War in Ukraine: the conquest of Donbass by the Russians before peace?

War in Ukraine: the conquest of Donbass by the Russians before peace?

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

Three months after the launch by Vladimir Putin of his “special operation” on February 24, the war in Ukraine could experience a turning point in the hours to come. Failing to obtain the surrender of the Ukrainians as planned, the Russians are now concentrating in the east of the country, concentrating all their means to seize the Donbass and more particularly the city of Severodonetsk, which could join Mariupol in the sad list martyr cities. Pounded relentlessly for several days, Severodonetsk, in which there would only be around 15,000 civilians out of 100,000 inhabitants, could fall into the hands of the Russians, finally constituting a victory for them to display after the setbacks recorded for three months in the face of the resistance. Ukrainians.

3 months of war in Ukraine

kyiv was not mistaken there, which, worried about a risk of overflow, calls for more heavy weapons to match the Russian firepower. “The enemy is clearly superior, in equipment, in number of soldiers”, recognized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday evening. Ukraine wishes in particular to receive mobile units capable of sending several rockets simultaneously. In this region, the towns on the front line have been emptied of their inhabitants, the recalcitrant, often elderly, spending most of their time hiding in cellars.

“The fighting has reached its maximum intensity and a long and extremely difficult stage awaits us,” Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar summed up in kyiv yesterday, while Kharkiv was again bombarded.

“Putin that he will not be able to dictate peace”, says Chancellor Scholz

Volodymyr Zelensky called on Wednesday for “support from a united Europe”, deploring the lack of cohesion of Westerners in the face of this war which has just entered its fourth month. Then addressing the Davos summit by videoconference, 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 to say: let’s take its interests into account. We must do everything possible so that […] the interests of Ukrainians are not supplanted by the interests of those who are always in a hurry to rush to another appointment with the dictator,” he said, without naming Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A Vladimir Putin who seems to want to accelerate his grip on the Donbass as he did in 2014 in Crimea. Moscow thus announced that Russia was going to allow the inhabitants of the regions of Zaporizhia and Kherson to apply for a Russian passport, which would mean an outright annexation in the eyes of kyiv, and a kind of “freezing” of the conflict under the conditions set by Cheese fries. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was “convinced” yesterday that Russia would not win the war it provoked in Ukraine.

  Russian servicemen patrolling the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station in Kherson Oblast amid ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.

Russian servicemen patrolling the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station in Kherson Oblast amid ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.
AFP – SERGEY BOBOK

“It’s about making Putin understand that he won’t be able to dictate peace. Ukraine will not accept it, and neither will we,” insisted the German Chancellor. The fact remains that Vladimir Putin, however isolated he may be on the international scene, however far from his initial objectives, has some cards in hand: in the absence of a European agreement on an embargo concerning the import of Russian gas and oil, it has cash inflows that allow it to resist economic and financial sanctions. And with maritime control of the Sea of ​​Azov, Putin is able to prevent wheat shipments, which London called “blackmail.” »

After three months of conflict, however, a space seems to be opening up for a return to diplomacy, which will require, as in any negotiation, concessions on both sides. But nothing can be done without a ceasefire, which, for the time being, is not yet on the agenda. Yesterday Russia disdainfully rejected an Italian peace plan. The war in Ukraine, from which 6.5 million citizens have fled the fighting, is far from over…