120th day of hostilities: Ukraine may have to withdraw from the city of Lysychansk

The Lugansk governor said Ukrainian forces may have to withdraw from Lysychansk to avoid encirclement, after Russia captured two villages near the strategic city.

“In order to avoid encirclement, our command can order the withdrawal of troops to new positions. All Lysychansk are within range of enemy fire. Staying in the city would be very dangerous,” Lugansk Governor Sergiy Gaidai said today on national television.

The comments came after Russian forces took control of two villages south of the city of Lysychansk. The remaining territory between the Lugansk and Donetsk provinces controlled by the Ukrainian army has been significantly reduced as the forces of the Ukrainian army. Russia continuously attacked from three sides, taking advantage of artillery firepower.

Ukraine’s military almost never shares strategic details, but Chief of the General Staff Valery Zaluzhny admits Ukraine is making defensive adjustments.

“We were forced to exercise defensive maneuvers to gain more advantageous lines and positions,” Zaluzhny posted on social media. “The price of freedom is very high.”

120th day of hostilities: Ukraine may have to withdraw from the city of Lysychansk

Russian forces shelled near the city of Lysychansk, Lugansk province, eastern Ukraine, in a video released on June 23. Video: RIA Novosti.

Oleksii Hromov, deputy director of the Operations Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said that the situation in Severodonetsk, the city opposite Lysychansk across the Donets River, “difficult” but “stable”. “The fighting continues,” he said.

“Our servicemen have all kinds of weapons and are supported by artillery units, but unfortunately, the enemy has the advantage in firepower. Russia has enough artillery systems, ammunition, and concentrated attacks. stamped, but our soldiers skillfully maneuvered between fortified positions,” he added.

He acknowledged that Russian forces had destroyed Ukrainian supply routes into the city, but said the military had found alternative ways to move ammunition in and get the wounded out.

Ukrainian officials say that the country currently controls 45% of the province’s territory Donetskwhile the remaining 55% is under the control of Russian forces.

“It is difficult to say that the rest (including cities, territories in Donetsk region) is controlled by the enemy, because these cities are being destroyed,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Ukrainian army in the Donetsk region. , said today.

Kyrylenko also spoke about the concentration of battalion-level combat groups in Sloviansk and Lyman. According to him, Ukrainian forces have “tough battles ahead”, while Russia continues shelling along the Bakhmut – Lysychansk highway to “cut off” the supply of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov announced that the country had received the US-aided M142 HIMARS high-mobile rocket launcher. HIMARS is supposed to give Ukrainian forces the ability to strike further into the Russian line and at a distance better protected from Russian long-range weapons.

“HIMARS has arrived in Ukraine. Summer will be very hot for the Russians and also the last summer for many of them,” Ukraine’s Defense Minister tweeted.

The M142 HIMARS high mobility rocket artillery system, a medium-range artillery model that uses precision-guided warheads, is said to be an important weapon that the Ukrainian leaders have asked for US aid to stop the force’s advance. Russia on fierce fronts in the Donbass region like Severodonetsk.

Amid fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called for strengthening the joint defense capabilities between Russia and Belarus.

“The circumstances show the need to take urgent joint measures to strengthen the defense of the Confederacy, the combat readiness of the military groups and the unified air defense system in the region. region,” he said during a meeting with Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin in Moscow.

Shoigu also called Belarus Russia’s “best friend”.

Ukrainian soldiers watch the army's tanks move on the streets of Lysychansk on June 19.  Photo: Reuters.

Ukrainian soldiers watch the army’s tanks move on the streets of Lysychansk on June 19. Image: Reuters.

The Biden administration is expected to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine today, according to an unnamed US official. This support package is expected to include the highly mobile M142 HIMAR rocket system and artillery shells, worth about 500 million USD.

The White House has not confirmed this information, but has repeatedly stated that the US will continue to regularly provide security assistance to Ukraine. Previously, the US gave Ukraine an increase of $ 5.6 billion since Russia started a special military operation at the end of February.

According to US officials, Russian forces are learning from mistakes in the early stages of the military campaign, as they accelerate their advance in the east.

“Russian forces are gaining an advantage in eastern Ukraine as they learn from mistakes made in the early stages, including better coordinating air and ground attacks, and improving supply lines and logistics,” said two US officials with knowledge of domestic intelligence assessments.

The United States does not expect the weapons systems it has just supplied to Ukraine to change the battlefield immediately because these weapons are currently being sent limited in both scope and quantity. In addition, Russian forces were able to destroy several new Western-supplied weapons, including the M777 howitzer.

U.S. officials believe that Russia plans to keep up its ferocious attacks in the east, characterized by heavy artillery and missile attacks, with the intention of gradually weakening Ukrainian forces and their resolve. NATO. Russia’s advances have been evident in recent days after Ukrainian forces’ defense of Lysychansk became much more fragile.

10,465 civilian casualties, of which 4,662 were killed in the fighting in Ukraine, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says more than 8 million people have left Ukraine since the conflict broke out, while more than 7 million people inside the country have been displaced.

The advance of the Russian forces in the Lugansk province.  Graphics: NY Times.

The advance of the Russian forces in the Lugansk province. Graphics: NY Times.

Huyen Le (Theo CNN, Guardian, AFP)

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