In their latest intelligence update, published on Tuesday, the UK analysts wrote: “Russia’s relatively rapid capture of Lysychansk extends its control across virtually all of the territory of Luhansk Oblast, allowing it to claim substantive progress against the policy objective it presented as the immediate purpose of the war, namely ‘liberating’ the Donbas.”
The industrial Donbas region in eastern Ukraine is made up of the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts.
Better coordination between Russian forces
The UK Ministry of Defence added: “Unlike in previous phases of the war, Russia has probably achieved reasonably effective coordination between at least two Groupings of Forces, the Central Grouping likely commanded by General-Colonel Alexandr Lapin and the Southern Grouping probably under the recently appointed General Sergei Surovikin.”
Ukrainian units withdraw 'in line with existing plans'
The UK analysts also noted that “Ukrainian forces have largely withdrawn in good order, in line with existing plans.”
Moreover, while the Ukrainian-held "areas of Severodonetsk-Lysychansk consisted of a bulge or salient which Russians could attack from three sides,” there is a realistic possibility that “Ukrainian forces will now be able to fall back to a more readily defendable, straightened front line,” the British Ministry of Defence said.
'Russia’s massed employment of artillery'
Overall, the UK analysts said the battle for the industrial Donbas region had been “characterised by slow rates of advance and Russia’s massed employment of artillery, levelling towns and cities in the process.”
They added: “The fighting in Donetsk Oblast will almost certainly continue in this manner.”
Putin orders 'operational pause'?
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday celebrated the capture of the Luhansk Oblast and “appeared to direct the Russian military to conduct an operational pause,” according to the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
In its latest analysis of the Ukraine war, published on Tuesday, the ISW noted that Putin “stated that the Russian units that participated in the battle for Lysychansk should rest to increase their combat capabilities.”
According to the think tank, “Russian troops that fought through Severodonetsk and Lysychansk very likely do need a significant period in which to rest and refit before resuming large-scale offensive operations.”
However, it is not clear that “the Russian military will accept the risks of a long enough operational pause to allow these likely exhausted forces to regain their strength,” the ISW wrote.
Kremlin criticised by former military commander
The ISW also reported that former Russian military commander Igor Girkin, “an ardent Russian nationalist who commanded militants during the 2014 war in Donbas,” has strongly criticised the Kremlin’s handling of the war on his Telegram channel.
Girkin “questioned the significance of the seizure of Lysychansk” and “suggested that Russian forces had paid too high a price for a limited gain,” the think tank wrote.
According to the ISW, “Girkin’s statements directly undermine the Kremlin’s efforts to frame Lysychansk as a significant victory or turning point and show that the disillusionment amongst ultra-nationalist elements in the Russian information space continues to run deep.”
Ukraine targets Russian military infrastructure deep in occupied territory
The US analysts also noted that “Ukrainian forces are increasingly targeting Russian military infrastructure with indirect fire and US-provided HIMARS systems deep in occupied territory.”
In recent days, Ukraine reportedly struck Russian ammunition depots in Dibrivne, Kharkiv Oblast, close to the frontline, and Snizhne, Donetsk Oblast, some 75 km from the frontlines, the ISW noted.
According to the US analysts, “the increased ability of Ukrainian forces to target critical Russian military facilities with Western-provided HIMARS demonstrates how Western military aid provides Ukraine with new and necessary military capabilities.”
Fighting resumes in Donetsk region
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on Tuesday that fighting had resumed in the eastern Donetsk region, with Russian forces attacking near Spirne and Novoluhanske.
In its latest operational update, Ukraine’s military command wrote: “With the support of artillery fire and aviation, the aggressor resumed assaults in the direction of the settlement of Spirne, with partial success, the hostilities continue.”
Meanwhile, in the Slovyansk direction, “the enemy carried out artillery fire in the vicinity of Krasnopilla, Pervomaiske, Nova Mykolaivka, Bohorodychne, Adamivka, Dolyna, Mazanka, Dibrivne, Chepil and Mospanove,” Ukraine’s General Staff said.
It added: “Ukrainian soldiers successfully repulsed the enemy's attack in the direction of Dolyna settlement. The occupiers were repelled.”
Elsewhere, Russian forces shelled settlements in the northeastern Sumy Oblast and the northern Chernihiv Oblast, as well as in the southern Mykolaiv and Kherson Oblasts, Ukraine’s military command reported.
It stressed that “Ukrainian aviation and missile and artillery units continue to strike enemy warehouses and invaders' concentrations, in particular in the Kherson region.”
Russian troops 'demoralised'
Ukraine’s General Staff said that Russian troops “are demoralised and look for any opportunity to receive minor injuries.”
“They resort to self-mutilation and various simulations of ill health. Only to return alive to the Russian Federation,” Ukraine’s military command wrote.
Tuesday is day 132 of of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: PAP, understandingwar.org, facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua