Are Russia’s Successes Helping To Turn The War Around?

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  • If they take Lyman, nearby Sloviansk is within shelling range, and the last Ukrainian strongholds in Luhansk Oblast — Lysychansk and Severodonetsk — are a big step closer to being encircled.
  • “War is a test of will and it’s a test of logistics,” retired U.S. Lt.
  • “Big turning points are easiest to discern in hindsight.”

Russia appears to have dialled back its immediate aspirations in Ukraine, concentrating the majority of its remaining military force in a few cities in the eastern Donbas region. Russians are also making inroads as reported by The Week.

An intense offensive

Russia’s forces are on the outskirts of Lyman, “conducting an intense offensive” to take control of the important rail hub in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.

The situation in Severodonetsk “is serious,” Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said Wednesday.

Our guys are holding on,” but “the city is constantly being shelled with every possible weapon in the enemy’s possession.”

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, “on almost every front, Russia has underachieved, while Ukraine has overachieved,” NPR reports.

But are Russia’s scorched-earth advances in the Donbas a sign that the tide of war has shifted in its favour?

Ukraine may be in trouble

Russia’s recent gains in the Donbas “offer a sobering check on expectations for the near term,” writes Michael Kofman, a Russia expert at the Center for a New American Security.

The breakthrough at Popsana and nascent encirclement of Lyman threat to cut off Sevorodonetsk and Lysychansk from reinforcements and supply lines, and the fact that Russia is making these advances, “despite a relatively weak military advantage, suggest that Ukrainian forces have suffered significant attrition.”

“Russian forces may not be prosecuting offensives with much enthusiasm, but it is equally difficult to expect them to rout or melt away,” Kofman adds. 

“Similarly, the situation within Ukraine’s army remains a major unknown, but it is clear the war is taking its toll.”

Russia can’t keep up this pace

Russia is making progress in Donbas, but it’s “paying a steep price for the gains it has made,” The Wall Street Journal reports. 

“The Kremlin is sending units from southern Ukraine to fight in Donbas, according to Ukrainian officials, and losing so many men that continued Ukrainian resistance could eventually force it to shift strategies again,” even with its already “scaled back” ambitions. 

“If they do not succeed during this week — by Saturday, Sunday — they will get tired, and the situation will at least stabilize for us.”

“War is a test of will and it’s a test of logistics,” retired U.S. Lt.

Gen. Ben Hodges, the former U.S. Army commander in Europe, tells NPR. 

Clearly, the Ukrainians have the stronger will.

All of Ukraine is up for grabs

“Russia has not yet solidified its control” over the parts of Ukraine it has captured, but “control over Ukraine remains Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal, and that goal is not going to change,” Nataliya Bugayova, a Russia researcher at the Institute for the Study of War, writes in Foreign Policy. 

“The time is now for Ukraine to expand its counteroffensive,” because “a Russian military foothold in the southeast would make any scenario to end this war costlier in lives and resources” and endanger “Ukraine’s long-term economic viability.”

They want to seize the east and south of Ukraine and then “gradually move westward” until “eventually they could potentially control the rest of the country.”

“The goal is still to topple the Ukrainian government, to eliminate the Ukrainian culture,” and ultimately “eliminate Ukraine from the map.”

Once rejuvenated, however, Russian military progress in Ukraine could look very different.”

Wars are unpredictable, but it’s still better to be Ukraine

Russia is “nibbling one little bit at a time into Ukrainian territory,” but “there are lots of Ukrainian forces well dug-in and very battle-hardened.”

“These are some of the best troops Ukraine has got,” Joe Inwood notes at BBC News.

Still, even if “the Russians take this whole oblast” and thus “cut off a large number of Ukrainian forces,” he adds, “it won’t change the overall dynamic of the war.

“It would just be another stage in the Russian advance.”

There are rumours that Ukraine is bringing in reinforcements to prevent a larger Russian breakout.

“Big turning points are easiest to discern in hindsight.”

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Source: The Week

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