The Russian advance in the Donbass is slow

Although the Russian military offensive in Ukraine has for weeks focused on the occupation of Donbass and military operations in the east and south of the country, the Russian military has made little progress so far. The resistance of the Ukrainian army proved to be stronger than expected, and in different regions the Russians advanced a few kilometers, without being able to occupy any large city. Moreover, the balance could shift in favor of the Ukrainians with the arrival of the weapons sent by the West, which are now considered imminent.

Various operations that have been talked about for weeks, such as the attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces in Sloviansk, have been effectively blocked, and in some areas, such as Kharkiv to the northeast or Kherson to the southeast, the Ukrainian army is even trying to launch a counterattack, with some success especially in Kharkiv . As the journalist Yaroslav Trofimov wrote about him The Wall Street JournalMore than three weeks after the start of the massive Russian offensive on April 18, which was intended to encircle the best Ukrainian forces in Donbass, the results were limited at best. Many analysts now speak of the situation in eastern Ukraine as an impasse.

The situation is surprising because at this point in the war Russia expected a more decisive advance. Having failed to capture the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the northern part of the country in late March, Russian President Vladimir Putin changed the goal of the war: from occupying all of Ukraine to “liberating” its eastern part, Donbass. The Russian army had mustered its forces in the east in preparation for a major offensive, but three weeks after it began, the results were poor.

This is despite the fact that the Russian army, at least in theory, in the Donbass should have enjoyed significant advantages: shorter supply lines, which should have avoided the logistical problems encountered in the offensive in the north, and a much flatter and barren land, which would have allowed The Russians would have spread their numerical superiority and would have prevented the Ukrainians from striking with ambushes and guerrilla techniques, which had proven effective in the previous months.

Currently, Russia controls a very large part of Ukrainian territory to the east and southeast of the country, but significant progress was made at the beginning of the war, in February, when Ukrainian forces found themselves fighting an invasion. North, East and South. After the first continuous advance, the front moved in a limited manner.

The most anticipated and important maneuver, which Russian forces attempted three weeks ago, is to encircle a large area near Sloviansk, where some of the best and most experienced divisions of the Ukrainian army are fighting. As can be seen from the map below, created by the American Study Center Institute for the Study of War, the goal would be to create an enclave connecting the cities of Izyum and Popasna, both invaded by Russia, and the surrounding fighting Ukrainians. east of this imaginary line.

This encirclement attempt has been talked about for weeks now: the Russians have made some progress, especially in the Luhansk region, but not enough to achieve their goals.

Even in the south of the country, between Mykolaiv (controlled by the Ukrainians) and Kherson (occupied by the Russians), the situation is practically deadlock: the occupation of Mykolaiv is necessary for the Russian forces to continue along the coast to Odessa and cut off access to from Ukraine to the Black Sea, but so far, even In this part of the country, progress is very limited, and already Ukrainian forces are trying to launch a counterattack.

However, the most important counterattack takes place in the north near Kharkiv.

In the early stages of the war, the city, the second most populous in Ukraine, suffered a devastating siege, with ground fighting and extensive artillery bombardment. But over a period of weeks, Ukrainian forces succeeded in holding off the Russians, gradually liberating more and more land around the city. Two objectives: the first is to secure Kharkiv, and to remove Russian artillery to prevent it from striking the city. The second, in perspective, is to advance further east to cut off Russian supply lines, as shown in the map below.

Like The Wall Street JournalIn addition, supplies of Western weapons began to reach the Donbass. In particular, several American M777 howitzers have already arrived, which are retractable rifles capable of hitting targets in an accurate and destructive manner, and also equipped with a greater range than similar Russian guns. It could have a noticeable effect on the battlefield, although it obviously wouldn’t necessarily be decisive.

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