“One of the toughest battles of this war”, in the words of Volodimir Zelensky, it continues in Severodonetsk. Russia has thrown most of its available troops on a small part of the front in Luhansk province, seeking to gain control over one of the two regions that make up the Donbas region. Meanwhile, Russia says that just over a thousand of these “foreign mercenaries” were captured, while around 400 were trapped during the siege of the Azovstal steel plant.
The expert Ivan Katchanovski analyzes for LA RAZÓN the importance of Severodonetsk.
Why is Severodonetsk so important for Ukraine?
For political and military reasons. This industrial city became the administrative center of the Lugansk region after its capital Lugansk became the capital of the self-proclaimed breakaway republic of Lugansk in 2014. Since Ukraine now controls only a small percentage of the region, Zelensky sees Severodonetsk as having significant symbolic value. This city is also the main battlefield of the Russian-Ukrainian war at the moment. Russian and pro-Russian separatist forces attempt to completely encircle large numbers of Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk and neighboring towns. His own statements and various Ukrainian reports and other evidence suggest that Zelensky himself ordered the Ukrainian military not to withdraw from this city and nearby towns despite the very real possibility that they might be completely encircled by Russian forces. and separatists.
Although they are fighting “house to house”, it seems that their only hope to turn the tables was more artillery to counter the massive Russian firepower. Will the western allies help them in time?
Reports from Western journalists in the area and my daily perusal of dozens of videos show that artillery and missile attacks by Ukrainian and Russian forces and separatists are the deadliest weapons in this war. Western supplies of artillery and other weapons would increase the firepower and endurance of the Ukrainian forces. But they are unlikely to change the outcome of the war. Russia would continue to have a huge advantage not only in artillery and missiles over Ukraine, but also in air power and electronic warfare. Delivery of those heavy Western weapons would also be difficult. Russian and separatist forces now control most of Severodonetsk and are shelling the only remaining and already damaged bridge as well as the main road in this Ukrainian-held city.
Will Russia stop once it has captured all of Donbas?
Russia is unlikely to stop at Donbas, the capture of which Putin declared as his main goal and justification for the war. Russia plans to capture and annex not only all of Donbas, but also the Kherson region and parts of Zaporizhia and Kharkiv, as well as other parts of southern and eastern Ukraine. Russia has already appointed regional and local administrations in the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv regions, and declared that their regions would join Russia. Putin, in his Victory Day speech, suggested Russian plans to “annex” other parts of Ukraine in the south and east, because he stated that Russian forces and separatist forces were fighting in Ukraine on their own territory. He made a similar statement in his recent speech.
The Kremlin said on Thursday that no agreement had been reached with Turkey to sell grain from Ukraine, is Russia also playing an international food crisis?
Russia is using the threat of an international food crisis from the drop in much of Ukraine’s grain exports through Black Sea ports as leverage to lift sanctions on Russia’s own agricultural and fertilizer exports. Many countries in Africa and Asia are heavily dependent on grain imports from Ukraine and Russia.
Ivan Katchanovski is a professor at the University of Ottawa and an expert on former Soviet republics.