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Ukraine War Update: The Battle For Donetsk Has Begun

Russian Artillery Firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Russian military is massing all of its available reserves for a move on Donetsk in eastern Ukraine after taking nearly all of Luhansk province in recent fighting.

Both Luhansk and Donetsk are part of Ukraine’s industrial heartland of Donbas province. Luhansk regional governor Serihy Haidai said that the Russians had taken heavy casualties in the fighting for the towns of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, but was reorganizing its forces for a push into Donetsk.

“Heavy fighting is going on at the edge of Luhansk region … All the forces of the Russian army and reserves have been redirected there … They are sustaining heavy losses,” Haidai said to Ukrainian television media.

“A large quantity of equipment is being sent towards Donetsk region. Of course, after Luhansk region, Donetsk is at the top of their list,” he added.

“We restrain the enemy on the border of Luhansk region and Donetsk region — the occupiers are suffering significant losses, as they themselves admit,” Haidai said. “Every day, the Russians receive an order to advance further, but they do not always carry it out, because the losses in personnel are very significant.

“During the assault of Lysychansk alone, the enemy lost thousands of dead and wounded. Yes, they have more forces and means, but the Ukrainian army is better prepared and motivated.”

Russians Continue to Indiscriminately Shell Civilians

The Russian military continues to use widespread and indiscriminate artillery fire as they launch a new offensive for Ukraine’s Donetsk province, Ukrainian officials said, a day after Moscow declared victory in the neighboring province of Luhansk. 

Russian troops were attempting to force a crossing at the Siverskiy Donets River, according to Haidai. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian troops on the capture of the city of Lysychansk on Sunday, which now lies in ruins. 

Ukrainian forces were already engaged by heavy shelling with Russian artillery pounding their territory ahead of the expected offensive. The Russians are expected to move on the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, in the heaviest fighting Europe has seen in generations.

Civilians have taken the brunt of the artillery shelling, in the city of Slovyansk, two civilians were killed and seven others wounded, according to local Ukrainian officials. Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said the two cities had both been pounded with heavy artillery strikes during the night. “There is no safe place without shelling in the Donetsk region.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Kyrylenko urged the province’s people to flee, saying that if they leave Donetsk Oblast, it would enable the Ukrainian army better to defend towns from the Russian advance, thus saving lives. There was a pre-invasion population of 1,670,000 of which about 350,000 remain in the province.  

“I call on everyone to evacuate. Evacuation saves lives,” he added.

“It is difficult to persuade people to evacuate,” Kyrylenko said late last week. “We are working on that all the time. People are starting to leave more actively, as there is chaotic shelling of civilian infrastructure.”

Putin recognized the proxy self-described “people’s republics” consisting of separatists that have been fighting with the Ukrainian military since 2014. The invasion this February was ostensibly to stem the “genocide” of Russian-speaking people and the “denazification” of Ukraine. Both of those justifications have been disproven. 

U.S. Will Not Meet With Russia At G20 Summit

State Department spokesperson Ned Price acknowledged that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will not meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the G20 summit that is being held in Bali, Indonesia. 

Citing Russia’s “unprovoked, brutal war” against Ukraine, Price said that the “time is not right” for an engagement between the two countries. 

“We would like to have the Russians give us a reason to meet on a bilateral basis with them, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, but the only thing we have seen emanate from Moscow is more brutality and aggression against the people and country of Ukraine,” Price said. 

In a turn of events, Lavrov, in Hanoi prior to the G20 summit, said that all countries in the world should make efforts to protect international laws as “the world is evolving in a complicated manner.” Russia has been accused of breaking many international laws during its invasion of Ukraine. 

Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

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Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.