A Deep Defense Is Hard to Beat

How Russia Stopped Ukraine’s Momentum

A tank firing toward Russian troops in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, July 2023
Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy / Reuters

Many held high hopes for Ukraine’s 2023 summer offensive. Previous Ukrainian successes at Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson encouraged expectations that a new effort, reinforced with new Western equipment and training, might rupture Russian defenses on a larger scale and sever the Russian land bridge to Crimea. If it did, the thinking went, the resulting threat to Crimea might persuade Putin to end the war.

The results fell far short of such hopes. Although the summer brought some Ukrainian successes (especially against Russian warships in the Black Sea), there was no breakthrough on land. Limited advances were bought at great cost

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