Day 55 Roundup: Russian Donbas Assault Begins, Mariupol Refuses to Surrender

    Photo: AP Photos [via AP News]

    The Facts

    • Late on Mon., Russia launched its anticipated, large-scale ground offensive on the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk – collectively the Donbas – several sources reported. Ukrainian officials said fighting was reported across the broad 300 mi (480 km) front.

    • The Donbas, largely made up of ethnic Russians, has suffered a bloody conflict since 2014 when pro-Russian separatists sought to create two independent republics. Fighting and frequent violations of the ceasefire continued despite the Minsk 1 and 2 agreements reached in Sep. 2014 and Feb. 2015.

    The Spin

    Anti-Russia narrative

    With Russia's troops outstretched and suffering heavy losses in the north, Putin has re-maneuvered to try and gain the strategically important Donbas region. With 44k Ukrainian troops stationed in the Donbas, the battle for the region could influence the course of the whole war – and Putin's grand plan to restore the Soviet empire.

    Pro-Russia narrative

    As stated by Putin, the purpose of the war was never to capture Kyiv, but to liberate the ethnically Russian people of Donetsk and Luhansk, who have been subjected to systematic brutality by Ukrainian forces for not recognizing the 2014 coup in Kyiv. This tragedy would have been avoided if NATO had kept its promise not to expand eastward in return for German reunification.

    Nerd narrative

    According to the Metaculus prediction community, there's a 35% chance that Zelenskyy and Putin will meet to discuss a peaceful resolution to the conflict before 2023.

    Establishment split



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