The Russians went into Ukraine with overwhelming force and have gotten seemingly bogged down, but I felt they would conquer the country eventually. Now they seem to be pulling back into defensive positions on the eastern and southern parts of the country. Aer they just waiting for re-enforcements to start forward again or are they going to reman in in those parts of the country they control and leave it at that? It kind of reminds me of Vietnam when people said we should declare victory and go home, which s essentially what we did. What di Nixon call it, "Peace with Honor". You tell me what is going on and what are the Russian's next moves if any?
The Russians wanted a rapid seizure of Ukraine in order to replicate the success they had in 2014 when they faced minimal opposition, and by the time Ukraine mobilized a response the Russians were able to smash it into pieces.
The Russians however drastically underestimated Ukrainian willingness to resist and overestimated their own abilities. The Russians evidently did not foresee this; a significant chunk of the forces they sent into Ukraine were not regular Russian military forces but internal security forces; Rosgvardia and paramilitary forces not really suited for conventional combat. Coupled with the rapid insertion and focus on seizing key objectives, it's pretty clear the Russians were counting on dismantling Ukraine's ability to effectively resist then focus on securing the country with stability operations.
When the initial plan failed the Russians had to commence their assault with conventional ground forces, but it quickly became clear that there was a severe imbalance in preparation and readiness. While forces of the 58th Combined Arms Army in the south made good progress, units from the Eastern Military District coming from Belarus generally advanced ad hoc and in poor order, resulting in desultory attacks that the Ukrainians were able to repulse. The 1st Guards Tank Army attacked in the direction of the Kharkiv Front but made limited progress in many areas, which is partially to be expected given the presence of large numbers of Ukrainian forces in the area.
The Russians really threw out their own book here and it shows. They committed to multiple axis of advance in too many directions that their logistics couldn't support, and it shows. They've lost hundreds of vehicles to break downs and fuel shortages while the morale of the average Russian soldier has been particularly poor. The Russians finally accepted the failure of their initial effort by mid-March and reverted back to their grid-smashing tactics that worked well in 2014, where they simply exploit their superior firepower to annihilate the Ukrainians. It's not very efficient, but it gets the job done and that's all that counts in the end.
But the failure of the initial Russian effort have exposed some persistent flaws in the Russian war machine. Outside of their elite infantry Russian troops are not particularly special, and they lack the flexible tactical doctrine to adapt to rapid changes. They also lack a strong NCO corps, which would normally be the guys making sure troops are properly spaced, their vehicles are positioned correctly, remind them to clean their weapons, and so on. The Russian Air Force has also been unable to prevent the Ukrainians from flying sorties, which have included airstrikes on Russian forces.
By last week the Russian offensive had finally ground to a halt as they encountered increasingly stiff resistance around major urban areas they were trying to capture, and the Ukrainians responded with several counter-offensives that have pushed the Russians back in a few sectors. Moscow, already reeling from Western Sanctions, has declared it only has limited objectives and has started transferring troops to the southern and Donbas fronts where its forces have done better. This is a sensible decision, as it will ease the logistical burden of their forces, but also signals a major defeat for the Russians and their hopes of capturing Kiev quickly.
Right now the Russians are rotating their troops forward and out to try to stabilize their lines while avoiding leaving their positions exposed. In the south they're pushing up reinforcements from the 49th Combined Arms Army to supplement the exhausted 58th Army. The Ukrainians have counter-attacked at Kherson and have driven the Russians back near Kiev. The front right now is a bit of a stalemate, but expect a major Russian push against the east and south once they have consolidated their forces.