Britain Says Russia Wants to Siege Series of East Ukrainian Cities – VnExpress

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia encouraged the operation in the Donbass and tried to encircle many cities in a bid to control the entire Lugansk province.

A report released by Britain’s Defense Ministry on May 23 said the north-south advances of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine are about 25km apart, with a Ukrainian-controlled area at its centre. Russian forces are stepping up operations as they attempt to encircle Severodonetsk, Lyshansk and Rubishne in a bid to control the entire Lugansk province in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian army continues to defend itself strongly. However, “Russian forces have made some small advances, partly due to the concentration of artillery units,” according to the UK MoD.

Ukrainian tanks move on May 18 on the Severodonetsk road in Lugansk province.  Photo: AFP.

Ukrainian tanks move on May 18 on the Severodonetsk road in Lugansk province. Picture: AFP.

“If the siege of Severodonetsk is broken, Russian forces will control the entire Lugansk province.

The British Ministry of Defense believes that a further westward shift of the Donbass front could strain Russia’s lines of communication and pose further supply and logistics difficulties for British forces.

Russia and Ukraine have so far not commented on the assessment of the British Ministry of Defense.

Russia launched a special military operation to “demilitarize and defascize Ukraine” on February 24. After nearly three months of fighting, Russian forces are taking control of the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and are believed to control about 90 percent of Lugansk, one of two provinces that make up the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.

If they control Severodonetsk, Russian forces can use it as a stepping stone to push west and attack Kramatorsk, where the Ukrainian military command in Donbass is based. Ukrainian officials have expressed concern that Severodonetsk is being surrounded and controlled by Russian forces like Mariupol.

Location of the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.  Graphics: BBC.

Location of the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine. Graphic: BBC.

Nguyen Tien (Corresponding Guardian)