3/4 year later, 8/2023... we hear a lot about "stalemate", but it seems to me another case of west changing the definition of a word. Russia is fighting NATO and the US; Ukraine is just about irrelevant and Russia cannot afford to lose. It's difficult for me to see Russia settling for much different that what Putin outlined late 2021; NATO back to 1997. Enlighten me!

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This is very well done and fairly addresses the interests and perspectives of the actors involved. I do have a few quibbles though.

1st, I think that there is a significant faction within the USA that did expect Russia to invade Ukraine and did expect a quick Russian victory. I suspect that they were planning to support a Ukrainian insurgency.

The goals being to provoke Russia into attacking to make it easier to steer the international response, especially the EU. To bleed the Russian economy through sanctions and military losses in Ukraine and to ensure that Ukraine joined the west after the occupation failed.

I don't think that the USA expected Russia to limit itself to only taking four oblasts at first. I think that the USA was hoping to clandestinely cross Russia's red lines in 2014 and they were surprised when Russia took Crimea and the Donbass revolted. Russia responded more forcefully than the USA expected in 2014 and far more conservatively than expected in 2022.

2nd, I don't expect a stalemate. I expect a successful winter offensive to block western supply lines in eastern Ukraine, encircle the Donbass, take Odessa, and to capture or destroy the bulk of the Ukrainian army. I don't know if Russia plans to annex any oblasts not on the coast or what terms Moscow will offer Kiev, but I suspect that it will be mostly settled by the end of March 2023.

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