The British Defense Ministry reported that the Russian forces had likely captured the eastern city of Severodonetsk after several months of heavy fighting. This comes after the Ukrainian forces were ordered to retreat from their positions. 

The Institute for the Study of War has stated that the Russian forces will continue consolidating their positions within Severodonetsk, Syrotyne, Voronove, and Borivske. They also confirmed that the Russians would extend into Lysychansk and Bakhmut along the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway, where pro-Russian sources have claimed that Russian forces have captured the route.

Activity in Donetsk seems to be sparse at the moment since it is not the main focus of the Russian advance. However, intelligence states that the Russian forces continue to engage in small-scale positional battles in Donetsk City near Kostyantinivka and Niu York. However, Ukrainian forces have said that no wide-scale attacks are happening in these areas and that the Russians remain repelled.

Several reports also confirm that the Russian forces are trying to advance around the Kharkiv area, conducting limited and unsuccessful attacks in northeastern Kharkiv. They also continue ground assaults in the Izyum area. However, there are still no real successes from the Russians.

Lysychansk is expected to fall into Russian hands in a few weeks. This means that the Russian forces will completely control the Luhansk region. However, despite this incoming victory for the Russians, it does not mean they can take the entirety of Donetsk, as the Ukrainians still have two-fifths of it in their hands. Being a far larger province than Luhansk, Donetsk will be more difficult to capture. In addition, the Russians may not have enough men, ammunition, and morale to keep fighting, as their losses are 34,850 men.

Areas of Severodonetsk rumored to be the Azot Chemical Plant being bombed (Serhiy Hayday). Source:
Areas of Severodonetsk rumored to be the Azot Chemical Plant being bombed (Serhiy Hayday). Source:

A Temporary Win?

“Most Ukrainian forces have likely withdrawn from their remaining defensive positions in the Donbas city of Sieverodonetsk,” they stated in a tweet. “Russia’s capture of the city is a significant achievement within this reduced objective. The settlement was a major industrial centre and it occupies a strategic position on the Siverskyi Donets River.”

The city’s mayor, Oleksandr Striuk, confirmed the Russian occupation of their town by announcing that “The Russians have fully occupied the city.”

“They are trying to establish their own order; as far as I know, they have appointed some kind of commandant,” Striuk continued.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai stated that it would’ve been hopeless to station Ukrainian forces within Severodonesk since they would likely encounter a similar situation as that of Mariupol and the Azovstal Iron and Steelworks Plant.

“Keeping positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there doesn’t make sense,” he said.

A highway in Severodonetsk severely damaged by Russian shelling in the area (Serhiy Hayday). Source:
A highway in Severodonetsk was severely damaged by Russian shelling (Serhiy Hayday). Source: Serhey Heyday


The Ukrainian troops that retreated were repositioned to other defensive positions as preparation for the incoming Russian push, notably from the Russian 2nd Army Corps, which has been backed up by the Russian National Guard (the Rosgvardia).

Military analysts have said that while Severodonetsk is a victory of the Russian forces, it is also largely “symbolic” and “minor.” This is because the Ukrainian troops have held the city long enough for the Russian forces to be depleted in terms of morale and munitions. In addition, analysts said that the Russian forces do not have enough men and supplies to push further beyond what they have already captured. While they can certainly try to do this, they will probably encounter bolstered Ukrainian defenses now that several western-donated weapons have arrived in Kyiv.

“It’s a minor loss, there’s still Lysychansk [the neighboring town controlled by Ukraine], and Severodonetsk has largely served its purpose,” Former deputy chief of Ukraine’s General Staff of Armed Forces Ihor Romanenko said to Al Jazeera.

“There is a geopolitical component for Russians, it’s a district centre in the unoccupied part of Luhansk. But we will live through it, we are more interested in the military aspect,” he continued.

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“The loss of Severodonetsk is a loss for Ukraine in the sense that any terrain captured by Russian forces is a loss – but the battle of Severodonetsk will not be a decisive Russian victory,” said the Institute for the Study of War.

Currently, the Russians are continuing their attacks in an attempt to capture Lysychansk. They are pushing some small-scale encounters outside the southern portion of Lysychansk, towards the Lysychansk Gelatin Plant, Bila Hora, and Privillya (northwest of Lysychansk). In addition, pro-Russian officials have stated on Telegram channels that “street fighting” is currently occurring within Lysychansk. However, we could not verify these reports as of this time. Furthermore, Euractive stated that pro-Russian fighters and Russian troops had entered Lysychansk – the only city that stands in the Russians’ way from capturing Luhansk entirely.

SOFREP will monitor the situation in Lysychansk as the fighting rages on in eastern Ukraine.