It’s been nearly two months since Russian forces began their assault on the city of Severodonetsk. But despite overwhelming firepower, they still can’t dislodge determined Ukrainian resistance — nor cut the supply lines that provide the city’s remaining defenders with a drip-feed of weapons and ammunition.
The fierce Ukrainian defense of Severodonetsk, despite heavy losses, has forced the Russians to concentrate firepower on a relatively small area and held up their efforts to seize the 10% of Luhansk region they still do not control.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the seizure of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions as one of the objectives of Moscow’s special military operation that began in February. For now, that operation is largely stalled; a large part of Donetsk remains beyond the Russians’ reach.
Russian forces are making modest gains — the Russian Defense Ministry said Sunday that the town of Metelkino just southeast of Severodonetsk had been taken. But the Russians’ goal of encircling the Ukrainian troops defending the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk still appears some way off.
In a campaign lacking agility and imagination, the Russians have resorted to one principal tactic: overwhelming indirect fire against any and all Ukrainian positions, regardless of the collateral destruction.
The aim is to leave nothing standing that can be defended. The use of troops on the ground to take and hold urban areas has been less frequent and less successful.