The war in Ukraine is increasingly focused on the “Battle of Severodonetsk”. Military experts believe that the fight for the last Ukrainian bastion in Donbass could decide Putin’s war. Russian “Frankenstein troops” also play a role. Harald Kujat, once inspector general of the Bundeswehr, sees things differently. And praises Chancellor Scholz for his cautious policy.

From the start, the Donbass region in south-eastern Ukraine has played a key role in Putin’s illegal war of aggression. In the two oblasts (regions) Donetsk and Luhansk there is a Russian minority whose autonomy status is one of the biggest points of contention between Moscow and Kyiv. And that was before 2014, when the Kremlin’s warmonger troops invaded Crimea and annexed the peninsula.

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The intensification of Russian attacks on the Donbass region in general is an indication that Putin now wants to use all his might to implement his “minimum war goal”: to gain control of south-eastern Ukraine.

This is especially true for the city of Severodonetsk. As the last Ukrainian bastion in the southeast of the country, the site, which was home to 100,000 people before the war, is still held by Ukrainian troops. And the fight is getting bloodier: every day up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are killed in the resistance struggle, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has now admitted. According to Ukrainian information from “Espreso TV”, the Russian troops would try to encircle the city after the strategically important port of Mariupol fell.

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According to Schmidt, the pressure on Putin has grown immensely simply because of the large losses of high-ranking Russian officers. In addition, the Kremlin despot was forced by the high injury rate in the ranks of his troops to fight the battles with makeshift “Frankenstein squads” that were not well-rehearsed because they came from different units.

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The expert cites the fact that these troops are exhausted from the war, which has now lasted three months, as a further handicap. Not good conditions for a fight against a still highly motivated Ukrainian army that is still holding its position in one of the last bastions in the Donbass.

According to the governor, the hurdles for Moscow are high. A defeat would have “devastating effects on the strategic position and morale” of Russian troops, according to Haidai. Even a Russian win would not necessarily mean the end for the Ukrainian fight as casualties could be heavy for the Russians as well. This could give their troops time to reorganize for a resistance struggle and keep the pressure on Putin’s forces high.

In addition to artillery fire, Putin’s troops are now also using rockets in the “Battle of Severodonetsk”. Selenskyj himself had emphasized the importance of this fight in his speech at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland. “If the aggressor loses everything then it will definitely cost him his motivation to fight this war.”

Kujat did not want to comment on the significance of the “Battle of Severodonetsk”. “The situation is very dynamic right now, and Zelensky’s reactions clearly show that,” said the former high-ranking military man. Among other things, Kujat was sent to Moscow in 1983 by then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU) to campaign for a restoration of nuclear deterrence in the Kremlin because of the NATO double-track decision-making process, after this had been thrown off balance by Russian SS-20 missiles.

In contrast to some other high-ranking ex-military officers, Kujat defended Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) for his “supposedly hesitant actions”. “Basically, the Chancellor is actually doing it very cleverly. He weighs his decisions very carefully and keeps his hand on the pulse of the current situation,” said Kujat to FOCUS Online. According to Kujat, what is still missing for success is “one last step”: “Scholz should travel with French President Emmanuel Macorn to US President Biden and clarify how this war can be ended politically.”