Here is the map showing the situation in the Seversk area of the Donbas. It is bad news for Ukraine:
Russia is closing the cauldron and Ukrainian troops are making desperate attempts to flee to Siversk. Russia has fire control over the roads and Ukrainians who try to escape on those roads face annihilation. The Russian Minister of Defense reported that 6000 Ukrainian troops are captive (no breakdown re how many have been nabbed from the Lysychansk operation). Not an inconsequential number.
It is important to note that Russia took care not to destroy the Lysychansk oil refinery, which reportedly was a main supply of fuel to the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas. Loss of that site means that Ukraine will have to find an alternative source of fuel. This means longer lines of resupply just to keep Ukrainian military vehicles still in the region fueled and operational. Not an easy task.
Although many western analysts stick doggedly to their tale that Russia is taking a beating and that Russia is too weak to oust the Ukrainian forces, the reality is otherwise. Russia continues to consolidate its control over the Donbas. In contrast to the Alamo stand of Ukraine’s AZOV battalion in Mariupol, Ukrainian troops are not complying with NATO’s wish that they fight to the last Ukrainian. Instead, they are fleeing west as best they can, running a gauntlet of Russian artillery and air strikes. It looks like the next main target for Russia in this part of the Donbas will be Siversk.
The only piece of land Ukraine has “retaken” is Snake Island. Not clear yet if Ukraine’s military leaders have decided to put a force on the island, but God help them if they do. Russia’s withdrawal, despite the Russian Minister of Defense’s claim that this move was to counter Ukraine’s excuses for not exporting grain through the Black Sea, was simply a cost/benefit decision.
Resupplying Snake Island was a logistical waste. Russia could have continued to funnel ammunition and missiles needed to operate air defense systems on the island. But that is a costly investment of resources for a rock that only has symbolic importance in the eyes of the Ukrainians. It is easier and cheaper for the Russians to hit the floating rock with its missiles. Any Ukrainian deployed on that small terrain will be a sitting duck. It has zero strategic value for Russia’s task of demilitarizing the Donbas.
To underscore this point, here is the Russian Minister of Defense’s briefing on attacking Ukrainian military sites inside and outside the Donbas:
High-precision attacks launched by Russian Aerospace Forces have destroyed 2 command posts, 5 munitions depots near Ivano-Daryevka, Seversk (Donetsk People’s Republic), Belogorovka (Lugansk People’s Republic), Nikolayev, Lepetikha (Nikolayev region), as well as AFU manpower and military equipment in 26 areas.
Within the counter-battery warfare, high-precision attacks launched by Russian Aerospace Forces have neutralised 2 MRLS plattoons and 2 artillery plattoons near Lesovka, Selidovo and Netaylovo that had been shelling the settlements of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Operational-tactical and army aviation, missile troops and artillery have neutralised: 32 AFU command posts, 1 radar designed for detecting air targets near Katranka (Odessa region), 3 munitions depots near Spornoye (Donetsk People’s Republic), as well as manpower and military equipment in 297 areas.
Russia has adopted an AT&T strategy–Reach out, Reach out and touch someone:
Instead of hugs, Russia is sending hypersonic missiles. Not the kind of greeting the Ukrainians are excited to receive.