President Vladimir Putin ominously warned Thursday that Russian forces haven’t even started fighting “in earnest” in Ukraine — as hi
President Vladimir Putin ominously warned Thursday that Russian forces haven’t even started fighting “in earnest” in Ukraine — as his offensive appeared to be slowing in the eastern part of the country.
“Everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest,” he told Kremlin lawmakers.
The comments came just days after Russian forces claimed control of Lysychansk, and with it the whole of Luhansk, one of the two provinces that make up the industrial Donbas region of Ukraine. The capture of the city brought Moscow closer to its stated goal of capturing the Donbas, which the Kremlin has declared independent of Kyiv.
But the Russian victories in the Donbas have come at a great cost, and Russian advances are beginning to slow.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington, DC think tank, said that by its estimation, Russia had failed to make any territorial advances inside Ukraine on Wednesday — the first time in 133 days of war that the Kremlin gained zero ground.
“The Russian Defense Ministry claimed territorial gains every day from the start of the war but has not claimed any new territory or ground force movements since completing the encirclement of Lysychansk on July 3,” the institute wrote.
Analysts at the think tank said Russian activities were consistent with an “operational pause” on major movements, and that “Russian forces will likely confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions” as they attempt to rebuild their offensive capabilities after weeks of hard fighting.
While Russia has taken large chunks of Ukrainian territory, the victories have come at the price of a four-month war effort marred by logistical failures, a retreat from the Ukrainian capital, and the loss of a Russian Navy flagship.
Amid the bluster of his Thursday speech, Putin appeared to reopen the door to a negotiated end to the conflict.
“We don’t reject peace talks,” he said. “But those who reject them should know that the further it goes, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.”
At the same time this week, emboldened by the arrival Western artillery and reports of Russian military losses, Ukrainian officials set a high bar for negotiations with the Kremlin.
On Twitter, Mykhailo Podolyak, Kyiv’s lead negotiator, gave a list of conditions that would get his delegation back to the table.
“Ceasefire. [Russian] troops withdrawal. Returning of kidnapped citizens. Extradition of war criminals. Reparations mechanism. Ukraine’s sovereign rights recognition,” he wrote.
With Post wires