Ukraine wants to save the country and the people, but there are differences between the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Russian interest in the Donbass seems to be uninterrupted.
Ukraine has not only survived the nine months since the start of major Russian tensions, it has also managed to recapture important territory and intends to continue it.
It has already liberated about 50 percent of the territories occupied by Russia in February and March. This remains the priority of the Ukrainian government.
Ukraine’s goal: Freedom from oppression, violence and despotism
It’s not just about the country, it’s also about the people living in those areas. This is even more true as the civilian population suffered greatly from the Russian occupation and had to endure systematic repression.
Therefore, it is a misconception that an immediate ceasefire will bring peace to the entire Ukrainian people. Rather, those still under Russian occupation at the time of the armistice would be left at the mercy of the Russian forces and mercenaries.
Different military challenges
Therefore, Ukraine intends to continue the liberation of more and more territories. However, a distinction must also be made between the various occupied territories. The territories held by Russia since February are the easiest to recapture politically. These are the northern parts of the Luhansk region, about 70 percent of the Zaporozhye region and the eastern parts of the Kherson region.
In these regions, the Russian armed forces have not yet managed to consolidate their dominance. Most of the civilian population prefers to return to Ukrainian control, and in some areas (especially Zaporizhia) there is a strong underground resistance movement.
From a military point of view, the eastern part of Kherson seems to be the most complex of the three – mainly for geographical reasons. These parts of Kherson can only be liberated after the Zaporozhye region is recaptured, as it is unlikely that Ukraine will forcibly cross the Dnipro River and conduct large-scale operations on the eastern bank. In other words: East Cherson can only be liberated from the east, not from the west or north, that is, through the Dnipro.
Ukraine’s recapture of Donbass met with fierce resistance
In other occupied territories, the situation is much more complex. The areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, which had been under Russian rule since 2014, have since been largely “Russified”. The remaining local population has been under immense pressure for more than eight years, with a constant stream of Russian (false) information and propaganda.
Separatist authorities put pressure on anyone sympathetic to the Kyiv government. Most of the original population (i.e. before the Russian invasion in 2014) left the area a long time ago. In addition, the war damage in Donbass is so great that almost nothing remains of the old “industrial heart” of Ukraine.
Moreover, judging by Russia’s war effort, the Kremlin seems very determined to conquer all of Donbass, whatever the cost. Therefore, it can be assumed that the Russian leadership will do whatever it takes to ensure that parts of Donbass that it has held since 2014 are not lost.
Retaking Crimea is militarily risky
But the most complicated thing will be the liberation of the Crimea. The peninsula is of the greatest strategic importance to Russia, both due to the deployment of the Black Sea Fleet and the control of the Black Sea. Since 2014, Moscow has been actively militarizing Crimea, reopening former Soviet bases, and modernizing and expanding former Ukrainian bases.
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Geography is also complex: Crimea is connected to the mainland only by a few very narrow strips of land that can be easily defended. Therefore, it can be assumed that if Ukraine launches a ground attack on the peninsula, the Russian army will be ready and able to wage a continuous defensive war.
It is also doubtful whether the local people want to return to Ukrainian sovereignty. According to the last 2001 census, Crimea was the only region of Ukraine with an ethnic Russian majority. Since its invasion in 2014, Russia has been working intensively for the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation, both legally, financially, socially and in terms of infrastructure. Crimea is significantly better integrated than the newly annexed Ukrainian regions.
I am Timothy Glover, a professional journalist and content creator. I specialize in writing and editing for news websites, specifically covering politics. I have been working as an author at News Unrolled for the past five years and have built up a reputation for producing quality content that is both informative and engaging.