On Tuesday, the situation in Severodonetsk continues to be volatile, but the latest reports have the city more or less split down the center. Ukrainian forces control the industrial area on the west, as well as outlying villages and the southern edge of the city near the bridge to Lysychansk. Russia is positioned in the northern area and fighting with Ukrainian forces in the east. Both sides continue to go at it hammer and tongs on a street-by-street level, and neither is holding back the artillery. A report in The Guardian indicates that Russian efforts were “redoubled” following the Ukrainian counterattack. It’s ugly.
The neighboring city of Lysychansk, a few kilometers south of Severodonetsk, was being “totally destroyed”, he added. “Russian shelling has intensified significantly over the past 24 hours. They are using scorched earth tactics,” he said, adding that a school and market had been hit, and a college building flattened.
Ukraine can keep fighting in Severodonetsk as long as those guns in Lysychansk can support their positions. So there’s little doubt Russian artillery is focused on tanking down those guns.
Meanwhile, just a few miles to the west, Russian forces are reportedly gathering for what’s expected to be a big push on the city of Slovyansk.
Preparatory to making another attempt to cross the Siverskyi Donets, following the earlier disaster near Bilohorivka, Russia is attempting to capture the final Ukrainian-held positions on the north bank of the river. For months, Ukraine was able to hold a significant position on the northern side of the river, but the fall of Oskil two weeks ago removed a critical lynchpin. Since then, Russia has closed up the “pocket” of Ukrainian control that remained east of Izyum, a campaign that concluded in the last two days with the capture of Studenok. Together with the capture of the large town of Lyman, this freed Russian forces to go after the remaining riverside villages and towns.
As of Tuesday, fighting was still reported in Sviatohirsk and at long dug-in Ozerne. There are no confirmations, but Russia has likely occupied Yarova, where Ukrainian forces reportedly withdrew. Some reports also suggest that Russia has taken the village of Shchurove, across the river from Raihorodok.
This drone footage, from a Russian source, not only shows the beautiful old monastery at Sviatohirsk but also gives a good idea of the terrain around the river. The bridge in this video doesn’t seem to have been intentionally dropped, but is damaged by artillery. It may still have been passable at the time of the video.
A Russian pontoon bridging team was reportedly moving west from Rubizhne on Monday, searching for a new crossing location. When they do, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be within spitting distance of the place where Russia already failed to cross three times. That’s because, at many locations in this area, the south side of the river is overlooked by an area of steep hills or bluffs. That would make any bridging operation an easy target for Ukrainian artillery, and subject any units that did cross to withering fire as they attempted to expand the bridgehead.
At Kherson, reports have been all over the place. In the last 12 hours, there have been Russian reports that all Ukrainian forces east of the Inhulets River had been eliminated and that Russia had made its own cross to the other side. Additional reports indicate that Ukraine is knocking on the door of the city with forces heading in from multiple directions. Neither of these is likely to be true.
From the Ukrainian side in particular there have been a lot of reports of significant progress, with forces said to be “driving for Nova Kakhovka,” which is across the bridge north of Kherson. However, that bridge is a good 40km from the last known position of Ukrainian forces, and there are a good dozen towns and villages in between, none of which has turned up in these reports as changing hands in the last few hours. This makes it seem like all these reports are more aspirational—“we’re ready to go for Nova Kakhova!”—rather than a literal “We’re on our way to Nova Kakhova!”
Mostly the news out of Kherson can be described with the word “frustrating.” Official sources are being even quieter about action on this front than they were about movements around Kharkiv a month ago. As always, they are under absolutely zero obligation to divulge any action to the public, especially when it might place soldiers or civilians at risk. It’s just … it would be nice to know.
One thing we do know is that the Ukrainian Air Force has engaged in air strikes in the Kherson area over the last day. That’s good news in the sense that Russia doesn’t have anything like air superiority in the region. According to the Ukrainian MOD general staff:
“Ukrainian helicopters have attacked groupings of enemy forces in Kherson Oblast. … Planes have conducted an airstrike on ammunition depots in Mykolaiv Oblast. The enemy has lost over 20 personnel and 10 pieces of military equipment.” One of those depots being taken out was featured in the last update.
As soon as I get more information, or confirmation, about what’s happening in Kherson, I am more than ready to put down a lot of new blue markers.
Tractors may be able to tow away Russian tanks, but they are, unfortunately, not mine proof. Farming is already one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet (even in the U.S.). This is a hazard they definitely do not need.
A good thread from translator Dmitri.