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Ukraine Fighting at a Crossroads; Possibility of a Negotiated Settlement Exists, But Remains Unlikely

June 14, 2022

Battle front, Northern Donbas. June 14, 2022

 

Defining moment of Russia’s Donbass campaign… Battle of SIEVIERODONETSK at crucial stage of victory for Russian forces. With the only remaining bridge across Seversky Donets River destroyed earlier today, Ukrainian forces are practically encircled in Sievierodonetsk, their strategically important stronghold in eastern Donbass, unable to retreat to neighbouring/twin city of LYSYCHANSK. Russian forces have reached Sievierodonetsk city centre. Capture of Sievierodonetsk & Lysychansk will position them to advance farther west toward KRAMATORSK, & if Kramatorsk falls, Russian forces will in effect be in control of the whole Donbass region.

Bhadrakumar Melkulangara (retired Indian diplomat)

Following the military situation in (what was – and is no more) Eastern Ukraine is not for the feint hearted., but this brief explanation (the map) sums up the situation as I have come to understand it. A broader map of the region would put this detailed snapshot in better focus… but the essence is accurate… Should the local Luhansk and Russian troops breakthrough to Lysychansk and then on to Slovyansk and Kramatorsk – it will mark the end of “Phase Two” of Russia’s Special Military Operation in the Donbas.

Expect there will be a “Phase Three” although what it will be is unclear… Possible that negotiations could follow although after the failure of such at Istanbul – after both Washington and London put pressure on the Zelensky government not to proceed – I do not know if the Russians, frankly, are interested or even trust the process. With Russia and its local allies having the upper hand militarily, each time Kiev refuses to negotiate, Ukraine loses more territory.

That said, as, from where I am sitting, this war is essentially one in which Ukraine is a little more than a proxy for NATO/US to weaken Russia (using the Ukrainian military as nothing less than cannon fodder) and if possible overthrow the Putin government, at this point we can say the following:

  • a. all attempts to weaken Russia strategically on the part of Washington through the Ukraine have, to date, failed. To the contrary. Washington seriously underestimated Russian economic and military strength as well as it diplomatic acumen, a classic case of underestimating the situation/strengths of an adversary and exaggerating Washington/NATO strength.
  • b. Russia and its allies in the Donbas (whose actual role in the fighting has been ignored or denied) have given NATO/US a bloody nose – one that will inspire others to stand up to NATO/US. Seems pretty clear that NATO has met its match on the battlefield will suffer humiliation as a result (and already has).

Will look at the broader geo-political consequences of all this – the beginning of what is shaping up to be “two world systems” (and probably a third, the Global South that is not interested in taking sides for or against either US/NATO nor China-Russia-Iran) to follow in the next week when the political dust settles a bit (if it ever does).

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