Russian offensive likely to culminate when battle for Severodonetsk ends, US think-tank says

29 May, 03:00 PM
Russian tanks carry out assault operations in the area of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk Oblast on May 24, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Russian tanks carry out assault operations in the area of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk Oblast on May 24, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

When the battle for Severodonetsk ends, regardless which side holds the city, the Russian offensive will likely have culminated, giving Ukraine the chance to counterattack and push Russia’s forces back, U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in a report on May 28.

The ISW assessment says that Russian progress around Severdonetsk results largely from the fact that Moscow has concentrated forces, equipment, and materiel drawn from all other axes on this one objective.

It is noted that the Russians are making territorial gains and may succeed in taking the city and areas further west, while the Ukrainian military may well suffer a significant tactical defeat in the coming days if Severodonetsk falls, although such an outcome is by no means certain, and the Russian attacks may well stall again.

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ISW says Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is now hurling men and munitions at the last remaining major population center in that oblast, Severodonetsk, as if taking it would win the war for the Kremlin.

"He is wrong," the experts said.

They point out that the Battle for Severodonetsk is the most serious challenge the Ukrainian military has encountered since the siege of the Azovstal Plant in Mariupol.

"Seizing it will let Moscow declare that it has secured Luhansk Oblast fully, but will give Russia no other significant military or economic benefit.

The analysts also stressed that waning professionalism among Russia's officers could present Ukrainian forces with opportunities. They say Russian morale, already low, may drop further if such behavior is widespread and continues.

"If Russian troops stuck on secondary axes lose their will to fight as the Battle for Severdonetsk consumes much of the available Russian offensive combat power, Ukraine may have a chance to launch significant counteroffensives with good prospects for success," the report says.

According to Ukraine's General Staff, the invaders have used artillery in their attack on Severodonetsk over the past day. Fighting for control of the town is underway.

Previously, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Hayday said that the Russian invaders were shelling the town with all possible weapons, but they had managed to capture only the Mir Hotel on the outskirts of Severodonetsk.

As of May 25, the invaders had captured over 95% of Luhansk Oblast.

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