Exactly why Russia has an apparent deadline of taking control of Severodonetsk of June 10 remains a mystery. It’s been put forward as a test for the current general in charge of the illegal, unprovoked invasion, the “Butcher of Syria” Aleksandr Dvornikov, and that date has been mentioned repeatedly by the head of the Russian-allied Luhansk separatists. But whatever June 10 means to Vladimir Putin, it’s soon going to be time to recalibrate, because on the eve of that date, Ukraine shows no sign of going away.
The fighting in Severodonetsk continues to be described as “fierce,” and NASA FIRMS data shows fire all across the area. Except, strangely enough, for those bluffs in Lysychansk that have served as a home for Ukrainian artillery since Ukraine began its counteroffensive on the evening of June 4.
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What’s really odd about this map is almost all the fire is on the other side of the river. This is a clear, dry day in Ukraine. It’s the kind of day where FIRMS is really good at picking up the flashes of artillery impacts and even better at reporting any resulting fires. But the bluffs at Lysychansk are apparently going unmolested.
Back on June 6, as Russia pushed back against the counteroffensive, locations in Lysychansk were getting absolutely pounded by Russian artillery somewhere on the far side of Severodonetsk. But day by day, the numbers of shots falling on the Ukrainian side of the river from guns around Severodonetsk seems to be declining.
On June 8 in particular you can see hits being made in the Russian “backfield,” on the far side of Rubizhne. That continued on Thursday. This likely represents counterbattery fire against Russian positions beyond Severodonetsk. Also on Thursday, most of the fire around Severodonetsk itself is on the north side of the city—the area where Russian forces are reportedly positioned.
All of this seems to indicate that if there’s an artillery battle going on around Severodonetsk, Ukraine is winning.
Because conditions are so good for FIRMS today, here’s another map from the area of Staryi Saltiv, northeast of Kharkiv.
The best guess is that this indicates something of an artillery duel in progress. Ukraine is likely firing at Russian gun positions north of Rubizhne and northeast of Ternova. Russia is firing back at Ukrainian positions along a line south of Rubizhne. What’s interesting here is that the area of activity on the right seems to have expanded again. Though it really not at all clear what’s going on over there near Hontarivka. Conditions are dry, and that is a patch of wood, So this could be simply a forest fire. However, it wasn’t there yesterday, and trees are cover.
If this eastern area is actually Ukrainian fire, here’s a reminder that Ukraine doesn’t have to actually take Vovchansk in the north to break the Russian supply line. Anywhere on the line south will do.
Ukrainian Pravda is reporting that Russian occupation forces and officials are bringing their families to Kherson. “The occupiers’ families make no secret of their admiration for the standard of living in the Kherson region, which, even after more than 100 days of occupation, is many times higher than in their native Russian regions." My advice to them: Don’t get too comfortable.
Otherwise, there were some reports that Ukraine had made significant gains in the Kherson area, including fighting to the south around the eternally besieged Olexsandrivka. But nothing is yet confirmed. Check for updates.
South of Zaporizhzhia, where there have been reports all week that a column of Russian tanks were about to head north, reports are now indicating that many of those forces have dug into position while others are heading off to reinforce Kherson.
East of Izyum, there were reports on Wednesday that Russian forces had crossed the river into Tetyanivka, but speculation that this was no more than a handful of troops appears to be correct. There’s no sign of Russian armor in the town.
In Izyum itself, Russian forces are reportedly building fortifications. For the last three days, the forested area west of the city has been absolutely alight when it comes to FIRMS. How much of this is artillery, how much is forest fires, is hard to tell. But Ukrainian forces have reportedly been very close to the city and Russian forces are anticipating an attack.
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