Note: The following overview does not claim to be complete. It is undoubtedly lagging behind the actual development of events and will certainly be inaccurate in some respects. A number of claims by the warring parties can only be confirmed with a delay, if at all. Sources are linked by clicking in the text.
The events of the last few days indicate that neither of the warring parties has enough men and equipment to fully occupy the entire front. Strengthening in one part leads to weakening of other parts of the queue. As has been the case in recent weeks, in the case of Russia the limiting factor is the lack of infantry, in the case of Ukraine the lack of heavy equipment.
Overall, the situation at the front did not change fundamentally. The bloody war of attrition still continues. Russian troops are pushing mainly in the Donbas area, specifically around the town of Bakhmut. So far, Ukrainian counterattacks are very slowly cutting off the Russian bridgehead around the city of Izjum.
Ukraine concentrates the most powerful artillery weapons, especially the HIMARS systems, on the southern front around the city of Kherson. The Russian army is also moving large reinforcements to this part of the front. At the same time, its command did not wait for the long-discussed Ukrainian offensive and launched its own attacks in the area.
War in maps
Russia has withdrawn part of its troops from the Donbas, and therefore will probably not have enough forces to occupy the city of Slovyansk. This creates an opportunity for Ukrainians. In this way, however, Russia is strengthening its defenses in the south against the announced Ukrainian counter-offensive.
After a short overview, we will quickly “walk” the entire front line from the northern tip to the southern tip right at Kherson.
From Kiev to Bakhmut
There was mainly shelling from both sides. Direct combat took place only at the level of small units, and these were usually small tactical operations of little importance to the outcome of the war.
According to some observers, in the rear of this part of the front, Moscow is gathering fresh troops for the next strike towards Kiev. So far, however, their presence at the front is unknown.
Relative calm reigned even on the bridgehead near the town of Izjum. Attacks from the Russian side have significantly decreased, which the Ukrainians are using to gradually regain part of the lost territory.
The front line did not move significantly, only by units of kilometers. Since Russian attacks in this area have not been very successful recently, this means that the front has returned in some places to the position it was in about two months ago.
It does not mean that there is actually any major Ukrainian offensive going on. It seems to be more of a symptom of the weakness of the Russian troops in this area. Some of them, probably the best units, were apparently sent to other parts of the front.
“Russia should not exist in the size it currently has because it cannot cooperate with the civilized world. They cannot live with their neighbors. In my opinion, Russia should be separated from the civilized world.” (Excerpt from Seznam Správ interview with Mamuka Mamulashvili, commander of the Georgian Legion.)
Further south-easterly between the Ukrainian Siversk and the occupied Lysyčansk, mainly artillery battles and shelling took place. Apparently, the Russian command has at least postponed the attempts to attack in this area, they are concentrating their forces for fighting a little further south, around the town of Bakhmut.
A few kilometers north of Bakhmut, Russian forces fought their way to the edge of Soledar. But here they found themselves in a rather disadvantageous position on the grounds of the Knauf factory on the outskirts of the city.
More intense attacks took place south of the city, where Russian troops gradually pushed Ukrainian defenders out of their positions in recent weeks.
Ukrainian troops are still holding on in the village of Kodema, but they are practically surrounded on three sides. It is quite likely that soon the defenders will withdraw behind the Bakhmutovka river, which flows from Bakhmut directly to the south.
Donetsk and surroundings
Last week, Russian troops managed to advance slightly in the area near the village of Pisky near Donetsk. The advance was minimal in geographical terms, the interesting thing about it was that it took place in places where the Ukrainian defense had successfully resisted since the beginning of the war. The Russian troops penetrated the first and apparently also the second line of Ukrainian trenches and probably occupied almost the entire village, perhaps with the exception of the northwestern part of the village.
The reason was probably the relative weakness of Ukrainian artillery in the area. According to unofficial information, the Ukrainian command moved part of the artillery units from the area mainly to the southern part of the front, to Kherson. Which suggests that Russia doesn’t have enough men to occupy and hold the line at Izjum, while Ukraine doesn’t have enough heavy weapons to sufficiently cover all sections of the front if it wants to concentrate more guns on some parts of the front to gain an advantage over the enemy.
Thus, Russian cannons and rocket launchers were able to operate in this area for several days last week without much concern for their own safety: that is, without fear that Ukrainian drones or artillery radars would detect their position and then be hit by Ukrainian battery fire. The heavy fire killed and wounded so many defenders that they could no longer hold the line.
Kyiv called reinforcements into the area, including additional artillery, and thus the Russian advance was halted. We will see if the new position of the defenders will be as strong as the previous one and also how many forces the Russian troops have left to attack.
However, if the invading troops break through Pisky, they risk encircling the key defensive point, the industrial city of Avdiivka, in which the defenders have a very strong position. Ukrainian troops would then probably have to retreat from their advantageous and long-prepared positions further west. We do not even dare to guess whether the defense will last or not, and possibly when.
The next section of the front, which we refer to as Zaproža after the largest city in the area, was relatively calm. Fighting is going on there, soldiers and civilians are dying, but neither the clashes nor the shelling have reached the intensity of, for example, the Bachmut front.
However, practically all observers are anxiously watching the developments around Kherson. The Russian command moved a large amount of equipment and men to the area. This is on the order of thousands of men, quite probably over 10 thousand men – certainly on paper.
In reality, however, we do not know exactly how many soldiers the Russian units actually have. A number of data indicate that in most of them there are significantly fewer teams than there should be according to the tables. In any case, it is about hundreds of pieces of heavy combat equipment, they count better.
Kyiv claims it will defeat Russia if it gets more heavy weapons. Ukraine’s allies are reaching deeper and deeper into their reserves, but they are far from covering demand. Why don’t they just make guns? It would take too long.
Ukrainians movements of Russian troops and their supply they disturb with the help of artillery, mainly HIMARS and M270 systems. Only a few bridges lead to the Kherson battlefield, three over the Don, and one important one over the Inhulec river. These are obvious “bottlenecks”. If the bridges could be destroyed, the Russian troops would have to survive on a very meager diet on a large section of the front.
This is already happening to some extent – and not only in Kherson. The Russian army had to change logistics because of the new Ukrainian weapons, and the new system is apparently not as powerful as the previous one. Due to this, Russia’s artillery superiority is apparently somewhat smaller, on the other hand, the example of the attack near the village of Pisky indicates that Russian artillery is definitely not toothless.
It is still an open question to what extent the Russian troops will actually succeed in “starving” near Kherson. Pro-Ukrainian sources claim that the supply is significant disturbed already today, the pro-Russians deny or downplay it.
In any case, the Russian artillery in the area obviously still has ammunition. Even in the northern region of the Kherson battlefield, Russian troops are carrying out attacks from the town of Snihurivka in the western direction to the city of Mykolayiv. The effort seems to have met with no success so far, but the attempt does suggest that the invading troops in the Kherson region are still capable of more than just defense.
Of course, the situation can change very quickly: either there is fuel or ammunition, or there is not. Events can therefore take such a rapid turn as in the case of the Russian retreat from Kiev or the Ukrainian retreat from Lysychansk. As last time, we can only conclude by stating that the Russian command has been strengthening Kherson in recent days. Apparently, they do not see the chances of their units in this area unfavorably. Whether he is wrong or not remains to be seen.