Military analysts have been saying for days that Russian forces have “paused” their offensive operations in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine. But try telling Ukrainian soldiers under fire and entrenched in defensive positions in towns and villages about this.
Skirmishes took place in at least 10 locations in the Donetsk region as the Russians tried to improve their positions along the fragmented front line, apparently to what is expected, according to Ukrainian authorities on Friday. much larger military push capture parts of the province that they do not control.
“The occupiers tried to take control of the section of the road” that runs between the cities of Bakhmut and Lysychansk, the Ukrainian General Staff said in an evening bulletin that lists many clashes. Russian forces also carried out “assault operations” in several other locations, including the villages of Nagorny and Belogorovka, the bulletin said. “Ukrainian soldiers with fire stopped all these pathetic attempts of the enemy and threw him back.”
Elsewhere in the region, the bulletin talked about how Ukrainian soldiers “again successfully repelled” the assault, and elsewhere it said: “Under the fire of Ukrainian soldiers, the remnants of the enemy forces retreated.” There were no immediate comments on the hostilities from Moscow.
Donbass, which is close to the Russian border and was a region of heavy industry, mining and agriculture, has been the focus of President Vladimir Putin’s campaign in Ukraine as Russian troops failed to capture the country’s two most important cities, Kyiv, the capital and Kharkiv in the beginning of the conflict. Donbass consists of Lugansk and Donetsk regions.
Michael Kofman, Director of Russian Studies at the CNA Research Institute in Arlington, Virginia, said this week that “this is a very temporary reprieve; it’s not exactly an operational pause.” Speaking of podcast “War on the Rocks”, he said that Russian forces were still trying to press, “not very successfully,” on fortified Ukrainian positions around city of Slavyansk.
He said that the next Russian offensive would likely target that town and another further south, Kramatorsk, and that the fight for the Donetsk region could drag on for months. He and other analysts, including Western intelligence officials, stressed that both Russia and Ukraine had suffered heavy losses and faced serious staffing problems.
This week, U.S. officials and others familiar with intelligence estimates estimated that around 20,000 Russians were killed and about 60,000 wounded. Russia tried to recruit more soldiers with large cash bonus offers for volunteersUkrainians from separatist territories, mercenaries and paramilitary units of the National Guard.
Ukraine is also losing a significant number of soldiers: in June, a senior government official said the country was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers daily.
The military is also facing equipment shortages. Nearly a third of Russian hardware has been destroyed, according to Western officials, although the Kremlin retains a significant lead in heavy weaponry.
This has prompted Ukrainian officials to repeatedly plead with the West for more heavy weapons and ammunition, saying they need supplies to counter Russia’s long-range advantage. This was announced on Friday by Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov. welcomed arrival of the first M270 multiple launch rocket systeman armored vehicle that is her most advanced artillery rocket launcher.
mr. Reznikov said the weapon would “make good company” for US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS. USA delivered eight and promised four more truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers. The Ukrainian military says they are using the arrivals to strike Russian bases and warehouses behind the front lines.
However, some analysts say Ukraine needs dozens more to effectively counter Russian artillery, and Ukrainian officials say they need up to 300 multiple launch rocket systems.