Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ukraine Counterattacks

Ukraine counterattacked to improve their Mariupol defenses:

Government forces broke through rebels’ positions to take control of two villages near the eastern port city of Mariupol, an army spokesman said.

This is good. Russia shouldn't have the initiative all the time.

I freely admit that Ukraine does have difficulty in fighting in the Donbas.

Although they may have to take some risks that the war could widen in response because Ukraine is losing the war in Donbas without committing the forces to fight there.

Yet if Russia escalates to widen the war, Ukraine has escalation options away from eastern Ukraine, too.

Not to mention the issue of whether Russia can easily control the Donbas if Ukraine continues to resist the occupation.

There are limits to Russian power in pushing Ukraine around. Let's find them.

UPDATE: Ukraine's initiative is important because the rebels are very clear that ceasefires only happen after secessionist hand-puppet territorial gains:

Rebel fighters made a push on Tuesday to cut off a government-held road and rail junction in east Ukraine, vowing on the eve of peace talks that they would not cease fire until they had achieved their aim of taking more territory

The communications hub is Debaltseve, that Ukraine holds but which is in danger of being isolated.

Say, what did Barack Obama once say in his 2008 Victory Column speech in Berlin about resisting the Russians by supplying an isolated outpost?

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Ah, hope.

But that was then. When Barack Obama had ambitions for the White House but no responsibilities. Talk was easy.

Now, there will be no presidential speech saying, look at Debaltseve! Or Donetsk! Or Mariupol!

Or Sevastopol, for that matter.

No, there will be no talk of duty by President Obama.

No talk of the perils of retreat.

No Debaltseve Airlift, naturally.

I guess the next speech should look for a Nuance Column for the backdrop.