Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 15 July 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
A Real Battle Of Donbas Is Yet To Come
Weeks of fighting in Ukraine’s eastern towns of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk just prompted the beginning of the real battle of Donbas. Russian efforts to push back Ukrainian forces from the entire Luhansk region have great propaganda significance, but can hardly be seen as a military success. For weeks now, Russian forces have sought to capture a small area, which affected its military capabilities elsewhere. In addition, many Russian soldiers were killed. Ukrainian troops had enough time to build a new line of defenses in Donbas. A real battle is yet to come.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Russian proxy forces had captured a third of Ukraine’s Donbas––two regions of Luhansk and Donetsk––in 2014. A Ukraine-controlled swath of this land consists predominantly of the Donetsk region. Capturing Severodonetsk and adjacent settlements is a Pyrrhic victory for Russia but Ukraine could not keep control of these swathes of land anyway. A prolonged and bloody battle of the Ukrainian foothold across the Donets River, which Russian forces had encircled from three sides, is in fact a failure of Russian forces. This is where Ukrainian defenders fought fiercely, delivering a serious blow to the Russians. This put Ukrainian forces in a much better strategic situation. They are now in an advanced position near the settlement of Bilogorivka while the town of Siversk will see heavy fighting. In this manner, Russian forces will get through directly to Ukrainian defenders, deployed along the M03 highway running southwards, from Izium to the suburbs of Sloviansk and Bakhmut. Just behind sits the city of Kramatorsk, which has been the provisional seat of Donetsk Oblast since 2014. But the Russian offensive there could take longer than in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk due to local infrastructure, Ukrainian defense capabilities, and exhaustion of Russian resources. Russia’s potential seems much weaker there than in the Luhansk region. Ukrainian forces have withdrawn the threat from Russian forces that advanced from Izium while blocking Russian troops near Kharkiv. There is no risk of being cut off. In addition, Ukrainian forces are equipped with Western-made weapons that hit precisely Russian munition depots throughout Donbas, also beyond the front line.
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