Fears continue to mount in eastern Ukraine as the country nears all-out war with Russia. Reports show that Russia has prepared a large strike force on the border of Ukraine. Some would claim this is a frozen war, as all attempts at resolving the conflict with diplomacy have failed. Since the start of this year, Europe and the U.S. have paid close attention to the war in Ukraine. The conflict, which began in 2014, has claimed 13,000 lives and 28,000 wounded. Ukraine continues to struggle to get free from the Russian presence in their country.

“We must fight [for the Ukrainian people] and we must win,” said the Commander of Ukraine’s Joint Forces Serhiy Nayev in a recent press conference. He noted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces could reclaim the Donbass region. When asked if he thought Ukraine was ready for an offensive to recover Russian-occupied territories in Donbass, he answered, “I wouldn’t be a commander and my subordinates wouldn’t be soldiers of the Joint Forces if we were not ready for all forms and methods that combat suggests in general.”

Many commanders in Ukraine believe Russia is preparing an assault group along its borders. A buildup of regular units and special operations units will serve as the base for the Kremlin’s forthcoming invasion of Donbass.

Operation Sickle and Hammer: Ukraine prepares to take back Donbass

Can Ukraine retake Donbass?

Having fought in this war for more than three years, I understand better than most the complex issues that lie ahead. Arguably the most critical component in this offensive is who will dominate the airspace. Electronic warfare will be an ordeal for Ukrainian Forces. The sheer volume of mines throughout the region will claim more lives than predicted. Ultimately, one has to question whether Russia will send its forces into the fight to support the Ukrainian separatists.

Ukrainian forces have the numbers in this fight, they have the weapons, and they have the desire to win. Additionally, they have the support of the West. But the reality is the operation would be disastrous in terms of loss of life for both sides.

Still, Ukraine and its servicemen are resilient, and they would be sure to endure and overcome the initial offensive. They have likely prepared for a potential insurgency following the initial recapture of the Donbass region. This will be a major issue going forward, and one for which the Ukrainian forces must be prepared. Ukraine can win the war in Donbass, but the West must stand by and be prepared to intervene should Russia enter the fray.