The Pentagon has announced a plan to send military trainers into Ukraine to train Kiev’s forces in their fight against pro-Russia separatists like the Donetsk People’s Republic. But just as the U.S. is getting involved, things may be going from bad to worse.Today, the Ukrainian military urged the civilian residents of Donetsk, the stronghold of pro-Russian forces, to evacuate in anticipation of a showdown between Kiev and the rebels. The Washington Post reports:
The Ukrainian military on Monday urged residents of Donetsk to evacuate amid reports of increased rebel attacks on civilians and to clear the way for government troops to advance on one of the insurgency’s biggest strongholds.The military has opened extra humanitarian corridors out of eastern Ukraine’s regional capital, and the government will help evacuees to find temporary shelter, said Andriy Lysenko, a military spokesman.Over the weekend, government troops cut off a northern route that had been used by the pro-Russian separatists who control the city to bring in reinforcements of fighters and supplies, Lysenko said. The military now has the city, ruled by the rebels’ self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, almost completely encircled.
In Ukraine, the line between militia and army is a fine one: Large swathes of the Ukrainian military have minimal training, and are funded by individual oligarchs. A war between these forces and the separatists in a densely populated city is likely to get ugly.We have written before about how Putin becomes more, rather than less, defiant when he is backed into a corner. Even if he is given another “off ramp” now, he is unlikely to take it—and as the world already knows, he will act decisively and brutally if he thinks his interests are being threatened.Many signs are pointing to a much more serious confrontation—and soon. And that’s the point that all talk of “crisis” and “confrontation” gets replaced with a far more accurate term: “war.”