Denied easy victory, Russia presses reduced goals in Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) – More than three weeks into his invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initial aim of an easy regime change in Ukraine is long gone.

But Russia’s military still has a strong hand. Military analysts warn that with its greater might and stockpile of city-flattening munitions, Russia’s military can still fight for what the Russian president may plan next, whether that’s leveraging a negotiated settlement or brute destruction.

Michael Clarke, former head of the British-based Royal United Services Institute defense think-tank, predicts that even in what Clarke calls a dreadful mess, Putin’s instinct will be to double down.