Russia’s military operations in eastern Ukraine are aimed at seizing much of the country. Although Russian ground forces have not yet entered the western third of the country, they appear to be preparing to attack the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. One highly knowledgeable military analyst has described the plan as “bizarre,” saying that it does not take advantage of Russia’s advantages. The Russian military, with over 125 battalion tactical groups deployed in eastern Ukraine, has the advantage of mass and numbers.
Russia and Ukraine have been at odds since the Ukraine’s coup forced out its president, who had close ties with Mr. Putin. Russia then invaded and annexed Crimea, and fomented a separatist rebellion in the Donbas region, which has killed more than 13,000 people. While the West is opposed to Mr. Putin’s moves in eastern Ukraine, it appears that he is winding back 30 years and drawing Ukraine back into his sphere of influence.
Polls show that the Russian military campaign in eastern Ukraine is largely supported by respondents. The scale of support has remained steady over the first four months of the war. Moreover, people who support the military campaign tend to be Putin supporters. Despite the Russian military’s strength, the Ukraine’s armed forces lack the resources to respond to Moscow’s aggression.
The Russian President has warned the West not to interfere with the Ukraine’s internal affairs, but its forces have responded by attacking Ukraine. The United States and other international leaders have criticized Russia’s action in the region, saying that it could spark the largest war in Europe since 1945 and result in the deaths of many Ukrainians. The Russian government has also made a series of changes to the law, introducing stricter penalties for soldiers who refuse to fight and surrender.