Can you believe it, Putin declined my carefully reasoned military advice of 8 weeks ago!
... much as he evidently wanted to achieve more, Putin's orders must surely now be: Define a defensible subset of what we now occupy - categorically including whatever it takes to water Crimea. Dig in; set up the resupply lines; and hold that territory to the last mercenary. Lay waste and abandon the rest.
... and plugged on with his "main aim" (as hastily re-defined shortly after the attack on Kyiv foundered in such a humiliating manner), being to take the whole of the Donbas. In practical terms this meant rolling up the major Donbas towns of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk which, 8 weeks later he has just "achieved" (by levelling the former and all-but levelling the latter) - at a formidable cost in blood and treasure ... and time.
Although he was always going to be able to do this - he has the artillery - this was a highly questionable enterprise. At best, he's gained a PR point for use with his compliant home media. (Nobody else is even slightly impressed, and his homegrown 'milibloggers' are scathing.) At worst, his casualties may very well force his hand as regards some kind of call-up by stealth, should he wish to carry through with his stated whole-Donbas objective.
The aforementioned towns were not at all ideal for the defenders. Even so, the Ukrainians inflicted high casualties on the attackers, as street-by-street fighting does - the very reason Soviet military doctrine was clear that it should always be avoided. And (unlike at Mariupol), the surviving defenders were able to withdraw before total encirclement, their job complete.
But the next objectives to the west will be a different story, despite all the diversionary hints of reopening the fronts at Kharkiv and Kyiv. In particular the next target necessarily to be engaged (if he seriously intends to take the whole of Donbas) is the area around Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, an even better-prepared killing ground than the two riverside towns that have occupied him for two months. And Ukraine is tooling up with long range artillery. As noted here and elsewhere many times already, Russia has proved itself surprisingly inept at the offensive; and such "lessons" as it may have learned in the field during the "victories" in built-up, unfortified Mariupol, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk will not serve for very much in the next phase. Everything the Russians plan is being telegraphed to its opponents and meticulously prepared-for: up and down, up and down, fly the planes of NATO aerial reconnaissance.
How much of his airforce is he willing to hazard in this operation? What can he hope to achieve before winter, when his gas-supply weapon finally comes into its own against his NATO tormentors? Unhappy will be the troops of the first echelon for the next stage of Putin's adventure.