On day 98 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army enters Severodonetsk, pushing back the Ukrainian defenders in many places. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense assesses that the strategic city will probably fall in the next few days.
The situation in the Donbass
In its daily war assessment, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the situation in the Donbass, where the russian army has made all of its recent wins.
“Russian ground operations remain tightly focused, with the weight of firepower concentrated in a small sector of Luhansk Oblast. On May 30 and 31, fighting intensified in the streets of Sieverodonetsk as Russian forces moved closer to the city center. More than half of the city is likely occupied by Russian forces, including Chechen fighters,” British Military Intelligence said. assessed.
Ukraine’s political and military leadership seems to have decided to abandon Severodonetsk and not waste reinforcements and resources in its defence. This approach contrasts sharply with the Battle of Mariupol, which lasted nearly three months before the last Ukrainian defenders surrendered to Russian forces. Certainly the Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk have a much easier choice to withdraw compared to the situation facing their comrades.
“The decision to avoid committing more resources to saving Severodonetsk and the decision to withdraw from it was strategically sound, if painful. Ukraine must spare its most limited resources and focus on recapturing critical terrain rather than defending terrain whose control will not determine the outcome of the war or the conditions for the resumption of war,” said the Institute for the Study of War.
It seems like Ukrainian commanders have decided to abandon the last major urban center in Lugansk province despite – or because – it will give Russian President Vladimir Putin a major political victory.
The stated objective of the Kremlin is to seize the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk – and most likely to annex them to the Russian Federation – and to create a land bridge to Crimea.
To achieve these goals, the russian army actually making progress. But it remains to be seen whether he will be able to sustain the long-term progress and finally achieve the Kremlin’s goals. What is certain is that the Russian losses are unsustainable.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims that on Wednesday Ukrainian forces killed around 30,700 Russian troops (and wounded about three times that number), destroyed 208 fighter, attack and transport aircraft, 175 attack and transport helicopters, 1,361 tanks, 659 artillery pieces, 3,343 armored personnel carriers , 207 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)13 boats and cutters, 2,290 vehicles and fuel tanks, 94 anti-aircraft batteries, 519 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 49 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four Iskander mobile ballistic missile systems , and 120 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian Air Defenses.
Gains in eastern Ukraine, losses in the south?
In the background of the fighting in Severodonetsk and Donbass is Kherson, a key Ukrainian city that was captured by Russian forces.
Over the past few days, ukrainian army launched a series of counter-offensives in the vicinity of Kherson, steadily gaining ground. In the long term, the Ukrainian decision to commit forces there and not in the Donbass could turn out to be the best.
“Moscow’s focus on capturing Severodonetsk and Donbass generally continues to create vulnerabilities for Russia in Ukraine’s vital Kherson Oblast, where Ukrainian counteroffensives continue. Kherson is critical terrain as it is the only region in Ukraine where Russian forces hold ground on the west bank of the Dnipro. If Russia is able to maintain solid accommodation in Kherson when the fighting ceases, it will be in a very strong position from which to launch a future invasion. If Ukraine regains Kherson, however, Ukraine will be in a much stronger position to defend against a future Russian attack. This strategic calculation should in principle lead Russia to allocate sufficient combat power to hold Kherson,” Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest war update.
Meanwhile, the Russian military continues to launch long-range fire throughout Ukraine, but at a much slower rate due to the lack of precision-guided and ranged munitions.
“Beyond the Donbass, Russia continues to conduct long-range missile strikes against infrastructure across Ukraine. The strategically important bridge connects Ukraine with Romania and Ukrainian ports on the Danube, which became essential for Ukrainian exports after Russia blockaded Ukrainian Black Sea ports,” the UK Ministry of Defense said.
[1945’sNewColumnofDefenseandNationalSecurity[1945’sNouveauchroniqueurdedéfenseetdesécuriténationaleStavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (National Service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ) and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University. His work has been featured in Business Intern, Sandpitand SOFREP.