Messianic desire in Ukraine, but no Victory Day prize for Putin

Russian president's fantasy of Donbas as primordial Russian land hit the reality of stiff Ukrainian resistance

 Activists with a banner reading ’Ukraine - You Are Not Alone’ in front of the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin, Germany. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Activists with a banner reading ’Ukraine - You Are Not Alone’ in front of the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin, Germany. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has become a battle for the Donbas and a land bridge to Crimea. Russian forces, however, are struggling. Mariupol has proven to be an exceedingly tough city to capture, while Russian forces are also facing fierce resistance elsewhere in the south and east. The revised Russian military goal of “liberating” the Donbas is proving elusive. Despite what President Vladimir Putin says today to the Russian people at the Victory Day parade in Moscow, the empirical reality of Ukraine is once again failing to affirm what the Russian leader expected of it.

To understand why, and something of the horror of the Donbas today, we need to grasp the identity of Donbas in general and the three different versions of the Donbas in recent times: that prior to Russia’s first invasion, that between invasions, and today’s wartime reality.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.