Self-Declared Luhansk People’s Republic officials are declaring that increased shelling and infantry advances are targeting surrounding villages across the Donets river. These thrusts, if successful, will be able to cut off and surround Lysychansk which is the only lifeline to the approximately 3,000 Ukrainian troops holding the Azot Chemical Plant in Severodonetsk.
At approximately 0030 EST large artillery barrages began to strike Bila Hora ,which is Southeast Of Severodonetsk, as well as Toshivka, Ustynivka, and Gorskoye. Luhansk People’s Republic 2nd Corps and Russian Ground Forces have crossed the Donets River near Goskoye and have made infantry advances towards those villages of approximately 10,000 people each. The LPR Ambassador to Russia, Mr. Miroshnik, made several bold claims, saying that Ukrainian Armed forces at the Azot CHemical Plant in Severodonetsk were completely cut off and that their forces were advancing in all directions towards Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
These developments prompted Ukrainian Luhansk Governor Haidai to announce that Russian troops continued to engage civilian infrastructure in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Toshkivka, and Ustynivka using “large-calibre artillery”. He also said that Russian troops are attacking “from all directions” and that Russian advances were turned back in Severodonetsk and Toshivka. He and the Ukrainian General Staff announced that a Russian attack of at least 2 BTGs was repulsed in Toshivka despite heavy Russian shelling and tac-air support. They also stated that the Russian Federation deployed an additional BTG from the 138th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade from the Western Military District to the region. On 20 March 2022, Ukraine claimed that 10 servicemen in the 138th were being investigated for refusing to fight and encouraging others in the unit to return home. Elements of the brigade were routed in the Battle of Kharkiv and were withdrawn into Russia
President Zelensky stated yesterday that these battles for key cities in the East will undoubtedly determine the course of the war and that Ukraine is at a turning point. If the Ukrainians can continue to enforce and deny Russian advances, they will be in a much better position to negotiate a Minsk-like agreement which would bring this destructive invasion to at least an uneasy cease-fire.