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A stalemate in the Ukraine war could now be the best-case scenario, analyst says

Before the two-year anniversary of Russia's war against Ukraine, defense experts widely predicted that the conflict would settle into a stalemate in 2024, leading neither side to make or lose a significant amount of territory.

But just a few months into the year, Russia's sheer amount of manpower and weaponry have enabled it to grind down Ukraine's defenses and advance — particularly in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow captured the industrial city of Avdiivka and a number of smaller settlements in recent weeks.

Russia's recent momentum — and ongoing worries over Ukraine's weaponry and ammunition shortages, as well as stalled U.S. military aid — are now prompting concerns that a stalemate might even be the "best-case scenario" that Kyiv can hope for this year.

At worst, Ukraine could see Russian forces breaking through Ukraine's defensive positions along parts of the front line, one defense expert noted.

"Russia is gaining momentum in its assault on Ukraine amid stalled Western aid, making the coming months critical to the direction of conflict. In a worst-case scenario, parts of Kyiv’s front line could be at risk of collapse," Ben Barry, senior fellow for Land Warfare at the IISS defense and security think tank, said in an analysis in March.

He flagged that Russia’s success in taking the city of Avdiivka, along with its territorial gains since then, "raise the question of whether the Ukrainian assessment in late 2023 that the war would stalemate in 2024 may have been optimistic."

"Moscow’s willingness to take territory in the face of high casualty figures, coupled with a boost in output of artillery shells, is in contrast with a lack of sustained Western supply of artillery ammunition to Kyiv. Those dynamics have created the