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Putin Has Another Ukraine Problem: Conquering Donbas Won’t Be Easy

Ukraine Russia T-62
T-62 Tank in Russian military exercise.

Ukraine War Update: On day 57 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is still trying to break through the Ukrainian defenses in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the siege of Mariupol continues as the Russian military decided to halt its attack on the Azovstal steel plant, where the remainder of the Ukrainian troops and thousands of civilians have found refuge.

Eastern Ukraine and Mariupol 

In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that despite the renewed focus on eastern Ukraine, the Russian military would continue to launch ballistic and cruise missiles and airstrikes into other parts of Ukraine in an attempt to demoralize the Ukrainian population and frustrate the movement of troops and materiel to the east.

“Russia’s military presence on Ukraine’s eastern border continues to build while fighting in the Donbas is intensifying as Russian forces seek to break through Ukrainian Defences. Russian air activity in northern Ukraine is likely to remain low since its withdrawal from the north of Kyiv.

However, there is still a risk of precision strikes against priority targets throughout Ukraine. Russian attacks on cities across Ukraine show their intent to try and disrupt the movement of Ukrainian reinforcements and weaponry to the east of the country,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

In Mariupol, the siege goes on. Moscow promises safe passage to all those in the Azovstal steel plant who surrender, but the Ukrainian defenders rightly doubt Russian promises.

“We once again call on the Kyiv authorities to show reason and give the corresponding orders to fighters to cease their senseless resistance. But, understanding that they will not get such instructions and orders from the Kyiv authorities, we call on (the fighters) to voluntarily take this decision and to lay down their arms,” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 21,000 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 172 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 151 helicopters, 829 tanks, 393 artillery pieces, 2,118 armored personnel carriers, 136 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), eight boats, 1,508 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 67 anti-aircraft batteries, 166 unmanned aerial systems, 27 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems.

The Ukrainian Spirit Meets NATO Arms 

In a meeting with the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the combatant commander of the U.S. military, President Joe Biden highlighted the Ukrainian people’s achievements so far and the U.S. commitment to helping them fight the Russian invasion.

“And I want to applaud the exceptional work you’re doing to arm and equip brave Ukrainians that defend their nation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to Ukraine a number of times before the war. I’ve spoken to the Rada. I was deeply involved in what was going on in Ukraine. And I knew they were tough and proud, but I tell you what: They’re tougher and more proud [sic] than I thought. I’m amazed what they’re doing with your help, in terms of providing advice and — and weaponry we’re providing, along with the rest of NATO,” Biden said.

“Weapons and ammunition are flowing in daily. And we’re seeing just how vital our alliances and partnerships are around the world. Our Allies are stepping up, amplifying the impact of our response. And NATO is united, focused, and energized as it’s ever been,” Biden added.

Russian War Crimes 

The international condemnation and uproar for the Russian war crimes in Ukraine continue. Harrowing accounts from Ukrainian civilians continue to emerge. Ukrainian women who were raped are speaking up.

In one instance, 25 teenage girls were gang-raped by Russian troops, and nine of them ended up pregnant. And not even elderly women escaped the wrath and depravity of the Russian forces.

Latvia, which has had an uneasy relationship with Moscow for decades, recognized the Russian war crimes in Ukraine as genocide and adopted a law to strip any dual Latvian citizen from his Latvian citizenship if he or she supports the Russian war crimes.

Moreover, the British government accused Moscow of perpetual lying about the atrocities its troops have committed in Ukraine.

“The International Criminal Court is investigating potential Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The Kremlin continues to lie about causing civilian deaths in Mariupol and elsewhere, attempting to distract the world from the horrifying truth of its atrocities,” the British Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office stated.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.