Russian forces are using a wide array of weapons on multiple fronts in eastern Ukraine as they attempt to break through stubborn Ukrainian defenses, which are outnumbered and outgunned, according to Ukrainian officials.
Several of these officials describe the situation as “very difficult” and admit that Ukrainian units may have to withdraw in some places.
In recent days, according to Ukrainian officials, the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple rocket launcher systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a ruthless bombardment of towns and villages in the Luhansk and Donetsk still under Ukrainian control.
Ukraine’s national police said civilians were killed in attacks on 13 settlements in Donetsk, with several previously untargeted towns suffering damage. Russian forces appear to be increasing the number of towns they bombard as they attempt to destroy Ukrainian defenses and supply lines.
Their main objective appears to be to take Sloviansk, which has seen an upsurge in shelling in recent days. Mayor Vadym Liakh said half the city is now without water and there will be “no gas supply until the heating season”.
A growing number of Ukrainian officials are describing the military situation in dire terms, although Russian advances on the ground have been modest.
Fedir Venislavskyi, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and member of the National Security Committee, described the situation as “difficult”.
He told Ukrainian television that “the hottest spots are Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. The enemy is trying to surround our troops.”
The twin towns of Luhansk are almost completely destroyed, but Ukrainian troops are still present. It is estimated that around 15,000 civilians are still in Severodonetsk.