Day 581: A Comprehensive Look at the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Examining the Ongoing Conflict
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine persists, now in its 581st day. The Ukrainian armed forces have reported significant gains in key areas around four towns in the Bachmut direction, located in the eastern part of the country. This information was communicated by Ilya Yevlash, the spokesperson for the Eastern Group of Armed Forces of Ukraine, who stated, “On the southern flank, we are continuing the offensive operation. Among other things, we have successes near the towns of Zaitseve, Klischiivka, Odradiwka, and Ivanivske. There, our defenders are pushing back the enemy.”
This statement underscores the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian forces in the face of a protracted conflict. It also marks a significant point in the ongoing military operations, indicating a potential shift in power dynamics.
Counteroffensive Successes: Analysis and Implications
Despite the slow pace of progress, the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has confirmed that Ukrainian forces have been operating armoured vehicles beyond the Russian anti-tank ditch and dragon’s teeth obstacles for the first time. This has occurred just west of Verbove, suggesting that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is gaining momentum. Since June, Ukraine has reportedly retaken 253 square kilometres (approximately 98 square miles) of its territory.
However, the counteroffensive slowed down visibly during the 72nd week of the war due to entrenched Russian defences. As a response, NATO allies pledged more heavy weaponry for the fight. Despite these battlefield difficulties, Ukrainian forces have continued to push forward, seizing approximately 4 square kilometres (roughly 1.8 square miles) over the previous week around the eastern city of Bakhmut. This brings the total territory Ukraine claims to have recaptured since June 4 to 162 square kilometres (approximately 63 square miles).
The ISW, however, provides a slightly different assessment, estimating the recaptured territory to be closer to 253 square kilometres (98 square miles). This indicates that in just five weeks, Ukrainian forces have liberated nearly the same amount of territory that Russian forces captured in over six months.
Shifting Power Dynamics and Russian Morale
The territorial gains around Bakhmut seem to be particularly significant, with Ukrainian forces managing to capture key heights over the city. This strategic advantage allows their artillery to reach Russian positions within the city itself. These advances coincide with reports of a disorderly retreat of Russian units in Klishchiivka, highlighting issues of poor morale and overwhelming Ukrainian bombardment.
These circumstances forced Russia’s 83rd Airborne Assault Brigade to retreat on foot without an evacuation plan. Russian draftees in another unit at Klishchiivka, the 142nd Regiment, reportedly refused to fight after suffering heavy losses under Ukrainian fire and being sent into combat without ammunition. Some of these refuseniks were allegedly being held in a pit. Russian morale has been a contentious issue elsewhere on the front as well.
The Southern Front: Ukrainian Advances and Challenges
On the southern front, Ukrainian troops have advanced approximately 8.6 kilometres (around 4 miles) during the five weeks of the counteroffensive. Two main prongs of the attack in this region aim to liberate the ports of Berdyansk and Melitopol in Zaporizhia. However, Russian defences in this area have proven to be especially strong, slowing the advance.
The Ukrainian general staff’s report on these advances and the challenges encountered underscores the ongoing difficulties of the counteroffensive. However, the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian forces remain apparent, painting a picture of a conflict that is far from over but showing signs of potential shifts in power dynamics.
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