Since Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv area at the end of March, the focus of Russian attacks has been on the Donbass in the east of the country.
Russian efforts are currently focused primarily on conquering the city of Sievjerodonetsk in Luhansk. With this, Moscow could declare complete control over the area and thus declare one of the goals of the alleged “special operation” to have been fulfilled.
However, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a capture of Sieverodonetsk would have only one value – to announce success. “The Russians are paying a price for their current success that is grossly disproportionate to any strategic or tactical advantages,” says the current ISW report. Due to the constant shelling of the city, it was almost completely destroyed anyway. As a result, their strategic and tactical value, apart from heraldable successes, becomes even lower.
“Putin is hurling men and ammunition at the last remaining population center in this oblast – Sieverodonetsk – as if taking the city would win the war for the Kremlin. He’s wrong,” states the ISW. “When the battle for Sieverodonetsk is over, no matter who holds the city, the Russian offensive will probably have reached its operational and strategic peak – giving Ukraine the chance to launch its counter-offensives to restart in order to push back the Russian troops”, the military experts analyze.
But, as the ISW notes: The Ukrainians are also suffering heavy losses in the battle for Sievjerodonetsk. However, the Russian army has devoted a far larger proportion of its army to the offensive in the east than Ukraine. And: The wear and tear factor in Sievjerodonetsk speaks clearly for Ukraine. In the long term, the Russian focus on Sievjerodonetsk offers Ukraine a great chance of its own success, according to “ISW”.
Another point: according to “ISW”, reports of declining morale among Russian troops are piling up. There are repeated reports that Russian generals are prioritizing the rescue of material over soldiers. For example, there are increasing reports of Russian drivers who are not allowed to evacuate wounded soldiers from the war zone so as not to endanger the vehicles. Should this further torpedo the morale of the Russian army, Ukrainian counter-offensives would be all the more effective, the “ISW” experts analyze. The fight for this – strategically – insignificant city threatens to become a strategic fiasco for Putin.
Russian offensives in other parts of Ukraine have largely come to a standstill. In Kharkiv, for example, the Russian army is only concentrating on defending against the Ukrainian counter-offensives. The offensive in Donetsk Oblast is also faltering. The ISW analyzes that the Russian army is only making “extremely little” progress there.
The capture of the small town of Lyman should further intensify the attack on Sieverodonetsk. Lyman is strategically important as a railway junction and road link to the Sievarodonetsk – Lysychansk in the east and Sloviansk – Kramatorsk in the south-west.
Reports from Russia had already announced the capture of Sievjerodonetsk. According to the governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Hajdaj, the city is still under the Ukrainian flag.
This week, Russian troops recorded a surprising number of military victories in Donbass, including the capture of the city of Lyman. Three important lessons can be drawn from this, says military expert Mick Ryan.