Major Ukrainian cities held out through another night of tough fighting, again foiling Russian plans for a quick takeover and subsequent installation of a puppet regime, but time remains a key factor as the international community continues to announce new planned shipments of weaponry and other military supplies. In an interview, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said the city is now fully encircled by the Russian military, preventing evacuations and threatening food supplies; Klitschko, however, later walked back those statements vigorously.
New promised deliveries include up to 2,700 anti-tank weapons from Denmark, with an additional 5,000 anti-tank weapons, an equal number of body armor kits, and 135,000 field rations from Sweden. Ukrainian defenders appear to have inflicted significant damage on Russian armor, and Russia still appears to be struggling to meet supply challenges, leaving behind abandoned equipment after fuel or other supplies run out.
(Analysis continues below the updates.)
The precise reasons for Russia's seeming inability to mount their own planned offensive remain hotly debated, but are seen by many as an indictment of the competence of Russia's leadership and the results of staggering corruption. In any case, Russian autocrat Putin has stumbled into a nightmare of his own design, showing Russia's vaunted military forces to be far less capable than NATO and other Russian opponents had estimated them to be.
A massive Russian convoy of tanks and infantry vehicles was seen on Sunday satellite images just a short distance from Kyiv, which may signal a renewed Russian attempt to take the city in coming hours.
As Ukraine fights to prevent Russia from taking major population centers, battles of a different sort are now looming in Moscow. The value of Russia's currency is plummeting as the European Union locks Russia's central bank out of the international markets, and sovereign wealth funds and corporations alike abandon Russian investments. That's already leading to runs on Moscow banks.
The EU is also moving to block Russian propaganda outlets Sputnik and RT and has barred Russian aircraft from travel over its member nations. But it is the economic damage that poses real threats to Moscow, cutting Russia off from world markets and threatening widespread chaos inside the country as the ruble's value suddenly craters. Even members of Putin's own government are expressing opposition to the war, a nearly unprecedented move in a nation in which Putin's opponents are assassinated with regularity.
The risk of sudden Russian escalation remains very high, as a humiliated Putin looks for new strategies that would turn the tide and end the embarrassment of seeing the nation's assembled military forces turned back by a far smaller, but far more determined, Ukrainian resistance. Those escalations could come in the form of new offensives that seek not to bypass population centers, but to level them. But Russia is in a corner, just as much as Ukraine is. Ukraine is facing a much larger military enemy; Russia, however, is facing worldwide economic retaliation and new weapons shipments from the west that could cause even more catastrophic damage—perhaps even enough damage to halt Putin’s plans.
Putin's war may now threaten his own hold on his country, as even allied oligarchs and kleptocrats weigh their loyalty against imminent economic ruin. But that is only if Ukrainian defenders can hold out long enough for new foreign weapons and supplies to inflict an even heavier toll on Russia's invading army.