In the past two days, the Russians advanced into several villages south of Lysychansk, albeit not without incurring losses from Ukrainian artillery fire. Indeed, the Ukrainian military claims that some groups of Russian tactical battalions are being consolidated or withdrawn to restore their combat capabilities.
The settlements that Ukrainian officials confirmed were lost on Wednesday are located on the western bank of the Seversky Donets River, 10 kilometers from the southern outskirts of the city.
“The Russians are approaching Lyschansk, and are holed up in neighboring towns. The city is being bombarded with planes,” said Serhiy Heidi, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration.
Heidi admitted that it was “difficult” in the area south of Lysekhansk. “The enemy entered Toshkivka, which allowed him to set fire to other settlements.”
He said that Russian troops were entrenched in several villages immediately to the south of Lyschansk, including Ustinevka, Bidelsen and Myrna Dolina, and were advancing at Bjela Hora. “It is not easy for our soldiers to maintain the defense,” he admitted.
During its campaign, Russia used extensive bombing tactics before attempting to gain territory. Heidi’s comments suggest that the Ukrainian defenses around Lysichansk are beginning to succumb to much greater Russian firepower, after weeks of bombing.
Ukrainian troops continue to fight on the outskirts of the neighboring city of Severodonetsk, and in neighboring communities – and take advantage of the Lyschansk highlands.
But already breached supply lines are becoming more fragile, and the sheer size of Russia’s firepower is shattering defensive positions.
The attacks near Lysichansk are being carried out in conjunction with renewed Russian efforts to cut off the highway that runs west to Bakhmut, an important communications line for Ukrainians. In some places, Russian troops are located a few kilometers from the highway.
The Ukrainian defense of Severodonetsk and Lisichansk exhausted the firepower of many Russian units and weakened their efforts to advance in the neighboring Donetsk region. However, the Russians can still claim reserves are held in areas close to southwestern Russia – while some of Ukraine’s best units have been seriously depleted by months of rocket, missile, artillery and air attacks.
But if the Ukrainians decide to drill around Lysichansk, it will likely take significant Russian efforts, perhaps over a period of weeks, to absorb it. By that time, it may resemble the partially flattened cities of Severodonetsk, and nearby Popasna and Mariupol.
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