November 30, 2022

Severodonetsk: Two months on, Russia is still struggling to capture this small Ukrainian city

4 min read

Severodonetsk’s fierce Ukrainian defense, despite heavy losses, has forced the Russians to concentrate their firepower on a relatively small area, and has continued its efforts to occupy 10% of the territory in Luhansk on which it still maintains. Have no control

Russian President Vladimir Putin Has announced its occupation of eastern Luhansk, Ukraine. Donetsk The region is one of the targets of Moscow’s special military operation, which began in February. For now, that operation is largely stalled. A large part of Donetsk is beyond the reach of the Russians.

Russian forces are making modest gains – the Russian Defense Ministry said Sunday that the town of Metelkino, southeast of Severodonetsk, has been captured. But the Russians’ goal of encircling Ukrainian troops and defending the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk is still a long way off.

In a campaign of lack of agility and imagination, the Russians have resorted to a basic strategy: massive indirect firing against any and all Ukrainian positions, regardless of any mutual catastrophe.

The point is, such a thing cannot be omitted. The use of troops on the ground to occupy urban areas has been less frequent and less successful.

Smoke billows from the city of Sverdlovsk, seen on June 8, 2022 in the Lysichansk region of Luhansk, Ukraine.

In a video released by Ukrainian Special Forces in the region over the weekend, an unnamed Ukrainian soldier says: “They are throwing all the ammunition they have. It doesn’t matter to them. “Whether it’s our positions or the urban areas, they clear everything off the ground and then use artillery and then slowly start moving.”

Amid heavy civil fighting, about 500 civilians, including dozens of children, have taken refuge at the Azot Chemical Plant in Severodontsk. On the contrary Azovstal plant in Mariupol, It provides a little protection under the ground. Ukrainian officials say the people there, who had previously refused to leave, have food supplies but cannot be evacuated due to heavy fighting.

But like Azovstal, the Azot plant and its immediate surroundings have become the focal point of Ukrainian resistance – to frustrated Russian commanders.

According to a think tank from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in Washington, That would be complicated by the slow war going on for Severdonetsk. ”

Just as Mariupol’s defense has joined more than a dozen battalion tactical groups, so too has the resistance in Severodontisk been proving difficult.

Grinding resistance

The Ukrainians claim to have inflicted heavy casualties on Russian forces in the region – partly thanks to new Western allied equipment, including anti-tank weapons and long-range mortars provided by the United States and France. On Saturday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed that units of Russia’s 11th Separated Motorized Rifle Regiment had been severely damaged and had been “withdrawn from combat operations to restore combat capability.”

However, Ukraine’s supply lines are under constant attack, and it has become increasingly difficult to deliver supplies from the west to the Donetsk region along the highway to Lysysky.

ISW still expects “Russian forces to be able to occupy Severodonetsk in the coming weeks, but at the cost of concentrating most of their available forces in this small area.”

During the Russian invasion of Ukraine on June 12, 2022, a Ukrainian soldier walks into a trench at a Ukrainian military position between the southern cities of Mikolaev and Kherson.

The Russians’ strategy so far suggests a campaign to crush the resistance in the south of the city – in places like Syrotyne – and then attacks the Ukrainian defense from several directions.

Ukrainian officials say the Russians are using drones to indicate their defensive positions. “The Russian military is conducting day-and-night aerial surveillance by drones, adjusting firepower, and rapidly adapting our changes in the defense sector,” said Sergei Heide, head of the Luhansk regional military administration.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson say Western support for Kyiv should not stop.

Elsewhere along an active front line that stretches for 1,000 kilometers (over 620 miles), a small area is currently given or taken.

The main goal of the Russians in Donbass is to take the industrial city and transport center of Sloviansk and the town of Bakhmot in Donetsk – but they have made very limited progress towards both. They could also pose a threat of Ukrainian counter-attacks south and west of the city of Azim.

Southern Ukraine presents a different picture. The Russians seem to be consolidating the gains made in the early days of the war, with lines that allow them to defend the coastline in depth. Ukraine’s counter-attacks on the town of Kherson have made limited progress, as the Russians have now dug well and show little appetite for trying to win more territory.

As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said after his second visit to Kyiv on Sunday: “Time is of the essence. Everything will depend on Ukraine’s ability to defend its territory faster than Russia’s. It can strengthen as much as Russia renews its ability to attack. ”

Broken heart

Some of Ukraine’s best military units have been punished in the defense of Donbass. Defense Minister Oleksiy Rezhenkov told CNN last week that tens of thousands of Ukrainians had been killed since the Russian offensive began on February 24.

The UK Ministry of Defense estimated this weekend that Ukrainian forces may have suffered a possible setback in recent weeks – although it believes that Russian morale is very weak.

Therefore, it is not just a matter of acquiring the right weapons for long-range strikes on Ukrainian forces, but also of increasing training. Johnson is pushing for a plan that would allow the Allies to train 10,000 troops every 120 days.

Despite their losses, and even when they deploy old T62 tanks in some places, Russian forces have a strong lead in armored and combat aviation. And despite a well-thought-out and predictable strategy, they can continue to undermine Ukraine’s defense. A video surfaced over the weekend showing the scale of the catastrophe in Lemon, near Sloviansk, just as Popasna and Rubies equaled further east in April.

But with the rapid flow of weapons capable of destroying Russia’s advantage in heavy artillery and rocket systems, Ukrainian forces can still prevent the enemy from wreaking such havoc on more towns and cities further west.

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