After months of arduous stagnation along the front lines, two Ukrainian counter offensives — one in the south near Kherson and another in the east near Kharkiv — have recently driven Russian soldiers back.

As Ukrainian troops continue to retake substantial portions of land from a Russian military that seems to be in shock, the eastern Kharkiv offensive has been especially effective.

The tenacity of Ukrainian troops so far, how Ukraine managed to surprise the Russian military outside Kharkiv, and Russia's response to what may be a significant turning point in the continuing battle are all examined by USIP's Mary Glantz.

Without the Russians' knowledge, Ukraine looks to have pulled off an operational surprise by gathering a sizable army and weapons for an invasion (or responding).

Earlier, Ukraine had announced preparations for a significant counteroffensive in the south, close to Kherson. In response, Russia sent troops to stave against the anticipated Ukrainian advance.

Ukrainian troops carried out a series of attacks behind Russian lines before that southern assault, blowing out ammunition storage facilities and bridges that were used to feed Russian front-line battalions.

At the end of August, when Ukraine finally began the southern counteroffensive, they said that they had crossed the Russian front lines, but details were few and the movement seemed to be sluggish.

In comparison, the Kharkov counteroffensive in the east in early September was far more unexpected and seems to have taken the Russians off guard. Russian soldiers were in danger of being encircled after Ukrainian forces managed to advance far into their positions.

Ukraine could retake important places like Izyum because Russian forces left, taking their guns and ammunition with them. The Ukrainian conquest of Izyum, according to analysts at the Institute for the Study of Conflict, "dooms the original Russian campaign strategy for this phase of the war."

Early this summer, reports said that morale had plummeted in both Ukrainian and Russian combat groups due to months of grueling fighting in the Donbas, leading to an upsurge in both of their respective desertions. According to reports, Ukrainian morale has soared in the aftermath of their astounding victory in Kharkiv.

The wins speak for the amazing tenacity of the Ukrainian army on the battlefield. On the one hand, you would anticipate that they would be more driven than their Russian counterparts since they are defending their homes and family.

On the other hand, such elements don't adequately account for their performance. It is obvious that Ukraine's involvement in U.S. and NATO training has been beneficial; the Ukrainian military has shown itself to be a highly capable force that is well-managed.

The Ukrainian military effort has also relied heavily on international assistance. First off, Russia's capacity to fix and replace military hardware, weapons, and ammunition it used or misplaced in Ukraine has been seriously hampered by the sanctions imposed on it.

Second, these Ukrainian victories on the battlefield would not have been possible without the military support provided by the United States and others.

Long-range artillery, such as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), has been crucial in Ukraine's successful targeting of Russian command and control and supplies.

Russian ammo stockpiles and Russian military leadership were destroyed by the Ukrainian military using HIMARS in the weeks before the Ukrainian counter offensives.

These are two resources that are extremely difficult for Russia to restore and are essential for their military to be successful. As a consequence, we saw a significantly diminished Russian military performance against Ukrainian strikes, especially in the east.

Russians in Moscow were having a good time while celebrating the 875th anniversary of the city's establishment while Russian soldiers were purportedly fleeing from Ukrainian forces in northeastern Ukraine.

To put it another way, Russians on the whole don't react to concerns about Moscow's capacity to win the conflict in Ukraine. The majority of Russians seem to be unconcerned with the conflict or committed to President Putin's agenda in Ukraine.

The Russian legislators and commentators who have taken note and seem to care are reacting by harshly criticizing the performance of the Russian military.

These "nationalist" Kremlin backers, like Igor Strelkov, a former commander of Russian-backed troops in Donetsk, want Russia to retaliate more aggressively and engage in a more extensive conflict in Ukraine. They take issue with the Kremlin even referring to it as a "special military operation."

Increased widespread and indiscriminate use of artillery and bombing, as well as increased Russian populace engagement via military mobilization, would be part of a more aggressive Russian policy in Ukraine.

Some State Duma members have previously called for a mobilization, but they soon pulled it back, saying they only meant an economic or social mobilization, not a military one. This implies that their petitions were likely a Kremlin test to determine how the populace would respond to similar requests.

Right now, it seems the Kremlin will make some modest concessions to its allies on the right. By hitting vital infrastructure and even more civilian targets, the Russian military is likely to make life considerably worse for Ukrainian residents.

We saw the start of this last week when Russian forces attacked a dam in Kryvyi Rih and power plants in Kharkiv. To spread the responsibility for the previous setbacks, the Kremlin may potentially seek a partial mobilization and make staff changes.