Today in a fine Council on Foreign Relations panel forum on US-Russia Relations and Ukraine, there was remarkable consensus on these surprises: the failings on the Russian military; the military and political resilience of Ukraine; and the newly-found unity of the NATO allies in imposing diplomatic and economic sanctions.
Not surprising (in view of his past speeches, and past Russian military actions in Chechyna, and Georgia) is the determination of the Russian leadership, once resisted, to double down and reduce civilians and cities to rubble. The prognosis was that Ukraine will suffer very badly; the Russian military will suffer thousands of casualties; and there is no end game unless President Putin falls -- extremely unlikely. Russian demands are so extreme (taking all of Ukraine) that there is no diplomatic solution feasible.
Russian strategy was seen as failing: to split NATO and to restore the three Russias of the Czarist era to one empire (with Belorus and Ukraine). The invasion has instead united NATO and strengthened German foreign policy in particular.
Panelists were Richard Haas (presiding), Fiona Hill (former national security council senior staff), Amb. Ivo Daalder, and Prof. Mary Elise Sarotte (Johns Hopkins SAIS).
-- summary by Jeremy Lewis