Ukraine Pushing Back in Donbas, Retaking Territory in Severodonetsk – The Ukrainian military has been conducting counterattacks in the city of Severodonetsk and once again controls about half of the city. Constant, bloody assaults by Russian forces had resulted in its troops and proxies from the separatist-held areas controlling about 70 percent of the city. But Ukraine has now retaken about 20 percent of that area.
Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk region military administration was asked about an intelligence assessment by the British Ministry of Defense that said that Russian military forces would gain total control of the Luhansk Oblast within the next two weeks.
“Two weeks is unrealistic. It’s just unreal,” Haidai said. “Earlier there was a difficult situation, and somewhere around 70 percent [of Severodonetsk] was captured, now we have already moved them back somewhere around 20 percent,” he added.
“They are moving forward step-by-step. They are simply destroying everything with artillery, aircraft, mortars, and tanks. As soon as we have enough Western long-range weapons, we will push their artillery away from our positions. And then, believe me, the Russian infantry, they will just run,” he said in a televised address.
Russian Forces Blowing Up Bridges To Slow Ukrainian Advance:
In an intriguing turn of events, the Russian military is now blowing up bridges across the Seversky Donets River. This is meant to slow Ukrainian forces trying to resupply its troops and bringing in humanitarian supplies to Severodonetsk in the Donbas as well as to stem the flow of reinforcements heading into the region as Kyiv tries to take back lost territory.
At the outset of the invasion by Russia in late February, it was the Ukrainians blowing bridges as they slowed and then stopped Russian attempts to take the capital city of Kyiv and Kharkiv.
“They are really afraid that the success of our defenders will develop, and this can be done if the ammunition, weapons, and reinforcements are provided in time. This is the first thing they are afraid of,” Haidai said. “Luhansk region is a huge outpost for us, we are holding it now.”
Haidai said that Ukrainian forces threw back nine separate attacks on the city in just the past 24 hours. The Russians continue to try to encircle the defenders in the city, but all attempts to do so have been unsuccessful.
Haidai added that the Russian military is “throwing all their reserves at Severodonetsk”, he and the humanitarian situation is difficult as it is “impossible to deliver food and medicine to the city”. He claimed that Ukrainian forces had destroyed a tank, eight armored vehicles, and one artillery piece, as well as shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and a cruise missile.
The Donbas Is Ukraine’s Industrial Heartland:
The Donbas area that the Russian forces are trying to take is tied to the separatist-held areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. The Donbas is the heart of Ukraine’s industrial heartland. And the two cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk on opposite banks of the Seversky Donets River are the final two cities held by Ukraine in the Luhansk Oblast.
Severodonetsk was taken briefly by Russian-proxy separatists in 2014 but was quickly recaptured by Ukrainian troops. It is the home of the very large Azot Chemical Plant that produces nitrogen-based fertilizers. It is also the site of at least 800 civilians, who are sheltering in place to escape the Russian shelling and bombing. There has been concern that Russian shelling could set off any of the remaining chemicals.
Lysychansk was home prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s second-largest oil refinery capable of refining 16 million tons of oil each year. Back on May 8, Russian attacks on the refinery damaged production facilities, Serhiy Haidai reported on his Telegram channel app.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 10 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.