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Russia Might Win in Donbas, But the War in Ukraine Looks “Unsustainable”

Russian TOS-1 firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Ukraine War Update: On day 127 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is getting closer to achieving its goal of capturing the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Fighting in the Donbas 

Over the past weeks, the Russian forces have slowly but steadily pushed the Ukrainian forces out of the Donbas. After weeks of fighting, Severodonetsk fell. And now next-door Lysychansk seems to be next. The Russian forces have advanced to the outskirts of the Ukrainian city and are fighting their way toward the city’s center. The Ukrainian military occupies the high ground, and that is an advantage. But the Russian forces continue to use devastating long-range fires to push back the defenders.

In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the situation on the Donbas and the recent developments after the fall of Severodonetsk to the Russian troops.

“Ukrainian forces continue to hold their positions in the city of Lysychansk following their withdrawal from Sieverodonetsk,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

The Russian military has been trying to cut off the Ukrainian positions from their lines of communications and supply in several places in the Donbas. In addition to the offensive southwest of Lysychansk, Russian forces are advancing toward Bakhmut and Bereslove, both located further southwest of Lysychansk.

“Russian forces continue to pursue an approach of creeping envelopment from the Popasna direction, removing the need to force a major new crossing of the Siverskyi Donets River in this sector. Current ground combat is likely focused around the Lyschansk oil refinery, 10km south-west of the city centre,” the British Ministry of Defense added.

So, if one looks at the map of the Donbas right now, one will see a scene that resembles a noose that is being slowly but steadily tightened up. Despite their significant shortcomings, the Russian forces are gaining ground and pushing Ukraine’s forces back to the west.

“At the operational level, Russian forces continue to make limited progress as they attempt to encircle Ukrainian defenders in northern Donetsk Oblast via advances from Izium. It is highly likely that Ukrainian forces’ ability to continue fighting delaying battles, and then withdraw troops in good order before they are encircled, will continue to be a key factor in the outcome of the campaign,” the British Military Intelligence stated.

Meanwhile, the Russian military also announced on Thursday that it had withdrawn its forces from the famous Snake Island after repeated attacks by the Ukrainians.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

The rate of Russian casualties remains unsustainable, though it has slowed down over the past few weeks.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 35,600 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 217 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 185 attack and transport helicopters, 1,573 tanks, 790 artillery pieces, 3,726 armored personnel carriers, 246 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 14 boats and cutters, 2,602 vehicles and fuel tanks, 103 anti-aircraft batteries, 641 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 61 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 143 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

More Weapons to Ukraine? 

During the NATO meeting in Spain, U.S. President Joe Biden suggested that the U.S. would be sending another package of security aid to Ukraine. The Pentagon has already sent the Ukrainian military billions worth of weapon systems. And a recent conversation between the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Ukrainian opposite number, Oleksii Reznikov, does indeed indicate that further military aid will soon be on its way to Ukraine.

After a call between the two defense secretaries, the Pentagon stated that “Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov to reaffirm the enduring commitment of the United States and our Allies and partners to strengthen Ukraine’s capacity to counter Russian aggression, as demonstrated at the NATO Madrid Summit. Secretary Austin condemned the Russian missile strike on a crowded Ukrainian shopping mall and offered his condolences for the civilians killed as a result of Russia’s most recent atrocity.

Secretary Austin provided an update on U.S. security assistance efforts and exchanged perspectives with Minister Reznikov on its impact on the battlefield. The leaders also discussed plans for the next Ukraine Defense Contact Group to be held virtually in July.”

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.



  1. Stefan Stackhouse

    June 30, 2022 at 9:01 pm

    I know the Ukrainians hold the high ground. Still, I would think it to be prudent to pull their artillery out NOW while they still can. They have so little already. If they delay too long, then they run the risk of not only losing these scarce weapons, but even of having them fall into the Russian’s hands.

  2. speedster

    June 30, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Russian dead and wounded 142,000 compared with original invasion force of 140,000. Admittedly Russia has added additional troops of some 82,000, however the original Russian army before invasion was 280,000, leaving 56,000 in Russia proper, to guard Russia’s long borders. It is clear that Putin is reaching the limits of what he can do with the shrinking Russian army.

    The invasion of Ukraine by Putin was deliberately defined as a “special operation” and not a war, although the UN, did not provided any authority to define the ukraine invasion. Putin has ensured that recruitment for the conflict does not include the main Russian cities, confirming the reluctance for the conflict to affect the residents of the main cities.

    The ukraine conflict has become more long lasting than Putin anticipated and the casualties mounting are putting pressure on Putin to either proclaim general conscription, which would affect the main cities, he was reluctant to involve, or to call a halt to the conflict. The problem for Putin in the latter case is that Ukraine has no incentive to call a halt to the conflict, which leaves Russia with illegally acquired ukraine territory.

    • Joel Weymouth

      July 1, 2022 at 2:17 pm

      You got your numbers from British intelligence that is trying to hoodwink us into another European War. They are suggesting that Russia is a hollow shell. That of course would be a TERRIBLE mistake.
      UK did it twice last century, and I don’t think it is a good idea to go to war with a thermonuclear power.

      • Arch

        July 1, 2022 at 9:04 pm

        Soviet finland war 2.0 once russia takes over the donbas then they will negotiate with ukraine to end the war with ukraine giving up their eastern portion and probably some black sea areas just like how finland had to surrender their southeast and northern part of their nation

  3. Cubix

    July 1, 2022 at 3:19 am

    The Russian federation attacked with a force of approximately 200k. With 35k dead and 130k wounded how is it possible that they are driving the Ukrainian forces out of cities on the high ground?

  4. Charles B. Van Duzer

    July 1, 2022 at 11:12 am

    The Soviet Union lost between eight and eleven million military casualties in WWII. Your idea of sustainability may not match theirs. The war has to continue until Putin can claim some sort of victory. Right now he has no off ramp and the fighting will continue.

  5. gpd

    July 1, 2022 at 11:19 am

    Do not for a minute think that Putin will not use tactical nukes when he sees that winning with conventional forces is untenable. As long as he limits the strikes to Ukrainian territories, NATO will not retaliate with nukes. Russia will win this one way or another. Do not delude yourself.

    • Gennaro pupa

      July 1, 2022 at 6:40 pm

      Unfortunately, Ukraine is now allowing itself to become the host of the coming massive attack by western allies. So much so, that the occupation of foreign troops and equipment, that in a few years ukraine will have lost most of its culture, and a country that will no longer be recognized as it once was.
      General Ike reminded the world of the military industrial complex. We are beginning to witness that.
      Zelenskyy, you still have options to save ukraine from Russia and the coming plan of war that will leave ukraine unrecognizable.

  6. Architect

    July 1, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    I love visiting neocon sites for comic relief articles like this one… Literally every word of this story is false… Keep up a good job!

    • Dave

      July 2, 2022 at 12:59 am

      100% right

  7. Joel Weymouth

    July 1, 2022 at 2:25 pm

    You are getting you numbers from MI6. Their purpose is not to get the truth, but to hoodwink the US into another war in Europe.

    Let’s use some perspect:

    The Russian Army took about 11 months to push the Nazis out of the Ukraine.(November 1943 to October 1944). The parity was just about the same. Ukraine favors the Invader going EAST but hurts the nation trying to recover the territory. River, after River, marshes and not a lot of roads. The central portion is flat, but who wants to destroy the farmland. Russia is winning, they were winning from the beginning. This is a war of attrition. They KILL their enemies, not try to gain territory. You in the media have been lying about it since the beginning.

    • Bertram

      July 1, 2022 at 3:43 pm

      Every day things improve.
      More Russian fascists dead and Russia cements a permanent enemy that hates them sitting on their border.

  8. Francis Maikisch

    July 1, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    What is unsustainable is the amount of American money keeping Ukraine in the fight. Yet again, on the heels of the Afghanistan debacle, we are spending tens of billions of dollars for war, to defend another country’s borders. Despite the totally unexpected incompetence of the Russian military, the Ukrainians cannot win. The fundamentals of war cannot be changed or overcome.

  9. Dave

    July 2, 2022 at 1:06 am

    What a load of crap. Ukraine has been losing 500 men a day. This was over on day one. Ukraine would have one of the biggest armies in NATO,and trained to NATO standards. Russia only sending in limited part of their army has annihilated them. Even with all our help. They have hypersonic missiles that can hit US, and we can’t stop them. We tested our first hypersonic missile and it failed. Quit spreading bullshit.

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