Late Wednesday night, the Ukrainians were about to lose control of the small town of Rubizhne in Luhansk Oblast’s Donbas.
Just west of Rubizhne, the Russians are said to have managed to occupy the village of Stara Krasnjanka and the small town of Kreminna in the last 24 hours. In the last five days, there have been fierce fighting in this area without the Russians making much progress.
– The Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine has had a slight movement in the last 24 hours. The Russians have taken parts of the two important cities of Rubizhne and Popasna, writes the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in its latest analysis from Wednesday night.
The city of Popasna is located south of the Ukrainian pocket in the front line. Rubizjne is located north of this pocket. The fact that the Russians have made progress in both places indicates that the attempt to close the pocket is closer to a reality.
It has long been believed that the goal of the Russians in this part of the front has been to surround the Ukrainian forces in the area.
– The attack on the “Sevierodonetsk pocket” may be the start of the general Russian offensive in the Donbas, writes the highly respected military expert who goes by the name Jomini of the West on Twitter.
Ukrainians have now begun to receive heavy arms support from abroad. However, it is uncertain whether these weapons will arrive so quickly that they will play a significant role in this phase of the war. Read more about these weapons here.
The British Ministry of Defense writes in an analysis Thursday morning that the target of the Russian advance is the town of Kramatorsk about 70 kilometers west of Rubizhne.
– The Russians most likely have a desire to point to significant progress on the battlefield ahead of the May 9 marking. This has an impact on how hard they are now pushing, the British write.
The Russian High Command has signaled that the current goal in Ukraine is to secure the entire land belonging to the two counties of Luhansk and Donetsk.
The governor of Luhansk province, Serhiy Hajdaj, announced on Thursday that the Russians now have control over 80 percent of the county. It writes NTB. Of the Donetsk region, about half control the Russians.
It is believed that part of the Russian war plan is to defeat the last resistance in the besieged city of Mariupol. Then Russian forces that have been busy with this task can be released for the fighting further north.
The Russian defense minister claims today, Thursday during a conversation with President Vladimir Putin, that they have taken control of the city. He adds that they can also take the Azovstal steelworks where the last Ukrainian forces are located.
Putin replies that he does not want that. He does not want the steelworks to be stormed, but for it to be surrounded.
The Minister of Defense claims that 1478 Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol have surrendered.
Inside the steelworks yesterday there must have been two thousand Ukrainian soldiers and up to a thousand civilians. It claimed Major Serhiy Volyna who is to be the Ukrainian commander in Mariupol.