carrying Russian troops crashes, its doors blown open by a rocket-propelled grenade. Foreign-supplied drones target Russian command posts. Orthodox priests in trailing vestments parade Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag in defiance of their Russian captors in the occupied city of Berdyansk.

Russia has lost hundreds of tanks, many left charred or abandoned along the roads, and its death toll is on a pace to outstrip that of the country’s previous military campaigns in recent years. Yet more than three weeks into the war, with Putin’s initial aim of an easy change in government in Kyiv long gone, Russia’s military still has a strong hand. With their greater might and stockpile of city-flattening munitions, Russian forces can fight on for whatever the Russian president may plan next, whether leveraging a negotiated settlement or brute destruction, military analysts say.

Despite all the determination of Ukraine’s people, all the losses among Russia’s forces and all the errors of Kremlin leaders, there is no sign that the war will soon be over. Even if Putin fails to take control of his neighbor, he can keep up the punishing attacks on its cities and people. Ukraine’s president said Russia is trying to starve Ukraine’s cities into submission and that Putin is deliberately creating “a humanitarian catastrophe.”