Ukrainian Forces Could Quit Donbas Pocket To Avoid Encirclement, Official Says, As Russians Make Advances

Ukrainian forces may need to withdraw from Syevyerodonetsk, one of the two main cities in the last remaining pocket of resistance in the east that Russian forces are close to surrounding, an official there warned, as Britain said Moscow was in acute need of a victory in the Donbas region as political justification for the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the current situation in Donbas “very difficult.”

“Russian forces have concentrated their efforts in the Donbas, using maximum artillery fire and missile strikes as Ukrainian forces protect our land in the way that our current defense resources allow,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

Russian troops seeking to regain momentum in the three-month-long war have been pressing a rapid advance in the Luhansk region with a focus on the cities of Syevyerodonetsk and Lysychansk.

The relentless and indiscriminate Russian artillery fire has destroyed Syevyerodonetsk almost completely and killed hundreds of civilians, officials there said.

Serhiy Hayday, the governor of Luhansk, said on May 28 that he estimates there are some 10,000 Russian troops in the region and that Russians are already in parts of Syevyerodonetsk.

“It is possible that in order not to be surrounded, they (Ukrainians) will have to leave,” Hayday said the previous night.

Syevyerodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said that at least 1,500 people have been killed in his city since the start of Russia’s invasion in late February. About 12,000 to 13,000 remain in the city — down from a prewar population of about 100,000, he said.

The British Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on May 28 that Russian forces had likely captured most of Lyman, a railway hub west of Syevyerodonetsk, in what appears to be a preliminary operation for the next stage of Russia’s offensive.

Ukraine said Russians had captured most of Lyman but that its forces were blocking their advance to the southwest.

The British intelligence report estimated that Russia is likely to prioritize forcing a crossing of the Siverskiy Donets River that separates Syevyerodonetsk from it twin city, Lysychansk.

Moscow has made seizing the whole eastern Donbas region a key objective of the invasion after being pushed back from Kyiv.

In its bulletin, Britain assessed that “if Russia did succeed in taking over these areas, it would highly likely be seen by the Kremlin as a substantive political achievement and be portrayed to the Russian people as justifying the invasion.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on May 27 that Ukraine needed long-range multiple-launch rocket systems to repel the Russian onslaught.

“I’m afraid that Putin, at great cost to himself and to the Russian military, is continuing to chew through ground in Donbas,” he told Bloomberg. “He’s continuing to make gradual, slow, but I’m afraid palpable, progress and therefore it is absolutely vital that we continue to support the Ukrainians militarily.”

Ukraine is pleading for a long-range weapons system to halt the Russian advance, but Washington has so far not offered one.

On the diplomatic front, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed a possible prisoner swap and blocked shipments of Ukrainian grain during a phone call on May 27.

Nehammer, who spoke to reporters after the 45-minute call, said Putin told him that Moscow is ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Ukraine but the question is complex. The Austrian leader said his impression during the call was that Putin wants to create facts on the ground that he can take into negotiations.

Zelenskiy said earlier that he must hold talks with Putin in order to safeguard Ukraine’s sovereignty and existence.

Zelenskiy also accused Russia, which has said it would allow Ukraine to resume its grain exports by sea if the West lifts some sanctions imposed on it for starting the war, of weaponizing the global food supply crisis.

The last known face-to-face talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators were held on March 29. Negotiations continued online for a while, but both sides now say they have stopped.

According to a Kremlin statement, Putin informed Nehammer about actions that Russia is taking to secure safe passage for vessels in the Azov and Black seas.

Putin told Nehammer that attempts to blame Russia for difficulties shipping grain worldwide were unfounded and pointed to Western sanctions being responsible instead, according to the Kremlin.

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-forces-donbas-russian-advances/31872600.html

10 comments

  1. “Ukrainian forces may need to withdraw from Syevyerodonetsk, one of the two main cities in the last remaining pocket of resistance in the east that Russian forces are close to surrounding, an official there warned”

    Ukraine don’t need another Mariupol. Retreat while you can, and save the lives of the soldiers. They can’t fight in the future if they are dead. These guys will be of more use alive, if these MLRS ever arrive.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “I’m afraid that Putin, at great cost to himself and to the Russian military, is continuing to chew through ground in Donbas,”

    I agree. The costs for the cockroach army (and mafia land in general) are high, and the lost cockroach troops and equipment will be missing when it’s Ukraine’s turn to mount an offensive.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I think Ukraine needs to pull away from the pocket and shorten their lines. Once the weapons are in hand and units have been trained up, they can retake the ground Putin’s thugs are raping.

    Liked by 2 people

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