Speed Reads

Remember Afghanistan

U.S. and Britain reportedly believe the Ukraine war could last 10-20 years, become a Russian quagmire

As the sun rises on a seventh day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a 40-mile-long Russian military convoy appears stalled about 20 miles north of Kyiv, and the Ukrainian-held cities of Kharkiv, Kherson, and Mariupol are encircled. Russia also intensified its bombing of cities on Tuesday, including in civilian areas. Footage "of the aftermath of a missile strike that hit Kyiv's main TV tower and a nearby Holocaust memorial showed a gruesome scene of blown-out cars and buildings and several bodies on fire," The Washington Post reports

Despite Moscow's "shambolic start to its military campaign, most Western officials and analysts believe Russia will turn to criminal siege tactics and eventually find a way to break through Ukraine's fierce and valiant resistance," Politico's Alex Ward writes. A U.S. official tells CBS News that Russia could tactically seize Kyiv and Ukraine in four to six weeks.

Still, "given the durability of the Ukrainian resistance and its long history of pushing Russia back, the U.S. and Western powers do not believe that this will be a short war," CBS News reports. "The U.K. foreign secretary estimated it would be a 10-year war. Lawmakers at the Capitol were told Monday it is likely to last 10, 15, or 20 years — and that ultimately, Russia will lose." 

A long, drawn-out quagmire would obviously be bad for Russian President Vladimir Putin and for Ukraine's citizens, but it also has repercussions for President Biden, CBS's Margaret Brennan noted Tuesday night. 

Emily Harding, a former National Security Council staffer, warned Tuesday that the U.S. and Europe should prepare for 8-10 years of economically disruptive conflict in Ukraine, Roll Call reports. If the U.S. sticks with Ukraine and supports its shadow war, "Russian casualties will be through the roof," former CIA Afghanistan operations chief Michael Vickers told the same CSIS audience. "This could be an insurgency that is bigger than our Afghan one in the 1980s in terms of things we could provide them that would really hurt Russia."

"There is not going to be a Vichy Ukraine," former U.S. Ukraine Ambassador John Herbst told the Post. "There may be an effort to create it but the Ukrainians are not going to go gently into the good night. They are going to fight like hell."

One question going forward, "Is Putin willing to go full barbarian on Ukraine or full Strangelove on nuclear stuff?" Herbst said. "And question two is: Will the military apparatus carry out such instructions?"