RRussia is stepping up efforts to make progress in the Ukraine war. The Duma voted on Wednesday to pass a law that would allow older women and men to enlist in the Russian armed forces. So far, the maximum age was 40 years. In the future, any volunteer who has not yet reached the statutory retirement age can join the army. The reason given was that the army needed “highly professional specialists” to operate precision weapons. In fact, the high losses suffered by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine during the first three months of the war may play a role.
Meanwhile, the situation of the Ukrainian armed forces in the Donbass is apparently becoming more precarious in the face of massive attacks by Russian soldiers. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Russian troops were continuously bombing the industrial city of Sieverodonetsk in eastern Ukraine. The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Gajday, previously wrote on Telegram that Russian soldiers were trying to completely destroy the city. In addition, they tried to break through the defense lines with attacks from different directions. Severodonetsk is the anchor point of the last stretch of Luhansk Oblast still held by Ukrainian troops.
In its most recent analysis of the war on Tuesday evening, the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assumed that the Russian army’s main focus was now on encircling the area around Sieverodonetsk and encircling the defenders there. Similar attempts are being made on other smaller sections of the front arc. On the other hand, the Russian military has apparently abandoned the goal of a large pocket on the axis towards Slovjansk/Kramatorsk, which would also include large parts of Donetsk Oblast.
The exact extent of the Russian effort cannot be determined. However, according to ISW estimates, in order to successfully complete the offensive in the east of the country, Russia has concentrated a significant number of troops, artillery and aircraft from other sectors of the front in Luhansk Oblast. Reserves would be withdrawn from the areas around Kharkiv, Izyum, Donetsk and Zaporizhia. The American television channel ABC, citing Zelenskyy’s spokesman Serhiy Nikiforov, reported that the balance of power in parts of eastern Ukraine was now 7 to 1 in favor of the Russian attackers.
Whether the Russian forces will succeed in encircling the industrial city in the coming days remains to be seen. The ISW writes that the speed with which the Russian side is gaining ground has increased in the past week. However, the pace remains slow. So far, no major breakthrough has been seen.
#War #Ukraine #Russia #changing #strategy #Donbass