The Russo-Ukraine War has reached its 18-month mark with no end in sight. Neither side, for now, has a convincing route to a military victory. The Ukrainian offensive, which began in June, was presented as a means to liberate a substantial amount of territory from Russian occupation, and potentially cause a crisis in Russian military confidence that might oblige Moscow to recognise that the game was up, and that it was time to cut its losses.
This prospect was always optimistic, not only because of the difficulties of retaking well-defended territory but because of Vladimir Putin’s reluctance to admit defeat even when his army suffers setbacks. Recently a new narrative has started to take hold in some commentaries on the state of the war, notably from Pentagon officials, to the effect that the offensive is turning out to be a deep disappointment. Questions are now being raised about whether this is a war that Ukraine can ever win. Perhaps it is Kyiv that should be looking to cut its losses, conceding territory in return for peace.