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86th day of war in Ukraine: Russia steps up its campaign in Donbass

Ukrainian officials said that Russian forces have increased their raids on the city of Sievierodonetsk, seemingly about to launch a major offensive to take complete control of Lugansk province.

Sievierodonetskthe city is located on the east bank of the river Siverskiy Donetsis one of the last positions Ukrainian forces still control in Lugansk province, Donbass region.

Russian forces try to attack Sievierodonetsk and the city Lyshchansk on the opposite side after withdrawing from the area around the capital Kiev and northern Ukraine in April.

Army General Staff Ukraine said Russian forces launched an attack on Sievierodonetsk, but “suffered losses and was forced to withdraw”. Lugansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai announced that Russian forces had doubled the frequency of shelling on the city, but the number of casualties was unknown.

Russia has not commented on the above information of Ukraine.

BM-21 Grad rocket artillery ambushes Ukrainian positions in Lugansk province

BM-21 Grad rocket artillery ambushes Ukrainian positions in Lugansk province in the video released on May 20. Video: Russian Defense Forces.

During a meeting on May 20, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced “the progress of the liberation of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR)”. nearing completionGeneral Shoigu said Ukrainian forces “are trying to delay the advance of the Russian army, not allowing the local population to leave the cities or towns”.

Western military experts assessed that after withdrawing from some other regions of Ukraine, the forces Russia and the separatists stepped up their advance on the front Lugansk. They consider this to be one of the main motivations in their goal of controlling all of the territory claimed by the separatists.

Controlled Lugansk and Donetsk, two provinces in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, will allow Russia to “declare victory”, according to some experts. Russia announced in April that this was the target of the second phase of its special military operation in Ukraine.

Russian forces are assessed to have “reached an important step” towards their goal of controlling the Donbass region this week, after the iron and steel plant Azovstal, Ukraine’s last defensive stronghold at Mariupol, fell. Ukraine ordered the garrison here to stop resisting to preserve the lives of soldiers.

General Shoigu said 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal plant laid down their weapons and surrendered, while the Russian army continued to surround the facility. However, the commander of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic (DPR) said that no Azov battalion commander has left the Azovstal factory.

Ukrainian soldiers in Azovstal received orders to cease resistance

Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal factory on May 19. Video: Russian Defense Forces.

Russian forces are controlling large areas of southern and eastern Ukraine. After taking control of the port city Mariupolthe land corridor from Russia’s western border to the Crimean peninsula is “almost undivided”, Western experts say.

The British Ministry of Defense assessed that after taking control of Mariupol, Russia will redeploy forces here to other areas of conflict in the Donbass region. However, they believe that Russian commanders will redeploy forces quickly rather than fully prepare their troops, a process that is time-consuming. “This risks further draining Russian forces,” the British Ministry of Defense said.

Russia continued to bombard multiple targets in Ukraine with rockets and artillery, including 12 command posts, 213 weapons and troops gathering areas, 24 artillery and mortar units in the battlefield and three ammunition depots. in Chuhuiv, province Kharkiv. In addition, an Osa-AKM anti-aircraft missile complex and a radar in the Ukrainian S-300 complex in Barvenkovo, Kharkov province were destroyed.

Ukraine has not commented on this information.

Frontline of the Eastern Ukraine battlefield.  Click to see details.

Frontline of the Eastern Ukraine battlefield. Click to see details.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has so far recorded more than 6.4 million Ukrainians leaving the country after February 24, when Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported a total of 8,189 civilian casualties in Ukraine, of which 3,838 died and 4,351 were injured. The agency warned the actual number could be much higher.

Nguyen Tien (According to Reuters, Zvezda)

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