The Battle for Donetsk

The crisis in Ukraine is in a delicate phase. Initial Russian euphoria after the annexation of Crimea had a real basis. There were serious hopes for gaining colony enclaves or even annexing parts of eastern Ukraine.  But then came sanctions and then the downing of the Malaysian airliner and the mood shifted.

These changed circumstances provided Ukraine’s leadership with a choice. They could hold back and hope that Russia might negotiate or they could attack and try to force a negotiation. Attacking risked invasion. Holding back risked losing key parts of the country. They chose to attack.

The Russians have equivocated. They have supplied more weapons but they have not invaded. This remained the case even as Ukrainian forces began to take back strategic areas, and began to threaten Donetsk. If Donetsk falls, the Russian game is essentially over. Its bluff will have been called.

So the news of a high level meeting between Putin, the Ukrainian president and Germany’s Merkel next week is interesting. It may lead to a deal where Putin can save face. There is a chance. Let’s see how it plays out.


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