Battle for Donbass metropolis: what speaks for the defenders of Sieverodonetsk

With great effort, Moscow's troops are trying to conquer the last Ukrainian areas in the Luhansk region.

Battle for Donbass metropolis: what speaks for the defenders of Sieverodonetsk

With great effort, Moscow's troops are trying to conquer the last Ukrainian areas in the Luhansk region. In the city of Sievjerodonetsk, the situation is getting worse. However, a Ukrainian military correspondent sees some factors in favor of the defenders.

The second phase of the Russian invasion has been raging in the Donbass for a good six weeks. After a number of setbacks at the beginning, Moscow's armed forces are again gaining ground. The reason for the success may also be the change in strategy initiated by Moscow. Instead of concentrating on a large pincer attack, Russia's troops are now attacking the front at several points simultaneously.

The Russian forces made an important front breakthrough with the capture of the town of Popasna. From there, Moscow's units have been pushing north towards Sievjerodonetsk and west towards the important transport hub of Bakhmut for about two weeks. Military experts fear that the Kremlin wants to encircle the approximately 10,000 Ukrainian defenders in the Sievjerodonetsk-Lysychansk metropolitan area.

For the leadership in Moscow, the capture of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk seems to have absolute priority. The two major cities are the last in the Luhansk region still held by Ukraine. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently called taking Donbass an "unconditional priority" for his country. The US military research institute ISW reported that Moscow is even withdrawing reserves from other front sections.

Kremlin units are already pushing towards Sievjerodonetsk head-on. The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Gajday, described the situation as "extremely complicated". According to Ukrainian sources, the city has already been half conquered by the Russians. Is Ukraine now threatened with a second Mariupol, as Governor Gajdaj feared last week?

The Ukrainian military correspondent Illia Ponomarenko does not see the conditions for a siege as yet. In order to close the ring around Sieverodonetsk, Moscow's troops coming from the west would have to cross the Seversky Donets River, writes Ponomarenko in the US magazine Forbes. The crossing of the river had already failed with high losses.

In addition, the Ukrainian general staff sent three refreshed brigades into the combat area over the weekend. The supply lines to the city are still intact. The terrain also speaks for the defenders, says Ponomarenko. Since Lyssychansk, which borders to the south, is on a hill, Sievjerodonetsk can be seen well. Both cities are also separated by the Siwerskyj Donez, which represents a natural barrier.

Nevertheless, Ponomarenko describes the coming month as a difficult period for Ukraine. The journalist assumes that Kyiv wants to further decimate the Russian units in the fortified city. He expects a protracted house-to-house fight and many victims.

But what happens afterwards? After conquering Donbass, will Putin launch another offensive? The ISW considers this unlikely. "When the battle for Sieverodonetsk is over, no matter which side ends up controlling the city, the Russian offensive will probably have reached its peak at the operational and strategic level," the analysts wrote in their situation report over the weekend.

The Ukrainian army has already inflicted enormous losses on the Russian forces in the Sieverodonetsk area. Moscow will not be able to find enough men for another offensive as it uses its soldiers as "consumables" in the battle for the city, experts said.

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