The Russian invaders have failed to encircle Ukrainian fighters in Donbas, while the Armed Forces of Ukraine are launching a counteroffensive in some areas.
NV explains this major Ukrainian counteroffensive and the main failures of the Russian assault.
Major counteroffensive no earlier than mid-June
Presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said in early May that a major counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine was possible no earlier than mid-June.
"A counterattack is possible with the accumulation of a large number of Western weapons, which will be enough for at least a few brigades, fully armed, trained and coordinated," he said on Ukrainian national television.
"After that it will be possible to advance. In terms of delivery, I wouldn't even say that it is possible before mid-June. Most likely, it is the second half of June-July."
According to Arestovych, the first weapons of this type will be delivered in late May to early June.
Retired U.S. General Ben Hodges, in an interview with U.S. cable news channel CNN on May 9, said that "the Russians are close to culminating (their assault) already.”
"I think we're going to see a culmination by the Russians, a transition to a counter offensive by Ukraine, and they are going to get Russia back to the 2023 February line, I think, candidly, by the end of summer," Hodges said.
Ukrainian Army's limited counterattacks
However, smaller-scale counterattacks by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are already taking place.
On May 14, Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov announced a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces near Izyum.
“The area around Izyum remains a major hotspot,” he said.
“Our armed forces are counterattacking there. In some directions, enemy troops are in retreat.”
At the same time, Syniehubov urged residents of recently liberated settlements not to come back.
"It's still too dangerous! In their retreat, the enemy has mined and booby-trapped everything they could – courtyards, groves, roadsides, even children's beds," he added.
On May 5, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valeriy Zaluzhny, announced a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv and Izyum directions.
On May 15, the 227th regiment of the 127th brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine ousted the Russian invaders and advanced to a section of the state border in Kharkiv Oblast.
A U.S. senior defense official at a briefing on May 16 said that 155 mm M777 howitzers, delivered to Ukraine as part of U.S. military aid, would allow the Armed Forces of Ukraine to step up its counteroffensive.
In particular, he reiterated that the Ukrainian military had regained several Russian-occupied settlements in the Donbas.
On May 16, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said that the Russian invaders had to retreat while storming the Hirske territorial community in Luhansk Oblast.
According to Haidai, the invaders were also repulsed near the village of Syrotyne near the town of Sievierodonetsk.
"The losses of the enemy are numerous," the governor stressed.
According to a Pentagon spokesman, the Ukrainian forces have greatly benefits from just this shipment of U.S. weapons, saying that ”now (the Ukrainians) are pushing the Russians out but to the east and to the north, and we do believe that the howitzers in particular are having an impact on that, particularly in Kharkiv."
In turn, Sumy Governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy stressed that the invaders were shelling Sumy Oblast along almost the entire 500-kilometer state border with Russia. He expressed the belief that only a counterattack on the territory of Russia could protect people from the risk of being killed or shot by artillery, although Ukraine has no plans to fight on the territory of another state.
"It's clear that it's necessary to attack the Russians on their territory, which is not entirely in line with Ukraine's defense plans," he said in an interview with Radio NV.
"We are a peaceful state, and have never fought on the territory of other states, but I think that the top military leadership will take appropriate decisions to protect our citizens from the risk of being killed or shot by artillery at home, in Sumy Oblast, 10-20 kilometers from the border."
Russia's recent failures
Back in late April, Kirill Mikhailov, an analyst from the open-source military analysis group Conflict Intelligence Team, said that invading Russian forces continue their slow offensive in eastern Ukraine, but they will be unable to encircle Ukrainian troops.
"Many analysts say that the Russian offensive is underway on the eastern front, with some success, but it is very slow," he told Radio NV.
"Ukrainians are skillfully maintaining their defenses, skillfully withdrawing from some positions and holding on to the last. For example, (Russian terrorist Igor Girkin, nom de guerre) Strelkov concludes that the large encirclement expected by the Russians will not take place."
Mikhailov stressed that it will take Russia several months to seize the Donbas. At this rate, but Ukraine will launch a counteroffensive during this time.
"In the best case scenario for Russia, Ukrainian troops will be driven out of the Donbas in a few months, but not encircled, not destroyed," Mikhailov said.
"During this time, using the Lend-Lease (program), Ukraine will be able to prepare new units and carry out powerful counterattacks."
On May 17, Ukrainian military expert Serhiy Hrabskyi told Radio NV that it was already a fact that the Russian invaders had failed to encircle Ukrainian forces in the Donbas.
"We will see the same phenomenon, these desperate attempts for a few more days,” said Hrabskyi, commenting on the invaders' attempts to advance in Sievierodonetsk.
“But I hope that the enemy offensive impulse will weaken since it's impossible to carry out attacks within a month without any success, or having a success that is offset by the losses suffered by the enemy."
He stressed that Russian troops not only fail to encircle Ukrainian forces in the Donbas, but also "fail to achieve the minimum goal today — to encircle our troops in the areas of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, despite desperate attempts to advance in anydirection."