As of yesterday, Ukraine is fighting a defensive war against Russia, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lughansk People's Republic. Putin moved troops into the latters' regions, and then came at the problem sideways by moving troops in through Belarus, to take cities including Kyiv and Pripyat, the home of the Chernobyl power plant. As I look at the map of Ukraine, the Borderlands, tracking announcements and independent footage from the war, I find myself quieted.
In Kharkiv, the subway stations have been converted, in an ad-hoc manner, into shelters for civilians who want nothing more than to rest. Telecommunications attacks are coupled with the bombing and infantry attacks on the region, making getting information out of Kharkiv by the cellular networks nigh-impossible. If I were asked what I thought Putin was doing, I would say he's taking everything east of the Dnieper River, and he intends to do so by exhausting the Ukrainian forces on the Eastern and Northern fronts, while moving troops in from the Black Sea to slowly cut the nation in half. In my uneducated understanding, Russia does not need to worry too much about a land war, but historically has struggled to hold its own in Naval affairs. The geographic limitations of having no warm-water ports of which to speak constrains the places which ships can be built, and controlled safe waters are necessary for general-readiness training.
It is to say, if I were asked what I think Putin is doing, I would have far more to say than what I think those in charge in Ukraine are doing. The Ukrainian military, ragged though it may be, is standing their own where they are able, even capturing entire motorized and infantry divisions in some locations. Media is currently slanted; if it's in English it's far more likely to report the Ukranian wins, and if it's in Cyrillic it's hit or miss the information is even accurate for anyone. But we are barely one day into this conflict, and Russia has already redrawn the maps, and condemned people to hunger and fear in the underground.
One cannot un-cut a rope, however. Russia has moved offensively beyond discussed and controversially-recognized territories, and in response the West flinched.