Russian Forces Are Stalled in Eastern Ukraine – Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said this week that Russian soldiers in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine are still stalled and struggling to take complete control of the area despite weeks of resupply missions and the reallocation of troops from central Ukraine.
“Russians have not made the kind of progress in the Donbas and in the south that we believe they wanted to make,” Kirby said in a press briefing on Wednesday. “We do believe they’re behind schedule. We do believe it has been slow at every turn and they have met a stiff Ukrainian resistance.”
British Defense Officials Agree
On Wednesday, British defense officials made the same assessment, arguing that Russian forces are “struggling to break through” Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region.
In an intelligence update shared online, the British Ministry of Defence described how the Russian military has deployed a total of 22 battalion tactical groups near Izyum as part of an effort to advance through the northern parts of Donbas.
“Despite struggling to break through Ukrainian defences and build momentum, Russia highly likely intends to proceed beyond Izyum to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk,” the update reads.
British defense chiefs say that Russia is working to capture the cities to consolidate their control of the north-eastern Dombas region and to “provide a staging point” for their ongoing efforts to cut off Ukrainian forces in the area.
Russian troops have spent weeks working to control the south-eastern regions between Crimea and Donbas, which has resulted in the total destruction of the port city of Mariupol.
Russia’s Latest Attacks
Russian forces killed 21 Ukrainian civilians and injured another 27 on Tuesday, according to a post by Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
According to Kyrylenko, 10 were killed at a coking plant in the town of Avdiivka. He also said that the attack was the biggest since Russian soldiers attack the Kramatorsk railway station, killing 50 people.
Also on Tuesday, Russian forces fired missiles at the Azovstal steel plant. Airstrikes also destroyed power stations in Lviv in the west of Ukraine.
While Russian troops are primarily focused on taking control of the Donbas region, strikes continue in central and western Ukraine as part of a coordinated effort to disrupt supply convoys.
United States officials also warned on Monday that Russian forces will escalate attacks in the east to annex embattled regions. The comments came as Russia launched new missile attacks on the port city of Odessa. The strikes hit a residential building, killing five people. Among the deceased was a 15-year-old boy, and one young girl was also reportedly injured.
As Russia struggles to achieve its goals in Ukraine, strikes on residential buildings and major civilian population centers are likely to intensify.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.