• Ukrainian troops have made meaningful advances against Russia’s invasion this month.
  • Seeking to save lives and equipment, Russian military commanders asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to retreat from Kherson.
  • Putin has denied the request and become more involved in the war, reports say. 

As he loses his grasp in his unprovoked war against Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved to further embed himself into the war’s strategic planning efforts — but his decision-making seems to contrast with those in the action.

Dismissing on-the-ground commanders’ pleas for soldiers to retreat, Putin has decided to remain in Kherson, a major Southern city in Ukraine, the last in Russian control, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The Times report said that withdrawing from Kherson would save lives and equipment, but would also be another blow to Putin’s waning plan to conquer the country. As such, the Russian president has immersed himself further into the strategic planning of the war, countering some of the wishes of Russian forces on the ground.

“In this war, there has been a consistent mismatch between Putin’s political objectives and the military means to attain them,” Michael Kofman, director of Russia studies at CNA, a defense research institute, told The Times. “At important decision points, Putin has procrastinated, refusing to recognize the reality, until the options turned from bad to worse.”

The US and UK have said that Putin’s latest actions — including threatening nuclear warfare and implementing a partial military mobilization — indicate his war efforts are failing.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian forces retook most of Kharkiv, forcing Russian troops to flee or attempt to disguise themselves as locals. The move marked a major victory for Ukraine as the numbers of Russian troops are dwindling as their morale fades. Likewise, a portion of Russia’s public appears to disapprove of the war as protests erupted in the country this week.

“The situation in Ukraine is clearly dynamic,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Times. “It’s too early for a full assessment, but it is clear to me that the strategic initiative has shifted to the Ukrainians.”

Despite the changing situation, Milley claimed that there is still a “long road ahead.”