Over the past four days, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have reinforced the besieged city of Severodonetsk where thousands of Ukrainian fighters are still holding out in the southeast part of the city near the industrial zone, specifically in the Azot Chemical Plant. A large portion of the Ukrainian Foreign Legion was sent to reinforce the city. However, cryptic posts by the Ukrainian General Staff and Russian state owned media indicate that the counterattack has failed and Russian forces have regained much of the city.
The ambassador to Russian from the Luhansk Peoples Republic told TASS today that “all escape routes” from the Azot Chemical Plant have been cut off. Rodion Miroshnik said:
“Ukrainian militants at Azot are looking for contacts for negotiations. A small group of [Ukrainian] formations on the territory of the Azot chemical association can no longer leave the enterprise. All escape routes are cut off for them”.
According to him, “individual representatives of the militants are trying to get in touch with the allied forces and put forward some conditions.” “They are being told that no conditions will be accepted. Only the laying down of arms and surrender,” the LPR ambassador to the Russian Federation added.
Now, taken at face value this seems to be normal saber rattling from representatives of the LPR. However, according to an official statement by the UK Ministry of Defense, the Russian Federation has reclaimed most of the city, but has not been able to make significant gains North and South of the city in order to create an encirclement. That is due primarily to stiff resistance of Ukrainian fighters in the surrounding villages as well as significant artillery cover from American supplied M777s which are being used extensively from firing positions in nearby Lysychansk.
The Ukrainian General Staff updated press this morning saying that fighters are still defending Severodonetsk, but also reinforcing Lysychansk, which is also telling. Lysychansk is being treated as a secondary position to fall back to as it represents one of the final cities in Luhansk oblast still in control of the Ukrainian military. It is very likely that if the Russian Ground Forces encircle and capture Severodonetsk, Ukrainian troops will simply fill the trenches and defensive positions in Lysychansk, which is also supported by the Siverskyi Donets river, which is about 25-30 feet deep in this area.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense told press today that the Lysychansk-Bakhmut Highway is no longer safe as it is being targeted by Russian shelling since it is a major artery to reinforcing the city. It is also reported that a Georgian Volunteer unit is Severodonetsk has sustained heavy casualties from urban fighting.
As of writing this, Russian ground forces have made no attempt to cross the River, as there are some bridges still intact that the Ukrainians are using to ferry supplies to Severodonetsk.