Russia 'Has Failed' in Ukraine With Initial Military Campaign: Think Tank

Ukraine has "defeated" Russia's initial military campaign as Moscow's forces have "failed" in their objectives to capture the Eastern European nation's capital, Kyiv, and other major cities, a new report from a prominent defense and national security think tank assesses.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an internationally condemned invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Although Moscow appeared to believe that Ukraine would quickly fall to its military forces, the Ukrainian military and ordinary citizens have fiercely resisted and held back their advance.

While Putin reportedly thought his soldiers would quickly take control of Kyiv and oust Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's government, after more than three weeks of war, Russia has failed to capture any major cities. Zelensky's government also remains in place, with the Ukrainian president refusing to be evacuated and has stayed to lead his country in the fight against Russia instead.

"Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial Russian campaign of this war. That campaign aimed to conduct airborne and mechanized operations to seize Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and other major Ukrainian cities to force a change of government in Ukraine," a report released Saturday by the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War assessed. "That campaign has culminated. Russian forces continue to make limited advances in some parts of the theater but are very unlikely to be able to seize their objectives in this way."

The report went on to describe the current state of the war as a "stalemate," and says that "the initial Russian campaign to seize Ukraine's capital and major cities and force regime change has failed." While Russia may "continue efforts to restore momentum to this culminated campaign," the report goes on, it concludes that "those efforts will likely also fail."

Although the report highlights Russia's failure, it also warns that Putin's forces "will expand efforts to bombard Ukrainian civilians in order to break Ukrainians' will to continue fighting." The report contends that "the war will likely descend into a phase of bloody stalemate that could last for weeks or months."

The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense issued similar assessments in a Sunday update on the war. "Over the past week Russian forces have made limited progress in capturing these cities; instead, Russia has increased its indiscriminate shelling of urban areas resulting in widespread destruction and large numbers of civilian casualties," the ministry said on Twitter.

"It is likely Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower to support assaults on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses, at the cost of further civilian casualties," the ministry concluded.

Newsweek reached out to Russia's embassy for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

As the ground invasion of Ukraine failed to provide Russia with significant success, Moscow has steadily increased its air campaign against its Eastern European neighbor. Although Russia insists that its strikes are targeting only key military and government targets, hundreds of civilians have been killed.

Ukrainian soldier in Kyiv
A new report from a prominent think tank assessed that Russia "has failed" in its initial military campaign against Ukraine. Above, a Ukrainian soldier stands by a residential building that got hit by rocket debris on March 17 in Kyiv. Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images

An art school sheltering some 400 Ukrainians was bombed by Russia's forces on Sunday, officials in the Ukrainian city of Mauripol, where the school was located, said on an official Telegram channel. The number of casualties remains unclear.

Meanwhile, it's still unknown how many people survived a similar Russian attack on a theater on Wednesday. Between 800 and 1,300 people were sheltering in that cultural center when it was destroyed.