The culmination of the Donbas battle is near. For the first time in this war, the pendulum starts swinging in Russia’s favor. By summer’s end, it’s possible that Moscow will fully secure its land bridge to Crimea. This would have catastrophic consequences.
The Russian land bridge would enable Putin’s control of the Black Sea coast from Crimea all the way to Georgia. The Ukrainian military must destroy the bridge. But it can only do so if the Biden administration shows itself ready to finally and properly stand up to Russia.
Why are things turning in the Donbas? The West is still far too slow in getting heavy weapons to the frontline. Ukrainians continue to fight ferociously, to be sure; but they remain overmatched in military capability.
Ukrainians slow down the invaders, yet Russia keeps making progress, killing as many as 100 Ukrainians every day. Industry is decimated; critical infrastructure is being torn up. Refugees are on the run. Moscow now occupies 20% of Ukraine.
Russia’s overarching aim remains the same: the destruction of Ukraine. We’re seeing that blocking the country’s capacity to export vital agricultural and industrial goods is but one element of the Russian strategy.
A fifth of Ukrainian territory occupied should remind us that in 2008, Russia occupied 20% of Georgian territory. After that, it settled into a ceasefire and has maintained its occupation ever since.
In Ukraine, Russia adjusted its war objective from the destruction of the capital to the obliteration and occupation of the Donbas. But we shouldn’t jump to conclusions: Kyiv is not off the hook. Since it lost the first battle of Kyiv, Moscow has been building up with its proxy in Belarus. From the border to Lviv is fewer than five hours by tank.
Photo by YEVGENY BIYATOV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images