At some points in the war, it’s been not only possible, but sensible, to doubt reports from either side, especially when they have sounded too rosy. Russia has repeatedly made claims or even shown videos that were absolutely at odds with the reports of those on the ground—that includes happy-happy-joy-joy videos showing smiling people in the areas occupied by Russia going about their day in cities unscarred by weeks of pounding artillery. There’s absolutely no doubt that Ukraine has also applied spin to the public information it releases, in part to protect troops in the field, and in part to move the news needle in ways that make it more likely to receive the support required to survive the invasion.
But when it comes to what’s happening in Severodonetsk, there’s not much doubt about what’s happening. As kos has pointed out, that’s because from the town of Lysychansk, just across the river, it’s possible to look down into the streets of Severeodonetsk. That means not just that Ukrainian soldiers in those streets are able to guide artillery to very precise locations, it also means that observers have a ringside view to what — according to some of those gathered — has been Russia’s worst loss since the war began.
On Thursday, Russia had taken 80% of Severodonetsk. Pro-Russian sources were bragging that the city had already fallen, and Chechen baddie Kadyrov’s forces put out their second video in which they pretended to be walking around in a peacefully captured Severodonetsk, surrounded by adoring fans. Then on Friday, Ukraine began a counterattack that seemed to quickly retake about 20% of the city. Even then, Russian media outlets insisted that Ukraine was simply wasting the effort. Ukraine was, it said, “sending in foreign mercenaries because it had no other troops to send,” and even those mercenaries were “suffering 90% losses” as Russia took what remained of the town.
Except by Saturday, Ukraine again controlled at least 50% of Severodonetsk. And at the end of the day on Sunday, that number appears to be more like 70%.
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Meanwhile, in the area near Izyum, Russia reportedly captured Dovhen'ke on Saturday, but subsequent reports indicate that Ukrainian forces there once again repelled an attack. Instead, Russian forces shifted to the southwest, attacking down the road toward Barvinkove, but getting stopped just east of the village of Virnopillya.
Further to the east, Russia had more success, finally taking the town of Studenok, along with two other villages on the east side of the river. Ukrainian troops have reportedly either moved back from another pair of villages, and may be preparing to relocated across the river at Svyatohirske, which would essentially cede the north bank of the river in that area. Ukraine still has control of bridges and the ability to withdraw in good order. So far, Russia doesn’t appear to have made a crossing in the area west of Severodonetsk.
At the far end of the area on the map, Russia has apparently surrounded the town of Komyshuvakha, a few kilometers north of Popasna, which Ukraine snatched back over a week ago. At the moment, there still seem to be some Ukrainian forces in the town, and Russia has been repulsed on several previous attempts, but this time is looking tough.
In the Kherson area, Russia has reportedly rushed more forces into Davydiv Brid, but Ukraine doesn’t actually appear to be trying to actively take the town. Instead, they’re guarding against Russian forces moving down from that direction and steadily widening the bridgehead around their pontoon bridge about 4km to the south. Russia reportedly made two attempts to take back Vysokopillya at the northern point of this area, but both were repelled.
At the far end of the line, Ukraine is continuing to press the counteroffensive that has recaptured several villages west of the Siverskyi Donets in the last two days. However, Sunday once again saw a repeat of some odd artillery activity in the low-lying area directly across the river from Rubizhne. This came late on Sunday, at the same time that Russian channels on Telegram were indicating a new Russian offensive in the area. This is the third time this same area has been hammered by artillery. The first time corresponded with Ukrainian forces moving north and attempting to capture the arear around the bridge (the bridge itself is down). The second time came as Ukrainian forces had reportedly crossed the river both at Rubizhne and Staryi Saltiv and were reporting to be moving north. The third time is over the last two days when there has been fire directed here, and also across the bridge by Startsya farther to the north. And it means … ???
One of Dimitri’s latest translations helps to explain why few DPR and LPR infantry units are being mentioned in recent news.
“...both the People’s Militia of LPR, and the People’s Militia of DPR, if we consider their composition as of Feb. 24, most of them died in the first weeks, if not days, of the war.” … “Poor training, poor equipment, shoddy supply and the shoddy quality of most of the imported “advisors,” has systematically reduced the combat readiness of the troops...”
The % control game continues to swing widely. Russia has claimed to have 90% again, or even that Ukraine has fled. Meanwhile heavy fighting continues.
Ozerne may be the only town still held by Ukraine north of the river.