A new map and series of infographics created and published by The New York Times on Thursday shows a stalemated frontline stretching from southern Ukraine and across the entire east of the country. It also underscores that Russia exercises control over the vast majority of the territories of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia—which was a stated goal of Putin’s war aims.
The Times finds that “Less territory changed hands in August than in any other month of the war” and that “While Ukraine made small gains in the south, Russia took slightly more land overall, mostly in the northeast.” And in total, the report says, “When both sides’ gains are added up, Russia now controls nearly 200 square miles more territory in Ukraine compared with the start of the year.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald has highlighted the map, saying it shows “how virtually nothing has changed from 9 months of tragically deadly and expensive fighting in Ukraine throughout 2023.”
Additionally, the NY Times points out that the total amount of territory which changed hands since the start of 2023 (in Russia’s favor) is smaller than the size of New York City and smaller than Ukraine’s capital of Kiev.
“How much did we spend on that summer offensive again?” questioned Fox News pundit Laura Ingram.
Russian forces at this point control almost 20% (or more precisely, 18%) of geographic territory of Ukraine.
While Ukraine’s offensive which has been on since the start of the summer has clearly failed, as also just admitted in BBC, there’s little evidence that Russia is currently engaged in broad efforts to push its lines forward, deeper into Ukraine.
Amazing and sad chart from NYT on how virtually nothing has changed from 9 months of tragically deadly and expensive fighting in Ukraine throughout 2023:
Pink zones show parts of Ukraine occupied by Russia since January.
Blue shows gains by Ukraine. Red shows gains by Russia. pic.twitter.com/5y9oc7ZbOJ
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 28, 2023
One war analyst cited in the Times report underscored that it appears Russia is “comfortable” maintaining control of what it already possesses, and has laid miles of minefields and erected defenses which have proven a nightmare for the Ukrainians:
Rather than seeking rapid gains, the Russian military appears to be comfortable holding the territory it already controls, according to Marina Miron, a postdoctoral researcher in war studies at King’s College London. “It’s not losing anything by not moving forward,” she said.
Russia’s forces outnumber Ukraine’s nearly three to one on the battlefield, and with a larger population to replenish its ranks, Russia could see a prolonged defense as in its interests.
“The whole strategy in Ukraine is for the Russians to let the Ukrainians run against those defenses, kill as many as possible, and destroy as much Western equipment as possible,” she added.
In essence Russia can run out the clock while Ukraine faces continuing high rates of attrition, and weakening Western resolve, and a splintering NATO alliance.
Meanwhile Russia is set to raise defense spending by nearly 70% next year as it increasingly sees itself in a bigger de facto conflict with the West…
#UPDATE Russia said on Thursday that it plans to raise defence spending by almost 70% next year, funnelling massive resources into its Ukraine offensive to fight what it calls a “hybrid war” unleashed by the West ➡️ https://t.co/v6d7YhEF5I pic.twitter.com/QLAG6WE3De
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) September 28, 2023
Zelensky’s government, if and when it finally concedes that it must negotiate, will be forced to cede the four territories – or at least the bulk. New lines have been drawn and Russian forces aren’t going anywhere, no matter how many billions in western weapons and ammo are poured into Kiev—that’s at least according to the commentary of ‘realist’ observers.