Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, dubbed as a "special military operation".
The goal was to rapidly advance through Ukraine to capture the capital Kyiv and replace Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a puppet ruler. Formally, however, Putin said the objective was to "demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine".
In the initial weeks of Ukraine War, Russian forces reached the outskirts of Kyiv but were ordered to reorganise and redeploy to focus on Southern and Eastern Ukraine. Since then, Russian forces have largely focussed on capturing the eastern Donbas region, comprising Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Though Russia has carried out air strikes across Ukraine, including capital Kyiv.
Here we explain why Russian war objectives failed, what Russia is planning now, and what are the latest developments.
Why Russia's Ukraine War goals failed
Putin could not capture Kyiv and topple Zelenskyy's government. The Western help to Ukraine, the resolve of the Ukrainians, and poor war strategies and battle tactics of Russian military are some of the reasons.
Outlook earlier noted that Ukraine was preparing for such an invasion since 2014 when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea.
Outlook noted, "Ukraine had been in a state of conflict since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea and kindled a separatist movement in the country’s east. The country had since been preparing for a larger conflict with Russia by expanding its military, improving soldiers’ training with Western support, acquiring more weapons, and strengthening intelligence-sharing with US and NATO."
Moreover, the West has united to provide Ukraine with arms, ammunition, missiles, and now tanks are also being sent. Intelligence support has also been provided. Not just the Western governments but the private sector has also helped Ukraine. Elon Musk's SpaceX now forms the lifeline of Ukraine as its Starlink service provides satellite internet to Ukraine, which is used for military as well as civilian purposes.
It has also been highlighted that Russia undermined the invasion.
"Russia invaded Ukraine with an army far too small to wage a major war there. Although Putin for many months wouldn't acknowledge that his so-called special military operation in Ukraine was in fact a full-fledged war, he has certainly now done so in both in words and actions. His change of tack has been accompanied by a considerable strengthening of Russiaís army in Ukraine. The partial mobilisation of reservists has given the Russian army far greater human resources than it started with," noted Alexander Hill, Professor of Military History, University of Calgary, in an article in The Conversation.
Hill explains that from controlling all of Ukraine, the focus is now on securing the territories in the east.
He noted, "The Russian reservists are concentrated in the east of Ukraine, and they are on the defensive across most of the front lines. This defensive posture means fewer lives lost and more resources than the offensive operations across a wider front nearly a year ago. Russian offensive operations are now largely focused on trying to secure the remaining territory of Donetsk and Luhansk. Securing that territory was a core justification for the invasion."
Russia making grinding advances instead of rapid operations
In contrast to the initial phase where Russians advanced rapidly, the Russian forces are now making slow, grinding progress in the east. This suits the Russian military, notes Hill.
"The types of problems with the command and control of Russian troops at the beginning of the war have been reduced for operations of more limited scope. Typically less experienced and lacking extensive training, Russian reservists are better suited to the more limited and methodical operations of today. Russian forces also have considerable experience fighting the sort of artillery-heavy war now being fought," noted Hill.
Russia planning an offensive: Ukraine
The think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported Ukrainian government as saying that Russia is planning an offensive in the spring season.
Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) representative Vadym Skibitsky confirmed that the GUR has observed indicators that Russian troops are regrouping in preparation for a “big offensive” in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
"Skibitsky also reiterated that Russian forces are unlikely to launch an attack from Belarus or in southern Ukraine," reported ISW.
It further said the assessment underscores "the continued need for Western partner support to ensure that Ukraine does not lose the initiative to a renewed Russian offensive operation".
Ukraine War latest developments
Fighting is raging in several places in Eastern Ukraine's Dontesk and Luhanks provinces, which together comprise the Donbas region.
Publishing the map of ongoing fighting and latest information on territorial control, the ISW reported that significant fighting is on around Svatove, Spirne, and Pokrovske around Kherkiv.
The ISW reported a number of Russian gains in recent days.
The ISW noted, "Russian sources claimed that Russian forces captured Krasnopolivka on January 21...Geological footage indicates Russian forces occupy eastern Sil as of January 20.
"Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that Wagner Group forces captured Klishchiivka on January 19...Zaporizhia Oblast Occupation Deputy Vladimir Rogov claimed that Russian forces captured Mali Shcherbaky, Shcherbaky, Novoandriivka, Mala Tokmachka, and Bilohirye in Zaporizhia Oblast."
In the Donestsk province, the ISW reported that significant fighting is taking place around Berstove, Bakhmut, Konstyantynivka, Avdiivka, and Marinka.
Here are today's control-of-terrain maps of #Russia's invasion of #Ukraine from @TheStudyofWar and @criticalthreats.— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) January 23, 2023
Click here to see our interactive map: https://t.co/8RN8PxU2LCpic.twitter.com/XK55Fdg3kt
The UK Ministry of Defence in its update on Monday said Ukraine has so far recaptured 54 per cent of territory from Russia.
The MoD tweeted, "Ukraine has liberated around 54 per cent of the maximum amount of extra territory Russia seized since 24 February 2022. Russia now controls around 18 per cent of internationally recognised areas of Ukraine, including the Donbas and Crimea regions under Russian control since 2014."