There are many observations to be made about Ukraine. But on a recent road trip, one sticks out — just how vast the country is.
Three weeks of driving from south to east in this sprawling country through front line villages, towns, past trenches and along hedgerows which are this war’s strategic equivalent of high ground, is an education, and one that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use.
Almost six months on, the disastrous war that he launched is stagnating. Scenes reminiscent of World War I trench warfare and its associated incremental gains and death are taking hold.
The almost 1,000-mile-long battle front Putin opened has hardened, but the country behind is deep, and for the most part unscathed.
Thirty miles from the front, city lawns are still being mowed, while many hundreds of miles away in the capital Kyiv, fancy restaurants have reopened, where fine wines and chilled champagnes are available, and fresh caught Mediterranean fish is on the menu.
This is a fat land, with fertile farms and proud crops rich from rain and sun. If strategic depth is what’s behind the front lines, Ukraine has an untapped wealth available.
Perhaps most striking is the number of military age males across the country who are not yet committed to the fight. Ukraine is at war, but not yet it seems, all in. Only some of Ukraine’s potential fighting force are in bunkers buried in tree lines overlooking Russian forces.
Cobblers, authors, artists, teachers, businessmen, journalists, even a former McDonald’s franchise CEO, are holding back Putin’s push, but when the government needs it there are many more who can be called on.
The big takeaway is, that this is not a war that’s going to be over fast, not is even clear yet if the real defining fight has begun.