Although in defense of Ukraine, they were finally winning in the east until Russia's August 2014 direct intervention; and it is too risky for Ukraine to send too much of their military to the east when Russia could trap those troops in a pocket if Russia escalates to general war and marches on Kiev from the north and northeast; and out of their Crimea positions from the south.
In the meantime, Mariupol's defense may rely more on French resolve than Ukrainian military capabilities:
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said this morning on French radio that if separatist troops advanced on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, that would constitute a new red line.
"I told my counterpart Sergei Lavrov that such a move would mean Russia wants to make a link with Crimea, and that would change everything," said Fabius.
Does Putin want those French-built amphibious warfare ships he bought but has not yet received more than he wants Mariupol?
Although I'm not sure why the loss of Mariupol means there is a land bridge to Crimea along the north shore of the Sea of Azov. Russia would have to push west a great deal more through more cities and towns before they can claim that objective.
Is there an assumption that Ukraine can't defend anywhere else along that route? Truly, Ukraine's military capabilities are low if that is the case.
There should be lots of bridges wired to blow and engineers ready to create obstacles on that potential line of advance. If those precautions aren't being made, why not? Shouldn't we be advising them to do so? Shouldn't they know better anyway?
Hasn't Ukraine made some progress in rebuilding military capabilities?
Speaking of that objective:
Ukraine's president says his country has signed an agreement to cooperate with the United Arab Emirates on military and technical issues as he kicked off a visit to the Western-allied Gulf nation.
That's interesting. How can Ukraine pay for arms? Could it be that Ukraine will trade some of their surplus Soviet-built weapons for anti-tank weapons, for example?
The UAE could conceivably use those Ukrainian weapons to arm anti-Assad rebels.
So Ukraine would get weapons they need to resist Russia's war of aggression and strike back at Russia by harming Putin's ally, Assad.
This comes on top of Russia's continuing effort to blackmail us into doing their bidding by threatening to sell advanced air defense missiles to Iran.
The war continues to affect a wider region than just Crimea and the Donbas.