The Ukrainian Armed Forces position in Severodonetsk has crumbled by all available reports. Last night, Chechen leader Kadyrov, in keeping with his history of bold claims, declared that “80% of Severodonetsk has been cleared of enemy troops”. That claim seems to have been substantiated today by Ukrainian and Russian media.
Heavy fighting continues in the southwest part of the city where Ukrainian troops still hold residential structures. However, Russian troops have also entered Toshkivka and Ustynivka, south of the city, setting up for a possible encirclement of the more than 4,000 Ukrainian troops still in Severodonetsk. Several thousand Ukrainian troops have set up fall back positions in Lysychansk, as it will take some time for Russian troops to clear and consolidate gains in the city once occupied by 100,000 people. Even if Russian troops push the remaining Ukrainian troops out of the city, there will be a period to rebuild momentum towards Lysychansk. The Ukrainian General Staff has also reported that Russian troops are consolidating for another push out of Lyman, which fell two days ago.
French President Macron confirmed earlier today that French journalist Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was hit by shrapnel from Russian tac-air strikes while evacuating the city in a humanitarian convoy.
Journaliste, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff était en Ukraine pour montrer la réalité de la guerre. À bord d’un bus humanitaire, aux côtés de civils contraints de fuir pour échapper aux bombes russes, il a été mortellement touché.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 30, 2022
Ukrainian Governor of Luhansk Oblast, Haidai, expressed his condolences to the French people and halted all humanitarian evacuations in the region, instead urging civilians to shelter in place.
Ukrainian and Russian social media users are reporting that 90% of Severodonetsk has been severely damaged with only a few buildings left undamaged. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Motuzyanyk stated in a press conference today that “the situation is difficult”, as fighting continues on the outskirts and southwest of the city. It is probable that Russian and Chechen troops ( reportedly the Akhmat unit) will completely capture the strategic city in the next day or so, removing one of the final footholds of Ukraines military in Luhansk.
After President Putin announced in March that the war goals in Ukraine shifted to the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, more than 50 BTGs were transferred from Northeast Ukraine to the Donbass. Since that redeployment, the 50 or so Ukrainian BTGs that originally defended the Joint Forces Area (JFO) have been struggling to contain the nearly 94 Russian BTGs concentrated there. However, if Severodonetsk and Lysychansk fall, Putin’s war aims will be tested. If Russian troops stop at the border of Kharkiv oblast or attempt another assault on that city, the world will know if the war will truly be contained to those areas.