(The New York Times)—Oxana Shevel: The Ukrainian government's ability to retake the airport doesn’t dramatically change things—DONETSK, Ukraine: The new Ukrainian government struck the separatists in this eastern province with a major military offensive on Monday, battling them over an important provincial airport in ground fighting that lasted for hours. The rebels were left scattered and shaken, just one day after a successful national election they had tried to disrupt.
The airport battle was the first time the Ukrainian military had moved so aggressively against the separatists, who took over government buildings in two eastern provinces in March, after weeks of low-grade military maneuvers meant to stop their spread to other areas.
There was no immediate indication that the Ukrainian military’s operations extended any further than the strategically important airport and surrounding area. Experts said that while the military’s attack might have put the separatists on the defensive, it was unlikely to stop their power. […]
"I don’t see this ending anytime soon,” said Oxana Shevel, a political science professor who specializes in Ukraine at Tufts University in Boston. “The Ukrainian government is saying, This is where we draw the line.” Its ability to retake the airport, she said, “doesn’t dramatically change things.”
“What Putin wants is for Ukraine to be weak,” said Lucan A. Way, a political scientist at the University of Toronto who specializes in Ukraine and has lived in Donetsk. “Just because he gives verbal support for the new Ukrainian government does not mean that he will stop trying to foment unrest in the east.”
By issuing statements of support, Mr. Putin “gets to look like a statesman,” and blame whatever problems emerge on the new government, Professor Way said. “He has created a Frankenstein that he cannot control, and may not even want to,” he said.
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