The situation in the Donbas
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the situation in the Donbas and how the recent developments there have affected the battlefield.
“Russia likely continues to consolidate its control over Lysychansk and Luhansk Oblast. To the north, it has committed most of the remaining available units from the Eastern and Western Groups of Forces to the Izium axis,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
“Over the last week, Russian forces have likely advanced up to another 5 km down the E40 main road from Izium, in the face of extremely determined Ukrainian resistance. Russian forces from the Eastern and Western Groups of Forces are likely now around 16 km north from the town of Sloviansk,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.
“With the town also under threat from the Central and Southern Groups of Forces, there is a realistic possibility that the battle for Sloviansk will be the next key contest in the struggle for the Donbas,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Both militaries continue to suffer heavy casualties. The fighting in the Donbas is one of attrition, and whichever side can sustain the heaviest numbers of casualties but still manage to operate effectively will have an edge.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 36,500 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 217 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 187 attack and transport helicopters, 1,600 tanks, 812 artillery pieces, 3,789 armored personnel carriers, 247 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 2,648 vehicles and fuel tanks, 153 anti-aircraft batteries, 664 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 65 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 153 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
But these numbers don’t reveal everything. The Russians have been losing several ammo depots in the last few days. This is a result of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)’s first forays into the field. The Ukrainians are using four such weapon systems while they are waiting for four more from the U.S. military.
Future Negotiations and the Big Picture
The war has already gone on for more than four months. And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight as both sides have committed too much and feel strong enough to continue fighting.
But the time for negotiations will come again. And the U.S. has been preparing for it. The White House insists that it won’t negotiate with Russia about the end of the war without Ukraine. This is a matter between the two countries.
“What we have been trying to do and have been doing for the past several months is to make sure that we put — with our assistance that we have been providing — make sure we put Ukraine in the most — in the most strongest kind of position so when there is that opportunity to do those negotiations, they’re able to do that,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing.
“Our approach does not change. We are going to continue to support Ukraine. We’re going to continue to help Ukraine fight for their democracy, fight for their territorial integrity,” the U.S. official added.
The White House press secretary also offered the administration’s view on the fighting in the Donbas. Even as the Russian military was pulling back from Kyiv and refitting for a renewed offensive in the eastern Ukraine and the Donbas, Washington and Kyiv were warning that this would be a war of attrition, and it would take weeks if not months to determine a victor.
“We have said for months that the fighting in the Donbas, which is where I think you’re speaking about, could be prolonged and protracted. That is something that we have been saying for some time, and we would see with gains and with losses on both sides. We’re seeing that today,” Jean-Pierre added.
“But that doesn’t mean that the Russians have been able to achieve their goals, and that doesn’t mean that the Ukrainians have stopped fighting. They have shown their bravery. They will continue to fight for their democracy,” the White House press secretary said
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.