As the five-month-long conflict entered a new phase, Russian soldiers turned their attention to their next targets in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province after President Vladimir Putin declared victory there. The Russian conquest of Luhansk, one of two regions in the industrialised eastern region of Ukraine known as Donbas, where the largest struggle in Europe in generations has taken place, was concluded on Sunday with the capture of the city of Lysychansk.
In the battle for Luhansk, all sides have sustained significant losses, particularly during the siege of the twin cities of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk. The constant Russian bombing has reduced both cities to ashes.
Nina, a young mother who had fled Lysychansk for the nearby city of Dnipro, declared, “The city doesn’t exist any more.”
It has essentially vanished off the face of the planet. Since it was attacked, there is no centre for distributing humanitarian aid. The structure that had housed the centre is no longer there. similar to many of our homes.
Tuesday saw the establishment of new defensive positions by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk, where they still maintain control of the major cities, as Putin urged his troops to “completely rest and recuperate their military fitness” as fighting continues elsewhere.
Russia has insisted that Ukraine turn over both Luhansk and Donetsk to pro-Moscow separatists who have established autonomous statelets since the start of the conflict.
In a video broadcast online, Oleksiy Arestovych, a counsellor to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, declared, “This is the last triumph for Russia on Ukrainian land.”
These cities were of a moderate size. And it took 90 days to complete, starting on April 4 and ending on July 4. Countless losses
In addition to the struggle for Donetsk, Arestovych stated that Ukraine hoped to conduct counteroffensives in the south of the nation.
It is challenging to reroute Russian forces to the south because 60% of their forces are now concentrated in the east as a result of taking the eastern cities, he claimed.
“And there are no longer any Russian forces that may be imported. For Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, they paid dearly.
Some military analysts believed the hard-fought win had yielded little strategic benefit for Russian forces and that the result of what has come to be known as the “war of the Donbas” remained uncertain.
According to Neil Melvin of the RUSI think tank in London, “I think it’s a tactical triumph for Russia but at a tremendous cost.” He compared the conflict to the massive battles fought during World War One for small territorial gains.
He said, “This has advanced extremely slowly over the past 60 days. The crucial fight in the conflict has not yet taken place, but I believe the Russians may announce some sort of triumph.
Melvin predicted that the crucial struggle for Ukraine would likely take place in the south, where Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive to retake lost ground, rather than the east, where Russia is focusing its primary attack.
“We can observe that the Ukrainians are advancing in the area of Kherson at this point. There are counterattacks starting there, and I believe that Ukraine will most likely gain momentum as it attempts to launch a massive counteroffensive to drive the Russians back, he said.
Despite Ukraine’s departure from Lysychansk on Sunday, Zelenskiy said on Monday that its men were still engaged in combat.
In a daily video message, Zelenskiy declared, “The Armed Forces of Ukraine retaliate, push back, and destroy the offensive capabilities of the occupiers day after day.”
“We must disarm them. It is a challenging task. Time and superhuman effort are needed. But there is no other option.
Since its forces were thwarted in their attempt to take Kyiv in March, Moscow has come closest to fulfilling one of its avowed goals during the struggle for Luhansk. Since seizing control of the southern port of Mariupol in late May, this is Russia’s biggest success.
On February 24, Putin declared the invasion of Ukraine to be a “special military operation” in an effort to demilitarise its southern neighbour and save Russian speakers from so-called “fascist” nationalists. This, according to Ukraine and the West, is merely an excuse for blatant territorial invasion.
Although the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Gaidai, admitted that Russia now essentially controlled the entire province, he said: “We need to win the war, not the struggle for Lysychansk… Although it hurts a lot, the war is still being won.
According to Gaidai, Ukrainian forces that left Lysychansk were currently manning the line between Bakhmut and Sloviansk and getting ready to repel any further Russian advances.
The battlefield accounts were not corroborated by Reuters.
The possibility of a protracted counterattack by Ukraine depends in part on the West providing more weaponry, like as rockets that can obliterate Russia’s significant firepower advantage by striking far behind the front line.
Arestovych stated, “It depends on how quickly the supplies arrive.
“There are simply not enough weapons available in the West to meet demand. After all, this is the largest combat to occur since 1945. Therefore, there is a need for greater weapon production, which is now underway. And quickly enough that there will be a sizable arsenal by the fall.