Now that Russia has its sights on the east, with a major offensive imminent, the next month will be potentially decisive for Ukraine
The tragedy discovered amid the rubble of Bucha and Borodianka overshadowed any jubilation that Kyiv had defeated Russian forces that had spent a month trying to envelop the capital and snuff out the Ukrainian nation. Nevertheless, the defeat of Russian forces in the north marks a turning point in the war. For the medium term, Ukraine will now survive. But for its soldiers there is no respite, for having had its first objective denied Moscow has turned its gaze on the Donbas, where a major offensive is imminent.
The Donbas has been at war for eight years. More than 90 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in 2021 defending the line of contact. Since late February Ukrainian positions have come under regular artillery fire, with mobilised civilians from Russian-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk pushed into attacks on the Ukrainian trenches. The aim of this Russian activity was to fix the 40,000 Ukrainian troops in the Joint Forces Operations (JFO) area, preventing them from impacting the fights for Mariupol, Kharkiv or Kyiv.