Putin’s timeline for annexation is likely contingent on the extent to which he understands the degraded state of the Russian military in Ukraine. The Russian military has not yet achieved Putin’s stated territorial objectives of securing all of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and is unlikely to do so. Making that claim, however, likely necessitates Russian annexation of occupied territories, rather than creating additional proxy statelets in places like Kherson and Zaporizhia. If Russian forces fail to recognize that their Donbas campaign has culminated, the Russian military in Ukraine may be headed for an outright collapse. Poor morale and worse leadership have soundly degraded Russian forces; Ukraine should ideally counter-attack at the time of maximum Russian disorder before Russian forces have time to fully go over to the defensive and dig in.
Source: CNN May 13, 2022 19:24 UTC