In wars throughout history, there are events that shift the balance and that we look back on as moments when everyone’s expectations and awareness of the conflict changed: the storming of the beaches at Normandy, the battle of Gettysburg, and so on.
Here’s hoping Ukraine’s offensive in the eastern part of the country over the last few days enters this pantheon of pivotal moments in conflict. Ukrainian forces quickly and decisively routed the invading Russians over a large chunk of territory that included the strategically significant cities of Izyum and Kupiansk, taking back more territory in a week than the Russians had captured since April, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
The stunning victory is significant enough from a purely territorial perspective, but an equally lasting impact might be the tonal shift in the war. Russian troops, many newer recruits brought in to replace Russia’s huge losses earlier on in the war, reportedly dropped their weapons and abandoned their posts in desperation. Even committed Putin allies like Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov can barely contain their frustrations, and thousands of pro-Russian factions in occupied territories have fled, further eroding the long-term viability of a Russian presence.