Both sides started the year with lofty ambitions: Russia wanted to capture the eastern Donbas region, while Ukraine aimed to split Russian forces with an attack in the south.
Neither offensive has gone to plan. The front line, after months of combat and heavy casualties, remains largely unchanged.
Less territory changed hands in August than in any other month of the war, according to an analysis of data from the Institute for the Study of War. While Ukraine made small gains in the south, Russia took slightly more land overall, mostly in the northeast.
Across the front line, every mile of territory has been a grinding fight, with no repeat of the rapid breakthrough that Kyiv managed in Kharkiv in September 2022, when Russia's defenses collapsed after a surprise Ukrainian counterattack.
Russia and Ukraine have faced similar challenges this year. Both sides are fighting for positions that have remained largely entrenched for months or even years in some parts of eastern Ukraine. Seasoned troops and commanders who were killed earlier in the war have been replaced with new recruits who often lack sufficient training.
Ukraine's counteroffensive has struggled to push forward across the wide-open fields in the south. It is facing extensive minefields and hundreds of miles of fortifications — trenches, anti-tank ditches and concrete obstacles — that Russia built in the winter to slow Ukrainian vehicles and force them into positions where they could be more easily targeted.
When both sides' gains are added up, Russia now controls nearly 200 square miles more territory in Ukraine compared with the start of the year. Russia controls about 18% of Ukraine — a swath of land larger than Switzerland.
Rather than seeking rapid gains, the Russian military appears to be comfortable holding the territory it already controls, according to Marina Miron, a postdoctoral researcher in war studies at King's College London. "It's not losing anything by not moving forward," she said.
Last month, Emma Tucker, the new editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, gathered the newsroom to share a blunt message: The media industry had morphed "beyond recognition," and the Journal needed to adapt or be left behind.
"We don't want to be the German car industry of news publishing," she joked to the hundreds of staff members listening.
Tucker, who took over as top editor in February, was addressing a group that had been, to a large degree, tentatively optimistic about its energetic new boss. But many were also unnerved by the speed of the changes she had already made to traditions some viewed as core to the character and success of the Journal, one of the world's premier business publications.
At least 15 veteran editors and writers have left the paper in recent months. Long-held stylistic practices, such as the use of courtesy titles in articles, were disposed of overnight. The Journal's chief enterprise editor, who had veto power over which big investigative pieces were published and which were discarded, was pushed out.
In the meeting with the newsroom Sept. 21, a recording of which was obtained by The New York Times, Tucker signaled that more changes were ahead as she oriented the outlet to better serve a digital audience and tried to shake off what she viewed as unnecessary stuffiness.
The goal, she told them, is to add many new online subscribers by delivering readers expertise and "distinctive" journalism. The organization faces ever-declining print circulation, lower social media traffic and strong competitors, she said, but its current mostly male and older subscriber base means there is a "robust" market of possible new readers.
"We need to make our journalism more accessible without in any way diluting the standards or integrity of the reporting," Tucker said in an interview a day after she addressed the newsroom. "And I think it's possible to do both."
Although the outlet started the digital race strong as one of the first newspapers to put its content behind a paywall in the mid-1990s, it has made only halting progress in adapting its newsroom as digital readers become the bulk of its subscribers. The Journal now has more than 4 million total paid subscribers, including 3.4 million digital-only subscribers. The Washington Post has fewer than 3 million total subscribers, while The New York Times has nearly 10 million.