With a new war tactic, Putin’s army is increasingly gaining ground in eastern Ukraine. 90 percent of the Luhansk Oblast is said to be under Russian occupation. Retired brigadier general Klaus Wittmann sees an important weakness in the Ukrainian army.
After the failed attempt to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Russian troops are now striking mainly in the east of the country. Klaus Wittmann, former brigadier general in the Bundeswehr, hopes in an interview with “Welt” that “Ukraine will hold its ground”. But he also says: “The pressure from the Russian armed forces is increasing”.
90 percent of the Ukrainian Luhansk region is already under Russian occupation, and Russian firepower is far superior to that of Ukraine. This is also the crucial weakness of the Ukrainian troops. “When President Zelenskyj says the pressure is increasing, the situation is very serious,” said Wittmann. In the last seven days, the Russians have gained more ground than in the last seven weeks.
He also appealed to the federal government to quickly equip Ukraine with heavy weapons in the fight against Russia. “If you really want something, you can get it done,” said the retired general. The decision to provide Ukraine with more military support could have been made as early as March.
Russian troops are currently trying to take over the strategically important industrial city of Severodonetsk. There are “already fighting in the suburbs,” said Governor Gajdaj in online networks. “Russian troops are already close enough to fire mortar shells.”
Moscow had massively expanded the offensive around Severodonetsk in the past few days. The city and its neighboring city of Lysychansk are the last places in the Luhansk region where Ukraine is still resisting Russian troops.
“In some directions, the Russian groups undoubtedly have tactical successes, that’s basically no secret,” Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motusianyk said in Kyiv. But it is not correct to speak of a Ukrainian withdrawal. The Ukrainian army is trying to to improve their position and then attack again.” There are many settlements in the area that go from hand to hand. The situation is very dynamic.”
According to the Ukrainian Presidency, 12 people were killed in the Donetsk region by “extremely heavy shelling and attacks”. The southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia was hit by several Russian cruise missiles, it said. One person was killed and several houses were damaged.
In order to consolidate its rule in already conquered areas in southern Ukraine, Moscow announced that it would issue Russian passports to residents of the Zaporizhia and Cherson regions in a simplified procedure. Head of state Vladimir Putin signed a corresponding decree on Wednesday. Kyiv then accused Moscow of “criminal” behavior. “The illegal issuance of passports is a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as the norms and principles of international humanitarian law,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.
Military experts dissect Russian strategy change: “No breakthrough so far”
The Russian army changes its attack strategy in the Donbass. Instead of encircling the Ukrainian soldiers over a large area, Putin’s troops are concentrating on individual encirclements. Now the think tank “Institute for the Study of War” has analyzed the change of strategy and does not expect any major military breakthroughs.
The Ukrainian secret service assumes that Kremlin ruler Vladimir Putin is suffering from cancer. He is also said to have survived an assassination attempt against him unscathed. How secure the information is remains unclear.