The efforts in the battle for the Donbas

While Russia is consolidating its forces into an offensive in eastern Ukraine, the temptation is to believe that efforts have shrunk for NATO and the West after Russia lost the battle of Kiev. But Vladimir Putin can still win a major victory that would leave him stronger and better able to threaten Ukraine, its neighbors and the Western alliance.

The Kremlin chief still has broad military ambitions, which one of his generals let go of last Friday. “Since the start of the second phase of the special operation… One of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine,” Major General Rustam Minnekaev was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. land corridor to Crimea, “the peninsula annexed Russia from Ukraine in 2014.

Most people have suspected that this is one of Russia’s war goals, although Mr Putin goes on to claim that he is merely trying to protect the Russian – speaking people of Ukraine’s Donbas region. Gen. Minnekaev lifted the veil, and not only on the goal in Ukraine.

“Control over southern Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are cases of Russian-speaking people being oppressed,” General Minnekaev said.

Transnistria is a Russian-speaking outbreak of Moldova, the small country between Ukraine and Romania that leans towards Europe. The Russian general says that if Russia conquers southern Ukraine, annexation of Transnistria, if not all of Moldova, will be next on the Kremlin menu.

Moldova summoned Russia’s ambassador to the capital, Chisinau, to protest the Russian general’s remarks, but no one notices doubts that what he said is true.

All this increases the efforts in the fight for the Donbas, as it means that Russia does not plan to be content with protecting the separatist oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk. Russia also wants to move to Odessa, Ukraine’s port on the Black Sea. If the Russians occupy the port of Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov, as they probably will after their brutal siege, then Odessa would be Ukraine’s last major maritime connection to global trade. Russian forces have tried to move towards Odessa, but have met fierce resistance.

If the Kremlin crushes Ukraine’s eastern army in the Donbas, it will be able to concentrate its forces for the march south. Once the south is conquered, Mr Putin may seek a ceasefire that will leave a quarter or a third of Ukraine in his hands.

Ukraine would be left as a backward state, more dependent on Western aid. He was able to hold his time while Western sanctions were eroded while re-arming and waiting for another chance to march on Kiev and assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Sir. Putin would then be in a better position to consider his options for challenging NATO solidarity. The most likely target is one of the Baltic states with an ethnic Russian minority and access to the Baltic Sea.

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All of this underscores how urgent it is to continue to supply Ukraine’s military, especially with heavy weapons such as long-range artillery, rocket launching systems, tanks, fighter jets and missile defenses. Weapons stocks are running low, and Ukraine will soon need ammunition and missiles directly from Western military assembly lines.

President Biden announced another $ 800 million in arms to Ukraine this week, and Congress will have to acquire more in the coming weeks. Military officials from 20 countries will meet next week in Germany to assess Ukraine’s needs and coordinate aid. This is useful as long as it does not violate the most risky mindset.

This is the time to give Ukraine everything it can handle to push for victory against Russia. The goal is to block Russian progress and inflict such losses that Mr Putin is forced to reconsider his war goals. He could escalate and try to involve NATO more directly, but that involves risks of more serious Russian losses.

Ukraine has paid dearly to protect its homeland in a war it did not choose. The West’s interest is a Ukrainian victory that pushes Russia out and lets its people decide their own destiny. Russia without Ukraine is a much less significant threat to NATO and the United States

Wonder Land: If President Biden is willing to say that the Russians are committing genocide in Ukraine, then why would he not say that his goal there is to defeat Russia or Vladimir Putin? Photos: AFP / Getty Images / Sputnik / Reuters / Roscosmos Space Agency Composite: Mark Kelly

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