When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Vladimir Putin hoped to seize the capital, Kyiv, and the rest of the country in a blitz lasting only days or weeks. Kyiv resisted the onslaught, and 100 days on Putin now has his sights set on a military victory in the east and south as the conflict develops into a protracted war of attrition with no end in sight.
A little over a month into the invasion, Russia effectively acknowledged its failure and pulled troops back from areas near Kyiv, declaring a shift of focus to the eastern Donbas region, where the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces have a significant Russian population.
Moscow has succeeded in seizing significant chunks of territory around the Crimean Peninsula that it annexed eight years ago. It has also cut Ukraine off completely from the Sea of Azov, finally securing full control over the key port of Mariupol after a nearly three-month siege that devastated the city.
Russia has now concentrated its firepower on Severodonetsk, the last major population center still held by Ukrainian forces in Luhansk province, in a push to achieve one of Putin’s stated objectives after 100 days of the war. Achieving his goals in the east is the minimum the Russian president needs before he can end the operation and claim it a success.