As negotiations between Russia and Ukraine inch closer to a ceasefire, they approach the point of maximum danger for Ukraine's continued viability as an independent state.
Russia is softening up Ukraine with increased aerial bombardments while hinting at a diplomatic way out. This has led to equally predictable talk in the West of concessions that Ukraine must make - the need for it to play ball'. Such calls can be well-meaning but sadly fail to understand both Ukraine and Russia.
Ukraine's heroic self-defence so far has surprised many but it should not have - partly because even during the smaller-scale invasion in 2014 its army put up far more resistance than Russia expected, but also because it is a different army and a different Ukraine now.
After eight years of Russian provocation and partial occupation, Ukraine's fighting force is now better trained, equipped, and motivated. Its army may be outnumbered and technically outmatched but Russia has failed to use its advantages to adequate effect - the Ukrainians are dug in and they are determined.
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