In the East Ukraine the fight is brutal……
Russia’s capture of the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, a significant victory for Moscow’s campaign to conquer eastern Ukraine, demonstrates the success of the Russian military’s grinding strategy based on superior firepower and incremental advances.
It also raises serious questions about how long either side can keep going like this, particularly the battered and vastly outgunned Ukrainian forces, forced to rely on raw recruits and suffering heavy casualties, along with the mental strain of combat, retreat and constant Russian shelling.
Russia’s invasion has taken a brutal toll on its own forces as well, but they continue their slow advance, and with the seizure of Lysychansk this weekend, they have taken control of the entirety of Luhansk Province, putting them in position to push on toward Ukrainian-held cities in Donetsk Province.
The devastating strategy, relying heavily on long-range artillery, suits the flat terrain and shorter Russian supply lines in the east, but might not work elsewhere. And it remains unclear how far President Vladimir V. Putin intends to press the offensive, or how much more loss of men and matériel his military can absorb without needing a long pause to rebuild.
Ukrainian officials say that their goal is to inflict maximum pain on the Russians by forcing them to fight for cities, as happened in Sievierodonetsk and to a lesser extent in Lysychansk, but both cities fell, and now there are rising doubts about that approach. The strategy is also divisive among Ukrainian troops, some of whom believe that attempting to hold cities is fruitless…..
Now, Russian troops rarely advance without an overwhelming amount of backing, often in the form of heavy artillery bombardment — even if that means that what Moscow captures is in ruins. Ukrainian soldiers say that the shelling lasts for about five days before Russian forces begin testing Ukrainian lines with foot soldiers and tanks.
The fighting has clearly exhausted both sides. Ukrainian officials have estimated that their forces are suffering hundreds of casualties a day; Western intelligence puts Russian deaths and injuries at a similar level….
Ukrainian forces are increasingly relying on lesser-trained troops such as those from the territorial defense forces and National Guard to supplement exhausted units on the front lines. And Russia has turned to reinforcements such as Wagner paramilitary units, pro-Moscow Chechen forces and separatist fighters from Luhansk and Donetsk to reinforce their casualty-plagued units.
On Monday, Mr. Putin ordered that the troops involved in capturing Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk rest and “increase their combat capabilities” while other Russian formations continue fighting…..