The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Why Can’t the West Admit That Ukraine Is Winning?

By Eliot A. Cohen

21 Mar 2022 · 7 min read

When I visited Iraq during the 2007 surge, I discovered that the conventional wisdom in Washington usually lagged the view from the field by two to four weeks. Something similar applies today. Analysts and commentators have grudgingly declared that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been blocked, and that the war is stalemated. The more likely truth is that the Ukrainians are winning.

So why can’t Western analysts admit as much? Most professional scholars of the Russian military first predicted a quick and decisive Russian victory; then argued that the Russians would pause, learn from their mistakes, and regroup; then concluded that the Russians would actually have performed much better if they had followed their doctrine; and now tend to mutter that everything can change, that the war is not over, and that the weight of numbers still favors Russia. Their analytic failure will be only one of the elements of this war worth studying in the future.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content