By annexing the four Ukrainian oblasts, vowing to consider them as Russian territory, and escalating its offensive, Russia has taken the steps necessary to defeat Ukraine absent massive NATO intervention. From William Schryver at imetatronink.substack.com:
A different kind of war is about to begin.
First of all, it is well-established that, from July through August, there had been a fairly transparent buildup of freshly constituted Ukrainian and NATO-affiliated forces (“foreign volunteers”) in the northeast quadrant of Kharkov Oblast.
The vast majority of the Ukrainian force consisted of battle-naïve conscripts, a substantial proportion of which had received a few weeks of “accelerated training” at NATO bases in Poland, Germany, and Great Britain.
In addition, the lion’s share of NATO equipment delivered during that time was hoarded for this new army rather than being dispersed in other regions along the 1000 km line of contact from Kharkov to Kherson.
The total count of the Ukrainian forces assembled in the area remains somewhat uncertain, but appears to have been between 35,000 – 50,000, including approximately 5000 of the NATO-affiliated “foreign volunteers” who would ultimately serve as “shock troops” for the offensive.