Before the first Russian-Ukrainian war in 2014, no one in Western Europe had heard of Donbass. The eastern Ukrainian region is less attractive to tourists, politically neglected by Kiev – and the former mining region is long past its economic peak.
Why is Vladimir Putin (69) so determined to take over poor eastern Ukraine?
The Donbass – or Donetsk Basin, as it is properly called in German, consists of two regions, Luhansk and Donetsk – located in the extreme east of Ukraine, bordering Russia. In 2014, Putin attacked the Russian-speaking region. A land bridge to the Crimean peninsula, occupied by the Russians since 2014. Without control over the Donbass, Putin is reaching the captured territory by land with the Crimean bridge built in 2018.
“Donbass is an excuse!”: Moderator exposes Russia’s top propagandist(01:04)
Sloviansk has (almost) fallen once before
Putin says Kiev discriminates against Russian-speaking and Russian-born people in the Donbass. His government openly talks about “genocide” against the Russian minority in the Donbass. Blame it on the “Nazi government” in Kiev. He describes his brutal war against the region as a “special operation to destroy the region”.
Since 2014, Moscow-backed pro-Russian separatists have occupied large swathes of Ukrainian territory. Among others, the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk have become internationally unrecognized Russian People’s Republics. The city of Slovzhansk, population 100,000, was also briefly under Russian control, but was recaptured by the Ukrainians in July 2014.
They are also called “tornadoes”: Here, Russian rocket launchers fly into the air(00:59)
Putin wants people to forget the shame of 2014
So the upcoming battle for Sloviansk is also highly symbolic. Putin wants people to forget the shame of 2014. This time Slozansk was not to slip away from him again.
According to British intelligence Putin’s forces are now only 15 kilometers from the city’s borders. They have progressed about 5 kilometers in the last one week alone. Russian troops have been in a strategic standoff for two days.
Experts are skepticalPutin’s soldiers have recovered and are arming themselves to launch a storm on Sloviansk and the neighboring city of Kramatorsk in the coming days. If both cities fall, the entire Donbass will be under Russian control. Putin can sell it as a partial victory in Moscow.
Precision Mi-24: Russia shows “flying tank” in action(00:53)
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”