After blunting Ukraine's counteroffensive from the summer, Russia is building up its resources for a new stage of the war over the winter, which could involve trying to extend its gains in the east and deal significant blows to the country's vital infrastructure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be hoping that relentless military pressure, combined with changing Western political dynamics and a global focus on the Israeli-Hamas war, will drain support for Ukraine in the nearly 2-year-old war and force Kyiv to yield to Moscow's demands.
“As far as the Russian leadership is concerned, the confrontation with the West has reached a turning point: The Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed, Russia is more confident than ever, and the cracks in Western solidarity are spreading,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, senior fellow with Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, in a recent analysis.
An aid package for Ukraine has stalled in the U.S. Congress as Republicans insist on linking any more money to U.S.-Mexico border security changes opposed by Democrats. The European Union last week failed to agree on a $54 billion package in financial help that Ukraine desperately needs.
Amid these signs of fraying Western support, Russia has ramped up its pressure on Ukrainian forces on several parts of the more than 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line.
“The Russian military since October has been trying to seize initiative…