Ukraine War Update: On day 132 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is pushing for additional gains in the Donbas following successes of the past few days in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
The Russian War in the Donbas, Ukraine
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the situation in the Donbas and the recent Russian successes there.
In just over a week, the Russian military captured Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, the last two major urban centers in the Luhansk province. (In a sense, everything began in the Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk provinces, part of which have been under Russian control since 2014; pro-Russian Ukrainians live in large parts of the two provinces, and when the Russian military invaded and annexed Crimea, they tried to secede.)
“Russia’s relatively rapid capture of Lysychansk extends its control across virtually all of the territory of Luhansk Oblast, allowing it to claim substantive progress against the policy objective it presented as the immediate purpose of the war, namely ‘liberating’ the Donbas,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
The latest leadership changes in the Russian command seem to have produced results with different Russian units working together with relative success.
“Unlike in previous phases of the war, Russia has probably achieved reasonably effective co-ordination between at least two Groupings of Forces, the Central Grouping likely commanded by General-Colonel Alexandr Lapin and the Southern Grouping probably under the recently appointed General Sergei Surovikin,” the British Ministry of Defense added.
But it is worth noting that the Ukrainian military wasn’t routed from Severodonetsk or Lysychansk. Indeed, in the two cities, the Russians won because the Ukrainians chose to tactically withdraw and fight from better-defended positions.
“After heavy fighting for Lysychansk, the Defense Forces of Ukraine were forced to withdraw from their occupied positions and lines. In the face of Russian occupation troops’ multiple advantage in artillery, aviation, active basefire systems, ammunition and personnel, continuing the city’s defense would lead to fatal consequences. In order to save the lives of Ukrainian defenders, the decision to leave was made,” the Ukrainian General Staff announced.
“Ukrainian forces have likely largely withdrawn in good order, in line with existing plans. The Ukrainian held areas of Sieverodonetsk-Lyschansk consisted of a bulge or salient which Russian could attack from three sides. There is a realistic possibility that Ukrainian forces will now be able to fall back to a more readily defendable, straightened front line,” the British Military Intelligence added.
However, the Russian military will continue to employ its new tactics in Donetsk as well, given the relative success they have had in Luhansk. The Russian forces have been relying on masses of artillery barrages to pave the way for their tanks and mechanized infantry. Indeed, the recent Russian successes are mainly because Russian artillery pieces have been pounding the Ukrainian positions so hard that the defenders are destroyed or forced back.
“The battle for the Donbas has been characterised by slow rates of advance and Russia’s massed employment of artillery, levelling towns and cities in the process. The fighting in Donetsk Oblast will almost certainly continue in this manner,” the British Ministry of Defense assessed.
“We just gotta keep on fighting . Unfortunately, steel will and patriotism are not enough for success – material and technical resources are needed. Defenders of Luhansk region and other regions of our country heroically perform their civil and military duties. We will come back and win for sure!” the Ukrainian General Staff added.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Russian military continues to suffer serious casualties in Ukraine, amounting to an average of 200 troops killed and between 400 to 600 wounded every day. Moscow is hurting for experienced men but can’t call up its full reserves because Russian President Vladimir Putin insists on calling the largest war on European soil since the end of World War Two a “special military operation.”
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 36,350 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 217 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 187 attack and transport helicopters, 1,594 tanks, 806 artillery pieces, 3,772 armored personnel carriers, 247 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 2,634 vehicles and fuel tanks, 105 anti-aircraft batteries, 660 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 65 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 144 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.