There’s an aspect of the current Russia/Ukraine war that is seldom addressed.
I’ve seen analysts wondering why Ukraine isn’t tactically retreating and regrouping their forces, instead giving them the suicidal orders to stand and fight until they are destroyed or forced to surrender. One argument was that they are buying time for some kind of reinforcement army to arrive from the west and turn the tide of war, but that’s nonsense, because there isn’t any army in the West that will save them. That’s obvious from the fact that all the new weapons and reinforcements are immediately sent to the Donbass front line.
The actual reason is that their positions in Donbass have been heavily fortified over the years, and those fortifications are their greatest assets. The second greatest asset that they have is Putin’s reluctance to hit civilian targets, which they are abusing by hiding in populated areas which greatly limits Russian ability to use heavy weaponry to dig them out. Basically, it’s not really a war of equal parties; it’s a situation similar to a fox or an eagle trying to dig out a small animal that is hiding in a hole in the ground. Of course the small animal is not “tactically retreating”, because the moment it leaves the hole in the ground, it’s dead. The only place the Russians are having a problem with them is a reinforced concrete hole in the ground surrounded by apartment buildings full of innocent people. The only “tactical maneuver” Ukraine has at their disposal is to fire at Russian positions from a civilian building, and if the Russians fire back, they make a video with dead civilians and upload it to the Internet, and they wait for something to change geopolitically with the passage of time, for instance a new front opening in Lithuania or Moldova, NATO entering direct hot war with Russia and so on. Basically, they are a groundhog or a meerkat hiding in the underground tunnels, while an eagle is camping at the exit, ready to eat them if they try to make a run for it, and they are counting on something changing if they wait long enough, because it’s not like they can do much about it in any case. There have been attempts by both Ukraine and America to distract the Russians and try to force them to change the winning strategy – bomb civilians in Donbass, attack that tiny island outpost in the middle of nowhere, cook up trouble in Moldova and Lithuania, and so on; it’s not working, because the Russians actually know how to wage wars, apparently. They are very unlikely to change their pattern of action before they retake the entirety of Donbass, and before they completely destroy all the Ukrainian fortifications and troops there. Only then would I expect them to say that “phase 2” is complete, and it’s anybody’s guess what they would do next. It’s very obvious what they are doing now – they are taking their sweet time digging the groundhog from a hole in the ground, because they have all the time in the world, they don’t want to do risky things that would have them lose men and equipment, they don’t want to endanger the civilians more than absolutely necessary, and the enemy is doomed anyway so they might as well win at the smallest possible cost to themselves. It’s not like they have long supply lines that cost them money; for them, it’s basically home turf, and they have endless supplies of fuel, food and equipment. Basically, the longer this takes, the more troops they get to rotate through the war and have them gather experience, and NATO is seriously bleeding assets on the other side, in a situation where they can’t afford it.