WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recent reports from the war in Ukraine outline intense fighting for important eastern Ukrainian territories. While the Russian forces continue to press on, researchers told congressional members the fight is at a critical moment.
“We are at a pivotal moment in this war,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R- MS).
In a recent congressional Senate hearing, the focus was on the conflict in Ukraine.
“Currently localized assaults in the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia Oblast are to bring these regions in full occupation and to keep Ukrainian forces engaged,” said Dara Massicot, Senior Policy Researcher for the RAND Corporation.
Reports from the front lines said both sides are fighting hard for parts of Ukraine’s eastern territory. Experts told Senators they believe Russia will continue the fight for a long time to achieve Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of conquering Ukraine altogether.
“At a minimum, Russia wants to take control of the Donbas region,” said Dr. Angela Stent, Director Emerita, Georgetown University Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies. “The Donetsk and Luhansk provinces which have been partially occupied by Russia since 2014. The next would-be total control of two new regions which he has declared are annexed to Russia: Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, an artificial red line. Then Putin might sit down and negotiate for a ceasefire. But make no mistake, that would only be temporary.”
While other European allies have contributed to Ukraine’s efforts, the U.S. has been the biggest supplier. Experts warn there’s a growing sense of uncertainty abroad and at home of why the U.S. and our allies should continue to help Ukraine.
“The reasons for American interests are many: the war threatens the American-led international order,” said retired Lt. General Keith Kellogg. “We cannot be secure in our leadership role if we allow a war of regression to progress and persist and a major sovereign state with a potential for Russian victory.”
“This is about international stability and a world where rules are observed rather than the disruptive world one where Putin wants where there are no rules,” said Dr. Stent.
Experts believe Russia will continue to recruit more people to build up their forces. Even if they grow in numbers, experts believe that Putin will rush them to the front lines, which will not be as impactful as they hope.