The city of Severodonetsk has been taken by Russian forces with the exception of holdouts in the Azot chemical fertilizer plant. That’s according to the Ukrainian head of the Luhansk Oblast administration, Serhii Haidai.
After pushing through the towns of Toshkivka and Myrna Dolyna, Russian forces are moving to surround from the south and west Severodonetsk’s twin city, Lysychansk, on the opposite side of the Donets River.
The main line of communication between the transport hub of Bakhmut in the west and Lysychansk in the east has been cut by Russian troops and rendered impassable.
Russian air force strikes on a shipbuilding plant in the Ukrainian port of Mikolaiv in the South killed as many as 500 troops of the Ukrainian 59th Mechanized Brigade on Tuesday, the Russian defense ministry claimed during its daily press briefing on Wednesday. There is independent verification of the strikes but not of the claimed casualty numbers.
The disruption of critical supplies by rail from Russia to its exclave of Kaliningrad through EU and NATO member Lithuania has been termed a “blockade” by Russia. The head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, said, “Of course, Russia will respond to hostile actions. Appropriate measures are in the works, and will be adopted in the near future.”
On a strategic scale, President Putin announced that Russia had “successfully tested the Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile. According to the plan, the first such system will enter combat duty at the end of the year,”
The Sarmat was test-fired in April.
After Russian forces pushed through Toshivka and took a line of small towns (Ustynivka, Pidlisne, Myrna Dolyna) that run from the Donets river westward towards the main road from Bahkmut, they have pressed farther north and are moving into Bila Hora, a town on the outskirts of Lysychansk. Fighting continued in Borivske and around Voronove, south of Severodonetsk on the east side of the Donets.
Further west, south of Izium the Russian drive on Slovyansk is making no significant progress as Russian assaults on several small towns were repulsed.
Fighting for terrain north, northeast and east of Kharkiv is stepping up. Fighting was reported in the town of Yuchenkove, located about 50 kilometers northeast of Kharkiv.
This indicates penetration of the Russian lines by Ukrainian forces and a direct threat to a major Russian line of control for operations in eastern Ukraine.
Artillery strikes on Kharkiv and suburbs continued.
The UGS reports that fighting continues north-east of Kherson and that the Russians have pushed the Ukrainian forces back across the Inhulets River and regained possession of the east bank.
Artillery strikes continue across much of the line of contact, from Mykolaiv through Zaporizhzhia, and Donetsk.
After a slow gain and near-standstill over the previous two weeks, Russian forces appear to have decisively gained the upper hand in the Severodonetsk/Lysychansk battle.
With the loss of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk now seems to be falling more quickly than had been expected.
The war of attrition, in both materiel and manpower terms, that the Russians have chosen to adopt favors them over Ukrainian forces. Unless the Ukrainians can regain some mobility, they will be ground down – much in line with the announced Russian war aim of destroying Ukrainian military assets and capabilities.
That’s the reality. But as a US military intelligence observer notes, “in the meantime, there remains the cognitive dissonance from the [Western] reporting: The Russians are suffering from poor leadership, bad morale and poor weapons and the Ukrainians have superior weapons, superior leadership, off-the-scale morale and the home-field advantage. Yet the Russians are, at least for now, winning.”
Politics and finance
The Russian ruble, declared rubble by the US President months ago, is at its strongest against the US dollar in seven years, trading at the June 2015 level.
On the political side, Clement Beaune, French minister of state for European affairs, speaking of entry of Ukraine into the EU prior to the June 23/24 EU meeting, said: “There is no expedited procedure, there is no King’s Pass.… They need to finish the war first, to rebuild the country, to meet all the democratic and economic requirements. This will take time. But we are giving this signal of openness.”
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