The Russian army seeks encirclement in the East; Ukraine: Russians “exhausted”

The war in Ukraine has taken a new deadly turn. A senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Tuesday that “the enemy has begun the active phase of an attack in eastern Ukraine”.

This adviser, Alexey Arestovich, said that the objective of the new Russian army offensive was “to encircle our troops in the region of Izyum”, a medium-sized town currently under Russian occupation.

After Russia’s initial attack failed to capture the Ukrainian capital of kyiv, Colonel General Alexander Rudskoy announced on March 25 that the invading forces would withdraw from the northern regions of Ukraine in order to concentrate their efforts on the “liberation of Donbass”, Ukraine. eastern region.

Despite some initial skepticism from outside observers, including US President Joe Biden, Russia has withdrawn all its ground forces from areas around kyiv and Chernihiv. Several of the units appear to have moved further east, where, according to Arestovich, a major Russian offensive has already begun.

A British Defense Intelligence map shows the situation on the ground.

Arestovich outlined three possible outcomes from the resumption of fighting: “The first is that the Russians, having exhausted all their operational reserves, will carry out tactical actions in order to retain the territory they currently occupy. The second is that they can leave our territory. And the third is that they can resume peace talks.

Russian officials agree that a new phase of the war is beginning, but their analysis of its likely developments differs radically from that of their Ukrainian counterparts.

“We will encircle the Ukrainian soldiers in a pocket in the east,” said Alexander Kazakov, who until 2017 served as a top adviser to the former leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Newsweek. “They can either give up or they can die.”

“After that,” Kazakov added, “the third phase will finally begin: the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.”

Despite the optimism of Moscow-based figures like Kazakov, neutral observers of the conflict are more skeptical of Russia’s chances of making a major breakthrough. Franz-Stefan Gady, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, sees several opportunities for Ukraine to successfully fight back.

“Ukraine will attempt to disrupt Russian ground lines of communication through raids, localized attacks and long-range artillery fire, trailing munitions and possibly airstrikes,” Gady said. Newsweek. “The objective is to disrupt the supply of Russian frontline troops in order to slow their advance and reduce their firepower.”

He said that if Russia’s offensive in the east were to succeed, it would have to show significantly greater logistical skill than its attempts to take kyiv.

“The Russian armed forces still need 400-600 trucks to support their artillery barrages against Ukrainian positions every day,” Gady said. “That said, the Donbass railway network will be a major logistical advantage for the Russians compared to the first phase of the war.”

Much attention has been paid to Ukraine’s continued resistance in the southern port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian marines and Azov Battalion fighters still control the besieged city’s Azovstal steelworks.

Two Russian soldiers patrol in the Mariupol Drama Theater, which was bombed on March 16, in Mariupol on April 12, 2022, This photo was taken during a trip organized by the Russian army. (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The battle there diverted several key tactical groups of the Russian battalion from other fronts. But even if Mariupol falls in the coming days or weeks, Gady is skeptical that it will boost the real fighting strength of the Russian forces.

“Finally capturing Mariupol would be a major propaganda boost for Russia,” Gady said, but he noted that after so many weeks of intense fighting, the units currently occupied there “would be severely under -staff”.

“So I don’t think the release of these forces will have a huge military impact on Russian military operations in Donbass,” he added.


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