The Situation in Ukraine
The success of the Russian efforts in the Donbas is now under question. The Russian forces had been attacking from three directions: In the north from Izium, in the east from Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, and in the south from Donetsk City. The Russian strategy was to either push simultaneously from the three axes of advance or try to link two of them together and trap the Ukrainian forces. But now that is not possible anymore.
“The Ukrainian recapture of Izyum ended the prospect that Russia could accomplish its stated objectives in Donetsk Oblast,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed recently.
“The loss of Izyum dooms the initial Russian campaign plan for this phase of the war and ensures that Russian advances toward Bakhmut or around Donetsk City cannot be decisive (if they occur at all),” the Institute for the Study of War added.
When the Russian military launched its renewed offensive in the east in mid-May, the Kremlin came out with a new objective. Instead of overthrowing the Ukrainian government and capturing Kyiv, the new objective of the Russian military in Ukraine was to establish full control over the Donbas, which included the two pro-Russian breakaway territories of Luhansk and Donetsk, and also create and sustain a land corridor between the Donbas, south Ukraine, and occupied Crimea.
To be sure, the Russian prospects in the Donbas were always debatable, but the Russian military was making progress, though incredibly slow, and the cost of thousands of troops and materiel. Indeed, in three months of offensive operations in the Donbas over the summer, the Russian forces only managed to advance up to 12 miles (and in some locations, just 2 miles).
The Situation in the East
Meanwhile, in the east, the Ukrainian forces have redrawn the frontlines.
The Oskil River is now the natural barrier that divides the forces in the east. The Ukrainian forces occupy the east bank, and their Russian adversaries the west.
The war on that front now seems to have regained some “normalcy,” as the Ukrainian forces exhausted their offensive push and now have to regroup and recuperate, while taking consolidating their positions and making sense of the vast amount of equipment that the Russian military left behind.
“I think if anyone was surprised, just based on the reports that we’ve seen in terms of the Russian military’s response, it was probably the Russians,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder during a press briefing.
“Certainly, since the beginning of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, we’ve seen the Ukrainians demonstrate a remarkable adaptability and their ability to use their warfighting capabilities to great effect. So, it’s not surprising to us that they have pushed as quickly as they have,” Ryder added.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive 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.