Wednesday marks the 700th day since Russian tanks rolled across the border into Ukraine in Vladimir Putin’s latest invasion. It now seems ludicrous that officers in that initial “40-kilometer convoy” were told to bring dress uniforms to prepare for military parades in Kyiv.
But it wasn’t as silly as it now sounds. Military analysts around the world predicted that Russia’s conquest of Ukraine would look something like America’s shock-and-awe campaign in Iraq that saw just six weeks between the ground invasion and the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner. In fact, Russian intelligence wasn’t alone in thinking Ukraine would fall even more quickly.
Ukraine is a much smaller country than Russia, with fewer resources on every front. It lacked the protection of NATO or any other strong partnership. Its government had been wracked by waves of corruption and inefficiency, with a big boost from Donald Trump’s former campaign manager who helped put a deceptive pro-Russian regime in place for the better part of a decade. And in a previous confrontation, Russian forces had largely routed Ukrainian defenders, taking Crimea almost overnight.
The truth is, almost everyone expected Ukraine to lose—and lose quickly. Except the Ukrainians.
The next time anyone saw those Russian dress uniforms, they were being pulled out of tanks destroyed along the highway after Ukraine drove away Russian forces.
Putin couldn’t take Kyiv in three days. Or three weeks. Or three months. And he’s not going to take it in three years. Because he’s simply not going to win this war.