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Russia is still fighting for control of this little Ukrainian city two months later.


Russian military have been attacking the city of Severodonetsk for about two months now. Despite their superior firepower, they are unable to remove tenacious Ukrainian opposition or cut the supply lines that provide arms and ammunition to the city’s remaining defenders.

Despite significant losses, the robust Ukrainian defense of Severodonetsk has forced the Russians to concentrate their firepower on a small area, delaying their efforts to grab the 10% of the Luhansk region that they still do not control.

The conquest of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is one of the goals of Moscow’s special military campaign, which began in February. For the time being, that operation is basically blocked; a big portion of Donetsk is still out of Russian grasp.

The village of Metelkino, located southeast of Severodonetsk, has been captured by Russian forces, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. However, the Russian goal of encircling Ukrainian forces defending the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk appears to be a long way off.

The Russians have resorted to one main approach in a campaign that lacks agility and imagination: overwhelming indirect fire against any and all Ukrainian positions, regardless of collateral damage.

The goal is to leave nothing that can be defended standing. The employment of foot soldiers to conquer and hold metropolitan areas has become less common and less effective.

On June 8, 2022, smoke rises from the city of Severodonetsk as seen from Lysychansk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region.
One unidentified Ukrainian soldier says in a video of Ukrainian special forces in the area posted over the weekend: “They’re tossing everything they have, including all of their ammunition. It makes no difference to them whether it’s our positions or civilian districts; they wipe everything off the face of the earth, then utilize artillery and gradually advance.”

Hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children, have taken refuge in the Azot chemical facility in Severodonetsk amid severe urban combat. It provides limited protection below ground, unlike the Azovstal facility in Mariupol. Ukrainian officials say people there, who previously refused to leave, do have food supplies but can no longer be evacuated from the plant because of the intense fighting.

People who earlier refused to leave had food supplies, according to Ukrainian officials, but can no longer be evacuated from the factory because to the ongoing fighting.
The Azot facility and its immediate surrounds, like Azovstal, have become a focal point of Ukrainian resistance, perplexing Russian forces.

“Russian troops are likely facing mounting losses and troop and equipment degradation that will complicate attempts to renew offensive operations on other critical locations as the slow battle for Severodonetsk continues,” according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank in Washington.

Resistance in Severodonetsk is proving labor-intensive, just as the defense of Mariupol pulled in more than a dozen battalion tactical groups.

The Ukrainians claim to have suffered serious losses against Russian forces in the area, thanks in part to new equipment supplied by Western partners, like as anti-tank weapons and longer-range howitzers. Ukrainian military stated on Saturday that units of Russia’s 11th Separate Motorized Rifle Regiment had suffered substantial losses and had been “removed from the area of combat operations to recover combat capacity.”

However, Ukrainian supply routes are constantly attacked, making it increasingly difficult to transport goods from the Donetsk region to Lysychansk along the highway.

“Russian forces will certainly be able to conquer Severodonetsk in the following weeks,” according to the ISW, “but at the cost of concentrating the majority of their available forces in one tiny area.”

On June 12, 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench on a position held by the Ukrainian army between the southern cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson.

So far, the Russian strategy appears to be to grind down resistance south of the city, in places like Syrotyne, before attacking Ukrainian forces from multiple directions.

Russian drones are increasingly being used to identify Russian defensive locations, according to Ukrainian officials. “The Russian military uses drones to monitor the air 24 hours a day, adjusts firepower, and promptly adapts to our adjustments in defensive sectors,” Serhii Hayday, the chief of the Luhansk regional military administration, said.

Little territory is now ceded or taken elsewhere along an active frontline that runs for more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

The Russians’ main objectives in Donbas are to conquer Sloviansk, a major industrial city and transportation center, and Bakhmut, a village in Donetsk, but they’ve made very little progress toward either target. They may also be vulnerable to Ukrainian counter-offensives to the south and west of Izium.

A contrasting picture emerges from the south of Ukraine. The Russians appear to be consolidating early-war successes along lines that will allow them to defend a coastal belt in depth. Counterattacks by Ukraine against Kherson have made little headway, as the Russians have dug in and have no desire to expand their area.

After his second visit to Kyiv, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday: “The most important factor is time. Everything hinges on Ukraine’s ability to improve its defense capabilities faster than Russia’s ability to renew its offensive capabilities.”

During the defense of Donbas, several of Ukraine’s strongest military units were punished. Since the Russian invasion began on February 24, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been slain, according to Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, who spoke to CNN last week. The vast majority were most likely troops.
The UK Defense Ministry estimated this weekend that Ukrainian forces had likely deserted in recent weeks, while it believes Russian morale is far weaker.

As a result, it’s not only about supplying Ukrainian soldiers accurate long-range weaponry; it’s also about improving training. Johnson is pushing for a strategy that would allow partners to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days.

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