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Russia’s Plan A in Ukraine failed. Here’s what Plan B could look like

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Ukrainians in the eastern city of Kharkiv take shelter in a basement on Sunday. The city, which is close to the Russian border, has been hard hit throughout the Russian invasion. Residents are bracing for a new Russian offensive in the eastern part of Ukraine. SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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A Ukrainian woman, Maria Korechko, touches the flag-draped casket of her son, Ukrainian soldier Andriy Zagornyakon, during his funeral on April 10, 2022 in Kamianka-Buzka, Ukraine. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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A Ukrainian multiple-rocket launcher fires shells toward Russian troops, near Lugansk, in the Donbas region, on Sunday. The Russians say their forces are concentrating on the eastern part of Ukraine, and heavy fighting is expected in the area. ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Learn More: Ukrainian zoo says monkeys and big cats among nearly 100 animals killed since invasion

A Ukrainian multiple-rocket launcher fires shells toward Russian troops, near Lugansk, in the Donbas region, on Sunday. The Russians say their forces are concentrating on the eastern part of Ukraine, and heavy fighting is expected in the area.

ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images

The Pentagon and European officials estimate Russia has lost somewhere between 20 to 30 percent of the combat strength it sent into Ukraine.

Xem Thêm : Ukraine official negotiating with Russia said the peace talks turned darker after evidence emerged of a massacre in Bucha

A test of endurance for both sides There are no signs the war will end quickly. Many military analysts are forecasting months of fighting. U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, testified to Congress last week that he expects the war to last years.

So how much endurance can each side can each side muster?

Watch more: Why the U.S. Doesn’t Mind India’s Notable Silence on Ukraine

On the Ukrainian side, about a quarter of the population has been driven from their homes, many cities and towns have been badly battered, and the economy is in ruins.

But the war has united Ukrainians, who’ve shown a strong will to fight, and no appetite for compromise, says Schake. “The overwhelming majority of Ukrainians want Russia pushed out of their country, and that’s a powerful force preventing a negotiated settlement,” Schake said. Russian leader Vladimir Putin didn’t get the quick and easy victory he expected, and now faces a protracted conflict as well as sweeping Western sanctions that are expected to shrink Russia’s economy by 10 percent or more this year.

Putin cut his losses and withdrew troops from northern Ukraine, opting to pursue scaled-back ambitions in the east, where pro-Russian forces have controlled territory in the Donbas region since 2014.

Putin still has the military resources to carry on the war indefinitely. And even if the war keeps going badly for Russia, Putin is likely to keep on fighting until he works his way through the “five stages of grief,” according to Gideon Rose. “Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance,” Rose said. “What ultimately has to happen is Putin has to accept defeat and choose to walk away, choose to retrench. And that is something that is a psychological process, not just a strategic process.” And that, he says, could take a long time. Greg Myre is an NPR national security correspondent who was based in Russia from 1996-99. Follow him @gregmyre1.

Learn More: Russia and Ukraine Are Fighting for the Legacy of World War II

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