War in Ukraine: Russian conquest of Donbass before peace?

Three months after the start of the war in Ukraine, the Russians want to secure control of the Donbass River. The key to peace negotiations?

Three months after Vladimir Putin launched his “special operation” on February 24, the war in Ukraine could see a turning point in the coming hours. Having failed to obtain the planned surrender of the Ukrainians, the Russians are now concentrated in the east of the country, concentrating all their means to seize the Donbass and in particular the city of Severodonetsk, which can join Mariupol in the list of cities of mournful martyrs. After relentlessly bombarding Severodonetsk for several days, only about 15,000 civilians out of a population of 100,000 could fall into the hands of the Russians, ultimately constituting a victory for them after three months of setbacks in the face of Ukrainian resistance.

3 months of war in Ukraine

Kyiv was not wrong there, which calls for more heavy weapons to match Russia’s firepower, worried about the danger of a surplus. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted Wednesday evening that “the enemy is clearly superior in equipment and number of soldiers.” Ukraine in particular would like to have mobile units capable of sending several missiles simultaneously. In this area, the towns on the front line were depopulated, the rebels, and mostly the elderly, who spend most of their time hiding in cellars.

“The fighting has reached its maximum limit, and a long and very difficult phase awaits us,” Deputy Defense Minister Gana Maliar summed up in Kyiv yesterday, while Kharkiv was once again bombed.

“Putin will not be able to dictate peace,” says Chancellor Schulz.

Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday called for “support for a united Europe,” denouncing the lack of cohesion of the West in the face of this war, which has just entered its fourth month. Then, in his speech to the Davos summit via video link, the Ukrainian president called on his Western allies on Wednesday to stop sparing Russia or its interests. Whatever the Russian state does, there is always someone who says: let us take its interests into account. We must do everything possible until then […] “The interests of the Ukrainians are not superseded by the interests of those who are always in a hurry to rush to another date with the dictator,” he said, without naming Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin, who seems to want to accelerate his grip on Donbass as he did in 2014 in Crimea. Thus, Moscow announced that Russia would allow residents of the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions to apply for a Russian passport, which would mean frank annexation in Kyiv’s eyes, and a kind of “freezing” of the conflict under the circumstances. by Cheese Fries. German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said yesterday that he was “convinced” that Russia would not win the war it started in Ukraine.

    Russian soldiers patrol the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station in Kherson Oblast amid continuing Russian military action in Ukraine.

Russian soldiers patrol the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station in Kherson Oblast amid continuing Russian military action in Ukraine.
Agence France-Presse – Sergey Bobock

It is about making Putin understand that he will not be able to dictate peace. The German chancellor insisted that Ukraine would not accept this, and neither would we. The fact remains that Vladimir Putin, however isolated on the international scene, and regardless of his primary goals, has the cards at hand: In the absence of a European agreement to ban the import of Russian gas and oil, it has cash inflows that allow it to withstand economic and financial sanctions. Thanks to naval surveillance of the Sea of ​​Azov, Putin was able to block shipments of wheat, which London called “blackmail”. »

But after three months of conflict, there appears to be room for a return to diplomacy, which, as in any negotiation, will require concessions on both sides. But nothing can be done without a ceasefire, which is not yet on the agenda at the moment. Yesterday, Russia contemptuously rejected an Italian peace plan. The war in Ukraine, from which 6.5 million citizens fled the fighting, is not over yet …

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