Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar, meanwhile, said Russia was engaging Ukrainian forces in “intense fire” in the neighboring Donetsk region.

“The enemy used all forces and means to capture our territory and surround our troops,” she told reporters. “The fighting has reached its maximum intensity to date.”

After months of battlefield setbacks and the grinding siege of the Black Sea port of Mariupol, Russia’s brutal advance in Luhansk has renewed concerns about the conflict’s endgame.

If Russia is able to secure control of a large slice of the east, might Ukraine be better off accepting that as the price of survival?

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger suggested exactly that at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week as he called for a resumption of peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv, warning that failing to engage Russia diplomatically would have long-term consequences for European stability. 

Zelenskyy, in his daily address Wednesday, likened Kissinger’s call for diplomacy with Moscow to European attempts to appease Nazi Germany in the run-up to World War II. 

“Kissinger emerges from the deep past and says that a piece of Ukraine should be given to Russia, so that there is no alienation of Russia from Europe,” Zelenskyy said.

May 26, 202202:17

“It seems that Mr. Kissinger’s calendar is not 2022, but 1938, and he thought he was talking to an audience not in Davos, but in Munich of that time.”

Zelenskyy did concede that Ukrainian positions in Luhansk were vulnerable, warning that “in some areas the enemy is substantially superior in terms of equipment [and] number of soldiers.”

But pouring defensive troops into the area might not be the solution, experts cautioned.

“Ukraine generally has a lot of leeway in terms of reinforcements that it could send because they are on a war footing,” said Horowitz of Le Beck.

“But in this specific area, they have to decide whether they want to defend that area until the end at the risk of potentially losing the units that they send or actually just pull back to more defensible positions.”

Courtney Kube contributed.


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