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Zelensky: We'll accept status quo ante rather than fight in Donbas

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This is an interesting concession on the cusp of Volodymyr Zelensky’s petition to the United Nations. The heroic, embattled president of Ukraine plans to demand action from the UN over the extensive war crimes committed by Russia so far, and likely far more left to be exposed as Vladimir Putin retreats.

Even so, Zelensky appears to have a rational view on what would constitute success for the Ukrainian resistance:

⚡️ Zelensky: Withdrawal of Russian troops to Feb. 23 positions would be victory, for now.

Zelensky said that fighting for the territories of the Donbas occupied since 2014 “would cost us 40,000 or 50,000 of our best trained people, and the enemy would return next month.”

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 5, 2022

There hasn’t been any other report on that quasi-concession, but the Kyiv Independent is not a hostile media outlet. It has been defiant to the Russian invaders and their propagandists all along. If Zelensky wanted to signal terms for a settlement based on the February 23 status quo ante, the Kyiv Independent would make for a natural outlet to amplify that point.

Besides, it makes sense militarily and politically. Ukrainian forces got pushed out of Luhansk-Donetsk eight years ago by Russian-backed militias supplied by Moscow, not to mention out of Crimea by Russia’s own military. They have had eight years to invest those positions, and the higher percentage of ethnic Russians in that population means that Ukrainian forces run a higher risk in losing their home-field advantage, so to speak. Most if not all observers gave Zelensky little chance of resisting the Russian invasion, but Ukraine turned out to be a lot tougher than anyone expected and the Russians a lot worse, so perhaps Zelensky might be tempted to see if he can run Putin completely out of Ukraine, but that’s probably only going to be an option of last resort — a position into which Putin will have to push Zelensky.

Of course, this comes at the same time that Putin is re-characterizing his “special military operation” as aimed at the liberation of Donbas

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