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Jess Frampton

Ukraine’s counteroffensive: Prospects for success, unity, and peace

I haven’t written about the war in Ukraine in a while, largely because not much has changed since my last dispatch on the subject 10 weeks ago. But now that we’re seeing signs that the start of the long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive is nearing, it’s time for me to tell you how I think it’s going to go and what it’ll mean for the trajectory of the war.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in St. Petersburg.

Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russian revenge vs. Ukrainian resolve

Vladimir Putin responded on Monday to Kyiv's (alleged) involvement in blowing up part of the only bridge connecting Crimea to Russia by unleashing fire and fury against Ukrainian cities.

Although some feared that attacking Crimea would push Putin to go nuclear, his retaliation was swift but conventional — and somewhat measured in terms of the actual damage done by an aggressor capable of wanton bloodshed. Also, Russia’s president blamed the blast on Ukrainian "terrorism," not the West, which means he doesn’t want to pick a direct fight with NATO.

How did we get here? Will it be a turning point in the war? And what might Putin do next?

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Cars burn after a Russian military strike in central Kyiv.

REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

What We’re Watching: Terror in Kyiv, World Bank/IMF meetings

Putin lashed out after Crimea bridge blast

On Monday, Russia unleashed a barrage of air strikes against major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa. Lviv, which had been considered a safe haven for those fleeing the fighting in eastern Ukraine, was also hit. Although we don't have a death toll yet, it'll be high because the attacks occurred during rush hour and targeted civilian areas. The missiles also destroyed critical infrastructure, knocked out power, and sent civilians into bomb shelters for the first time in months.

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