Ukraine's Counter-Attack in Severodonetsk: The Latest War Update

over the last few weeks Russian forces have focused almost exclusively of capturing what remains of the Luhansk oblast and specifically the cities of severe Donetsk and lysid chansk but as we detailed in our last Ukrainian blog things haven't been going brilliantly for the Russian army on this front so far and that trend continued over the weekend as ukrainian forces staged successful counter-attacks in severa Donetsk and kerzen so in this blog we're taking a look at recent developments what might happen next and whether western unity can hold on long enough so, before we get into the most recent developments a quick update after their early failures in February and march the Russian army has stopped going for speedy mechanized assaults across the entirety of Ukraine and instead has resorted to grinding artillery-led advances focused almost exclusively in tombas in some sense this new strategy does play to Russia's strengths they've got a lot of artillery and the slower pace of advance puts less strain on their substandard logistics operation nonetheless it does mean that the pace of this war has slowed to a trickle with Russian forces making gains of at most a few kilometers a day as such over the last week or so Russian forces have been focused on the towns of severe Donetsk and lisa chansk the two remaining ukrainian holdouts in the luhansk oblast which are separated by a river originally it looked like Russian forces wanted to move north from papasana to cut off supply lines and surround ukrainian forces in the city but this plan was scuppered after the advance from papasna known as popasna flower ended up slowing to a halt last week Russian forces then apparently decided to just go ahead with a full frontal attack with most Russian forces coming from robisny a small town to the north of sevritanesque, that was captured by Russian forces in April originally it looked like this Russian offensive was successful because after a heavy barrage of artillery on Wednesday last week the governor of luhansk stated that Russian forces had taken control of 70 percent of several Donetsk and therefore ukrainian forces retreated into defensive positions in western several Donetsk and lysinsk however the Ukrainian army claimed this was always a part of their plan and that their new defensive positions were better fortified than their old ones but at the time military analysts on Twitter were skeptical and assumed that Russian forces would soon take the entirety of severe Donetsk however unfortunately for Putin this isn't what ended up happening over the weekend ukrainian forces successfully staged a costly counter-attack and on Sunday the Behance governor claimed that ukrainian forces had reversed nearly half of the Russian gains and now controlled about 50 percent of the city then there were conflicting reports that came out on Monday with some suggesting that ukrainian forces had retreated and others suggesting that they were still in control of the city as of Tuesday morning though it looks like the battle for severa Donetsk is still ongoing in purely humanitarian terms though this is a tragedy Russia has apparently resorted to using reservists from its second army cause which suggests that casualties in the city are very high and Zalenski himself has admitted that Ukraine is currently losing about 500 soldiers a day now why is this happening well some of the Russian struggles in several Donetsk are probably attributable to the fact that while artillery might be a good way to make slow but steady progress it also ends up turning a city into rubble which leaves you open to counter-offensives because rubble just doesn't provide the same defensive advantages as a built-up urban environment basically and as you probably would expect it's just harder to take cover in the ruins of a building without a roof than it would have been before it was destroyed but that's not Russia's only issue once ukrainian forces were fighting the Russians in close quarters and around the city the Russians just couldn't rely so heavily on artillery without running the risk of friendly fire the point you're making is that while Russia's new reliance on artillery has its advantages it also has its disadvantages and these were made more than apparent in severe Donetsk okay so we now understand what's happening in severe Donetsk but what happens next well obviously we can't say for sure but it looks likely that Russia will eventually take the city according to reports both sides are now relying on constant artillery and the Russians just have more firepower in this respect nonetheless the fact that the Russian army has struggled so much in severed nets just doesn't bode well for Putin despite its overwhelming advantages in firepower and manpower and its almost myopic focus on Luhansk Russian forces are still struggling to make significant progress and if ukrainian forces can receive further military assistance from the west this could tip the balance of power back in Ukraine's favor especially if it allows them to compete with Russia's artillery Russia will also likely find it difficult to move more forces to support their troops in Luhansk because ukrainian forces are still applying pressure in other areas ukrainian forces apparently staged some minor counter-offensives in kerzen over the weekend and while it's unlikely that Ukraine will retake kerzen in the near future this will nonetheless make it difficult for Russia to move any troops away from Kurzen to support their primary efforts in Luhansk which leads us nicely onto the last part of this blog what can the west do well since our last blog Biden has confirmed that the us will be sending medium-range rocket launcher systems to Ukraine which will be able to strike targets up to 50 kilometers away Putin responded to this by warning the west that if they send any weapon systems with longer ranges as the Ukrainians are currently requesting then Russia will strike quote targets that we have not yet struck which does sound worrying which is probably why not everyone is as enthusiastic as Biden one such concerned party is French president Emmanuel Macron who on Friday provoked ire from ukrainian authorities by suggesting that the west shouldn't quote humiliate Putin essentially implying that the west needs to provide Putin with the diplomatic off-ramp not everyone agrees with this plan though and other European leaders have taken a different attack on Tuesday Estonia's prime minister said that any negotiations with Putin would be premature and urged the west to continue its support for Ukraine so ultimately it increasingly looks like it will be the west who decide the outcome of this war with the war more balanced than ever western military support or lack thereof really could make the difference which makes the growing split between various Nato members even more nail-biting.