Russia is winning the battle for Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists captured the airport at Donetsk, a bright new terminal now reduced to rubble, last week. Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk, has made it clear that he will attack Ukrainian lines once more. He will rely, as he has done before, on reinforcements from the Russian army and special forces.
As Donetsk’s airport was falling to the separatists, the embattled Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, travelled to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to beg for support. He told attendees that more than 9,000 Russian soldiers and several hundred tanks are on active duty in Ukraine and that 7 percent of his nation’s territory is effectively occupied.
“If this is not aggression, what is aggression?” he asked.
He tried, a little desperately, to link the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine to the attack in Paris on Charlie Hebdo. He admitted that he was doing so because he did not want the world to suffer from “Ukrainian fatigue.”
The world isn’t fatigued, though, because it has made no great exertions. Ukraine today is somewhat in the position of its neighbor Poland, now a member of the European Union, before World War Two. Poland made defense pacts with both France and the United Kingdom, which obliged them to come to its aid if attacked. Both did declare war on Germany when it attacked Poland, but they did too little else, too slowly, and their armies were smashed in France by the Wehrmacht. Ukraine made an agreement in 1994, in Budapest, with the United States, the UK and Russia (France and China also joined in, with separate agreements) that its borders would be guaranteed.