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

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