Ukraine will fight for the entirety of its territory, according to President Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy described his intent in a powerful message in an interview obtained by Reuters with the British newspaper, The Financial Times. He said, “We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory. We have to achieve a full de-occupation of our entire territory.”
President Zelenskyy’s words came after suggestions that to preserve the rest of Ukraine, the country would need to cede over the Donbas region to Russia.
As the battle for Donbas continues, President Zelenskyy has made it clear that the action taking place in the city of Severodonetsk will determine whether Russia will claim victory in the region, a key industrial and agricultural area for the country.
Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk, stated, “It is impossible to say that Russians completely control the city.” However, BBC sources report that Russia is making advances and pushing Ukrainian forces out towards the border of the city.
In a separate statement obtained by Reuters, Haidai stated, “The Russians are trying with all their might to capture Sievierodonetsk and cut off the highway from Lysychansk to Bakhmut,” he said in an online post. “In the regional center it is hard to stave off the attacks, but the occupiers do not control the town.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in late February for what was referred to as “a special military operation” to “de-nazify” Ukraine. In the months since, Russia has been met with extreme opposition from Ukrainian forces.
In March, Russia was unsuccessful in its initial plan to take over Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv. After withdrawing its troops from the area, Moscow focused its attention on overtaking the Donbas region. Moscow has represented the actions as “liberating the Donbas.”
To put the situation into perspective, on May 1, the Kherson region started using the Russian ruble as currency.
Russia’s desired control of the Donbas region serves several purposes. A primary goal is that it would create a land border with Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Its continued pursuit of controlling the southern portion of Ukraine would ensure that it is connected to the country of Moldova.
On May 9, the BBC quoted Tatiana Stanovaya, who works for analysis firm RPolitik and the Carnegie Moscow Center, as saying, “They will keep going. I always hear the same phrase — ‘we have no choice but to escalate.'” Stanovaya warned that Moscow would continue their pursuit of the Donbas region as it sees that victory as the bare minimum it will accept.