The Ukrainian military has withstood Russia’s invasion for roughly 2 1/2 months, and some experts now believe the country has a chance to win the war, though it’s not clear what victory might look like.

Ukraine’s military was able to endure the initial phase of Russia’s effort to topple Kyiv, the capital. While Russia has since refocused its efforts elsewhere, the U.S. director of national intelligence believes that could just be a temporary shift.

“I think [the Ukrainians] could definitely win,” John Hardie, a senior research analyst for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Examiner, but it “depends on how you define it.”


Hardie doesn’t expect Ukraine to retake the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from its neighbor in 2014, though he said he believes it could “definitely stop Russia from making additional significant gains.”

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, agreed, arguing that “there’s an excellent chance of them winning, which I would not have said a month or two months ago," though he also told the Washington Examiner that Crimea being restored to Kyiv's control was likely “off the table” and suggested a goal of returning to the “prewar boundaries.”

Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, characterized the fighting in the Donbas as a "stalemate" during testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

One of the overwhelming factors of Ukraine’s success thus far in the war has been the military assistance it has received from the United States and the western world. The U.S. alone, the leading provider of military aid to Ukraine, has totaled nearly $4 billion in assistance, and President Joe Biden has urged Congress to pass a new $33 billion spending bill, which has more than $20 billion for weapons, ammunition, and other military assistance.

In addition to providing weapons, the U.S. is also providing intelligence to the Ukrainians that have enabled them to attack the Movska, a key Russian battleship, and Russian generals, though the Pentagon has pushed back on the latter claim despite administration officials widely acknowledging that they have provided intelligence to them.

Berrier told lawmakers that in his estimation, between eight and 10 Russian generals have been killed in the war, while DNI chief Avril Haines, who testified alongside Berrier, expressed uncertainty as to whether Russian leader Vladimir Putin would be content with the Russian military only succeeding in the Donbas.


"Even if they are successful, we are not confident that the fight in the Donbas will effectively end the war," she explained. "We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine, during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas. We assess that Putin's strategic goals are probably not changed, suggesting he regards the decision in late March to refocus Russian forces on the Donbas [as] only a temporary shift to regain the initiative after the Russian military's failure to capture Kyiv."

Matt Kroenig, a professor at Georgetown and a former Defense Department official, told the Washington Examiner that he doesn’t believe Ukraine will be “reclaiming all their territory” and expects the war to end through a “negotiated settlement” that “reflect[s] the balance of power on the the ground.”