Comment: Six months into the war in Ukraine, could a military stalemate lead to diplomatic breakthroughs?

BIRMINGHAM: On Wednesday August 24, six months have passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order to launch what he called a “special military operation” against Ukraine.

It is also Ukraine’s Independence Day, celebrating the day its parliament declared its separation from the Soviet Union in 1991, months before the official collapse of the USSR.

Six months into the war, the two sides faced a stalemate – both strong enough to prevent the other from winning, but not strong enough to secure a decisive victory on the battlefield.

After initial territorial gains, Russia was held up by logistical problems and the Ukrainians determined to resist the invaders. It withdrew from around Kyiv in late March, redeploying troops to Donbass and consolidating control along the Black Sea coast.

Since then, Russia has succeeded in occupying the entire Luhansk region but has made relatively little progress in the Donetsk region. Ukrainian counter-offensives around Kharkiv in the north and on the west bank of the Dnipro river in the southern region of Kherson have progressed since late May.

But there was no major breakthrough that would signal an impending collapse of the Russian war effort.

Could this signal a potential return to negotiations?


The last time the two sides had meaningful, if ultimately inconclusive, negotiations on ending the war was in late March and early April in Turkey, facilitated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish mediation, however, remained important. In late July, she successfully brokered a deal to revive Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports that had been blocked by Russia.