Donetsk International Airport appears is back in the hands of the Ukrainian military after fierce fighting with pro-Russia separatists who took control of the airport over the weekend. Petro Poroshenko, the newly elected president of the Ukraine wasted little time in responding to the bold seizure by the separatists. He had vowed a form response to the uprising was coming. By all accounts, Poroshenko has remained true to his word.
Many of the reports coming out of Donetsk claim heavy separatist casualties. 30-40 separatists have been killed according to various US and European news agencies. ‘Spokespersons’ for the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ seem to have confirmed the news. Video of the battle has appeared online and show clearly Ukrainian fighters attacking Separatist positions on the airport grounds.
The swift Ukrainian response was justified and militarily the proper thing to do. Think back to how the Crimean annexation crisis really began. The airport was seized by pro-Russian separatists and, in all likelihood, a limited number of Russian troops. Taking the airport removed the chance of large numbers of Ukrainian reinforcements arriving. When the first reports of separatists moving on the airport arrived in Kiev, the government had to move quickly. It did and the operation appears to be a success.
Moscow’s response so far has been silence. Outside of brief updates from the Foreign Ministry, Russia has not reacted to the airport battle. Poroshenko has publicly stated that he would like to travel to Moscow to discuss the crisis with Russia but the Kremlin has not responded. This is more worrisome than it is reassuring.
When the talking stops, it generally means preparations for action are underway.