Can Moscow Slow Down The Ukrainian Offensive to Luhansk?

Published September 17th, 2022 - 05:03 GMT
Ukraine army moves forward
Ukrainian soldiers on top of an Ukrainian armoured fighting vehicle are pictured on a road in the countryside of Siversk, in Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine, on July 8, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

* By Dr Rene Tebel

In just five days, the Ukrainian army destroyed Russian hopes of gradually advancing its front toward Slowyansk and Kramatorsk to capture these last two major cities in Ukraine's Donetsk oblast. In a surprising attack executed with incredible speed, the Ukrainian army managed to catch the Russian defenders off guard and make them completely abandon the front between Kharkov and the Oskil Reservoir lake. While this retreat was partially orderly in northern Kharkov, there are reports from Balakliya and other areas of Russian soldiers fleeing into the woods and simply leaving their equipment behind.

Through an article by the special war correspondent of KP.RU, Alexander Kots, we get an idea of how the Ukrainian offensive forces, estimated at 5 brigades, proceeded: Thus, the first attack wave broke through the front and bypassed the Russian defenses without engaging in house-to-house fighting, while the second attack wave took over this part - if the Russian formations had not already retreated for fear of being encircled. 

The all-dominant question now, however, is what Ukraine will do with its success: Will it secure the conquered territories or will it seize the moment and push even further toward Luhansk? 

It should not be forgotten that Russia cannot throw its troops against the Ukrainian attackers on the basis of military logic, but must in any case build new lines of defense in the hinterland. This front can be the bank of the Oskil. However, this is not certain: already on September 10th Ukrainian soldiers in a force of two BTGs and separate armored troops crossed the Severskyi Donets River near Staryi Karavan to attack Krasny Liman. So far, the 208th Cossack Regiment, BARS -16 (Boevoy Armeyskiy Rezerv Strany) Regiment KUBAN and militiamen of the LNR ("VR Luhansk") have been able to withstand the attacks. However, if the Ukrainian units capture Krasny Liman, the victorious Ukrainians could march east to Kreminna near Lysychansk or against Svatove to the north.

There, the Russian army is hurriedly trying to establish a defensive line to prevent a Ukrainian advance on the territory of the "Luhansk People's Republic" from the north. That the situation is very difficult, also admitted militia officer Andrey Marochko on Rossiya 1 TV channel on Wednesday: "The situation is really difficult, in some parts of the area the line of contact has come very close to the borders of the Luhansk People's Republic and is already about 10 kilometers from the line of contact. This is a very short distance for military operations,”  he is quoted as saying by Russian Pravda.

In addition to Krasny Liman, the Ukrainian army also set its sights on Bohorodychne, which it has controlled since Monday. Neighboring Sviatohirsk may also have been recaptured. But here the information is still contradictory. 

According to unverifiable reports, Ukrainian counterattacks are taking place from Izyum to Studenok on the oblast border of Kharkiv and Donetsk and from Siversk to Verkhnokamyanske and Bilhorivka on the border of the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, already in the immediate vicinity of Lysychansk.

Thus, Ukrainian troops are likely to take advantage of the moment to sound out the weak points in the provisional Russian defenses.

If these unconfirmed reports are true, Ukrainian units would already be behind the new Russian front and could advance deeper into the poorly protected Luhansk hinterland - a horror scenario for Russian forces.

*The author is the Editor of the Tebel Report in Austria. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Al Bawaba News. 


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