Battle of Donbass: Will decide the outcome of the entire war between Russia and Ukraine
Faces of Ukrainian soldiers on their march in the east of the country on April 19 – Photo: REUTERS
Which side’s army achieves good form in the fastest time can shape the second phase of the war
Mr. Mathieu Boulègue, senior research expert at Chatham House Foundation
“The Russian army has begun the battle for Donbasswhere they have been preparing for a long time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. “A significant force of the Russian military is concentrating on this attack.” The importance of this battle, because it can determine the outcome of the entire war.
The Great Battle From Later World War 2
Earlier, Ukrainian media reported on a series of explosions in the frontline area in Donbass, eastern Ukraine, from Marinka, Sloviansk to Kramatorsk. Several attacks also occurred in the northeastern city of Kharkov, the northern Mykolaiv and the southern Zaporizhzhia. “The second phase of the war has begun,” said Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff.
Ukraine’s senior security official, Oleksiy Danilov, believes that Russia wants to break through Ukraine’s defenses along the Donbass and Kharkov regions. According to a report by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russia’s goal is to completely control the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which are controlled by the separatists in the Donbass region, and to protect the places it controls.
On April 19, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Russia had started a new phase of its military operation in Ukraine. “Another phase of the operation has begun, and I’m sure this will be a very important moment in this whole special operation,” Lavrov told India Today.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also stated that Russia wanted to “liberate” eastern Ukraine and accused the West of prolonging the conflict by supplying Kiev with weapons. On the same day, Russia announced that it had carried out dozens of airstrikes in Ukraine overnight. Tass news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that 1,260 military targets of Ukraine were attacked, obliterating 25 command posts.
In the latest statement, Mr. Zelensky continued to assert that Ukraine will resist to the end. “No matter how many troops Russia sends there, we will resist. We will fight,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Since more than a week ago, when Kiev and the West assumed that Russia was massing troops into eastern Ukraine, Zelensky and his team acknowledged it would be an uphill battle. “The battle in Donbass will be reminiscent of World War II,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba once said, estimating thousands of tanks, armored vehicles and aircraft. Meanwhile, Western media called this the biggest battle in Europe since World War 2.
If Mr. Zelensky’s government can hold the line in the Donbass, it will almost halt the Russian military campaign and give Ukraine more time to consolidate its forces. On the contrary, if the Russian side succeeds, they will capture or destroy a large part of the Ukrainian forces and easily capture Kharkov, Odessa or even return to the capital Kiev.
On April 18, Russia captured the city of Kreminna on the front lines of eastern Ukraine and continued the siege of Mariupol. With control of this important port city, Russia could connect to the Crimean peninsula and open the way for its other combat battalions to join the fight in the Donbass.
According to observers, to avoid being penetrated when advancing from Mariupol to the north, Russia can encircle the entire Donbass. In preparation for battle, Russia attacked Ukraine’s supply lines in the east and the capital Kiev to intercept food, fuel and ammunition shipments in order to weaken Ukraine’s ability to counterattack.
Analysts believe that Russia’s advantage in the battle of Donbass is to focus on only one front with favorable terrain and close to the Russian border, reducing logistical difficulties as before. However, Russia will also face about 40,000 Ukrainian troops here. Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Zelensky, said that Russia is deploying the operation in the Donbass cautiously and trying to find “sensitive points” in the defense system of Ukraine.
“Their attack will fail, I assure you 99%, simply because they do not have enough strength… The advantage in this battle is not in favor of Russia,” he told AFP news agency. .
According to analysts, despite receiving abundant military support from the West, Ukraine will face great difficulties in the Donbass. Kiev’s greatest opportunity is to keep its tactical reserves and counter-attack capability to avoid the danger of encirclement.
Source: CNN, Flight International, Statista – Graphics: T.DAT
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