The 86th day of the war in Ukraine: Russia intensifies its operations in the Donbass

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces have stepped up raids on the city of Sieverodonetsk, apparently on the verge of launching a major offensive to take full control of Lugansk province.

Sieverodonetska town on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River, is one of the last positions still controlled by Ukrainian forces in the Lugansk region of the Donbass region.

Russian forces attempt to attack Sievierodonetsk and the city Lyshchansk on the other side after the withdrawal from the area around the capital Kyiv and northern Ukraine in April.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s military said that Russian forces launched an attack on Sieverodonetsk but “suffered casualties and were forced to retreat.” Lugansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai announced that Russian forces had doubled the frequency of shelling the city of Sievierodonetsk, but the number of casualties was unknown.

Russia has not commented on Ukraine’s above information.

Rocket artillery BM-21 Grad raids Ukrainian positions in Lugansk province

In video released on May 20, BM-21 Grad rocket artillery shells Ukrainian positions in Lugansk province. Video: Russian Defense Forces.

During a May 20 meeting, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that “the process of liberating the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) is nearing completion.” General Shoigu said Ukrainian forces are “trying to delay the advance of the Russian army by not allowing the local population to leave towns or towns.”

Western military experts estimated that after the withdrawal from some other regions of Ukraine, the Russian armed forces and the separatists intensified their attacks on the front lines. Lugansk. They consider this one of the main motivations for their goal to control all territory claimed by the Separatists.

Controlled Lugansk and Donetsk, two provinces in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine that some experts say will allow Russia to “declare victory”. Russia announced in April that this was the goal of the second phase of its special military operation in Ukraine.

Russian forces took “an important step” towards their goal of controlling the Donbass region this week after the iron and steel plant Azovstal, Ukraine’s last defensive stronghold near Mariupol, fell. Ukraine ordered the garrison here to cease resistance to save the soldiers’ lives.

General Shoigu said 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal facility laid down their arms and surrendered while the Russian army continued to surround the facility. However, the commander of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic (DPR) said that no commander of the Azov battalion left the Azovstal factory.

Ukrainian soldiers in Azovstal received orders to stop resistance

Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal factory on May 19. Video: Russian Defense Forces.

Russian forces control large areas of southern and eastern Ukraine. After taking control of the port city MariupolWestern experts say the land corridor from Russia’s western border to the Crimean Peninsula is “almost undivided”.

The British Ministry of Defense estimated that after taking control of Mariupol, Russia will move troops here to other conflict zones in the Donbass region. However, they believe Russian commanders will redeploy forces quickly rather than fully preparing their troops, a process that is time-consuming. “This risks further draining Russian forces,” the UK MoD said.

Russia continued to bombard several targets in Ukraine with rockets and artillery, including 12 command posts, 213 weapon and troop staging areas, 24 battlefield artillery and mortar units, and three ammunition depots in Chuhuiv province Kharkiv. In addition, an Osa-AKM anti-aircraft missile complex and a radar were destroyed at the Ukrainian S-300 complex in Barvenkovo ​​​​in the Kharkov province.

Ukraine did not comment on this information.

Frontline of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine.  Click here for details.

Frontline of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine. Click here for details.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has so far registered that more than 6.4 million Ukrainians fled the country after February 24, when Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported a total of 8,189 civilian casualties in Ukraine, of whom 3,838 died and 4,351 were injured. The agency warned the actual number could be much higher.

Nguyen Tien (Corresponding Reuters, Zvezda)