Another question was when, however, the remaining Ukrainian units in the eastern city of Severodnetsk would be withdrawn.
For the past several weeks, Russian forces have destroyed every defensive position adopted by Ukrainians, pushing them into a few square blocks in and around the city’s Azot chemical plant.
Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk held up longer than many observers expected, forcing the Russians and their allies to devote resources to the city that could be used to suppress the offensive elsewhere.
But the Ukrainian military has clearly decided that there was nothing more to defend – and that the hundreds of civilians who took refuge at the plant were in greater danger with each passing day.
According to the Institute for War, a US think tank that closely follows the campaign, “the loss of Severodnetsk is a loss for Ukraine, in the sense that any territory occupied by the Russian military is a loss – but Severodnetsk.” The battle will not be a decisive Russian victory.”
Now the fighting moves across the Siversky Donets River to Lisichansk, the last city of Luhansk, which is occupied by Ukrainian forces. And there are already signs that the same ruthless form of field bombing used to crush Russian Ukrainian forces, deploying fighter jets, multiple launch rocket systems and even short-range ballistic missiles such as the Tochka-U. strategy will be used.
Serhi Heyde, the head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said on Friday: “There is a lot of military equipment. According to our information, at least six Tochka-U have been released only in the direction of Starobilsk to Lysichansk. There is a sufficiently destructive force – six It’s a total disaster.”
The loss of Severodnetsk – and, potentially, Lysichansk – could cost Ukrainian calculations, the heavy firepower of Russian forces and the apparent improvement in Russian logistics since the campaign against Kyiv was abandoned. But every town and city defense provides an opportunity to bring down the enemy.
Large areas of the neighboring Donetsk region are still under the control of Ukraine. The regional military administration says that about 45% of Donetsk is held by the Ukrainian military, which includes the cities of Sloviask and Kramatorsk.
In the area of open countryside, there are not many clear defensive positions west of Lysychansk. Ukrainian commanders must decide whether the entire pocket – boldly defended for weeks – is better left for the more consolidated defense of Donetsk’s industrial belts of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Kostiantinivka.
The question is whether the losses suffered by Russian forces in recent weeks will reduce their ability and willingness to capture more territory, especially as Ukraine deploys more precise Western weapons such as the HIMARS rocket system.
Equally, it is unclear whether the punishment endured by Ukrainian units in the Donbass region over the past two months has left them with sufficient resources to launch counter-attacks against Russian flanks (as they did in the Kharkiv region in the north). against the advancing Russian army.
The Kremlin has not deviated from its ultimate objective of capturing Donetsk and Luhansk. It’s almost all the latter now. The “special military operation” would still take weeks, and potentially more months, if at all to complete. It has become a classic war of escape.