Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Shell shops in Siversk, eastern Ukraine.
Shell shops in Siversk, eastern Ukraine. (Nic Robertson / CNN)

There are many observations that need to be made about Ukraine. But on a recent road trip, one realized – how big the country is.

A three-week drive from south to east across this vast country through villages, towns, past trenches and along fences, the strategic equivalent of this war is an education and is one that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use.

Almost six months on, the catastrophic war he launched is stagnating. Scenes reminiscent of World War I trench warfare and its associated increased gains and deaths are unfolding.

The nearly 1,000-mile battle front that Putin opens has turned tough, but the country behind is deep, and largely unscathed.

30 miles from the front, the city lawns are still being trimmed, While hundreds of miles away in the capital Kyiv, luxury restaurants have reopened, offering fine wines and chilled champagne, and menus of freshly caught Mediterranean fish.

This is a fertile, fertile land Proud farm and crop rich from rain and sun. If strategic depth is what lies behind the front lines, then Ukraine has an untapped wealth at its disposal.

Perhaps most striking is the number of men of military age across the country who have yet to join the fight. Ukraine is at war, but it doesn’t seem to have happened yet. Only some of Ukraine’s potential combat forces are in bunkers buried in trees overlooking Russian forces.

Cobblers, authors, artists, teachers, entrepreneurs, journalists, even a former McDonald’s franchise CEO, are thwarting Putin’s push, but when the government needs it there will be plenty. Others may be called upon.

The big takeaway is, this isn’t a war that’s going to end quickly, it’s not even clear if the defining war has actually begun.

Read full analysis here.

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