Up to 50 Russian battalion tactical groups fight in Donbas – analysis

20 May, 05:54 PM
Russia attacked ten settlements in the Donetsk region in one day (Photo:National Police of Ukraine)

Russia attacked ten settlements in the Donetsk region in one day (Photo:National Police of Ukraine)

About half of Russia’s total invasion force in Ukraine, or around 50 battalion tactical groups, may be concentrated in northern Donbas, according to foreign assessments, Dragon Capital reported in a daily update on May 20.

Operating along the Izyum-Sievierodonetsk-Bakhmut triangle, Russian forces pushed against Ukrainian defenses on the outskirts of Sievierodonetsk but were repelled, the Ukrainian military said.

The Luhansk regional governor reported chaotic Russian shelling throughout Sievierodonetsk for all day yesterday, with at least a dozen civilians killed and over 40 injured.

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To the south of Sievierodonetsk, around Popasna, Russian forces continued to advance simultaneously in the northern, western, and southern directions, claiming new limited gains. 

The Ukrainian General Staff said this morning fighting was ongoing near the villages of Volodymyrivka and Vasylivka, several kilometers from the main road between Sievierodonetsk/Lysychansk and Bakhmut.

A map of hostilities in Donbas (Фото: Ukraine war map)
A map of hostilities in Donbas / Фото: Ukraine war map

Further south, around the city of Donetsk (the Avdiyivka and Kurakhove directions), Russian offensives were also repelled, while there were no active Russian operations on the Izyum-Slovyansk and Lyman-Slovyansk axes, according to the Ukrainian military.

Overall, the pattern of fighting along the Donbas front remains unchanged in that Russian forces continue to make small territorial gains, taking advantage of their numerical and hardware superiority but being steadily exhausted by the Ukrainian defense. 

There was more criticism of the Russian offensive strategy on Russian social media.

“The war of attrition in Donbas is continuing, and the strategic impasse for the Russian army (while the Ukrainian army is buying time) is becoming more pronounced,” Igor Strelkov (Girkin), a former FSB officer who orchestrated much of pro-Russian unrest in Donbas in 2014, wrote on his Telegram channel.

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