Russian push accelerates, Ukrainians in dire straits before American aid arrives

Russian push accelerates, Ukrainians in dire straits before American aid arrives
Russian push accelerates, Ukrainians in dire straits before American aid arrives

Tchasiv Iar, Otcheretyne. Since mid-April, Russian assaults in these areas of the Eastern front have doubled in intensity and are expected to continue until the arrival of Western munitions, eagerly awaited by the Ukrainians who are sorely lacking them.

Among the latest Russian successes to date, the conquests of Otcheretyne and Soloviové, claimed in recent days by Moscow. On Sunday, plumes of black smoke rose into the sky in the area, testifying to ongoing bombings and fighting.

Otcheretyne, which had some 3,000 inhabitants before the war, is located a dozen kilometers north of Avdiïvka, seized by Moscow in February.

After the capture of this highly symbolic fortress city, the Russian forces, better armed and more numerous, gained ground towards the West.

But it was from mid-April that their advance accelerated on Otcheretyne, finally conquered in just two weeks. The daily figures provided by the general staff in kyiv speak for themselves: on Sunday, it noted no less than 125 Russian attacks on the 700 kilometers of front, more than half of which only towards Otcheretyné/Avdiïvka and Tchassiv Iar.

For comparison, at the end of March, Ukraine noted 53 attacks, including 21 in these two areas. Far from being a massive breakthrough, the rapid Russian advance in this area nevertheless surprised and provoked criticism.

“Collapse of defenses”

The Telegram channel DeepState, close to the Ukrainian army, blamed the command of a unit deployed in Ocheretyne, the 115th motorized brigade, for “the collapse of defenses throughout the region, causing considerable losses”. The soldiers “did not escape”, the brigade defended itself on its Facebook page, explaining that they had lost men and positions due to daily fire from Russian forces “ten to fifteen times” more powerful than that of the Russian forces. Ukrainians.

Ukraine has been warning for months about its lack of ammunition, blaming in particular delays in Western aid. Washington recently validated a package of $61 billion in aid, to the great relief of kyiv. But it will take some time for this assistance to materialize on the battlefield.

“The enemy understands that in two months, the ammunition […] will begin to appear,” Yuri Fedorenko, commander of the Achilles drone battalion of the 92nd brigade, which operates on the Eastern Front, told AFP. “These two months of war will therefore be very, very intense. The enemy will try to take as much as possible between now and then,” he predicts.

At this rate, Russian troops could soon threaten the strategically important T0504 road, now around ten km from the front line.

Along this road north of Otcheretyne, civilian employees were still digging anti-tank trenches and ditches until recently. “They started two weeks ago,” said a resident of the village of Novoolenivka, near ongoing excavations.

The road leads west to Pokrovsk and northeast to Kostiantynivka, a Ukrainian logistics base, before passing south of Chassiv Yar, one of Moscow’s current objectives.

The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Oleksandr Syrsky, assured that Russia wanted to seize this strategic city “by May 9”, i.e. Thursday. This date marks the Soviet victory against Nazi Germany, a central element of the Kremlin’s patriotic narrative.

Russia will not achieve its goal this week, but its army is on the offensive in all directions to remove this key barrier. This could help it reach Kramatorsk, the main city in the region controlled by kyiv and an important rail and logistics hub for Ukrainians.

“All-terrain motorcycles”

“If the enemy occupies Chasiv Yar, he can take control of Kostiantynivka, Druzhkivka and Kramatorsk with long-range firepower,” says Yuri Fedorenko. “It is a very good base to continue an advance and carry out assault operations […] in order to occupy the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk”, partly controlled by Moscow, he continues.

And all means are good to move forward. In early May, a brigade commander noted that the Russians had “penetrated our positions on all-terrain motorcycles.” “Their speed and maneuverability worked in their favor,” he said.

The Ukrainians have so far contained Russian assaults to the east and north of Chassiv Yar, but Moscow’s troops have advanced to the south in recent days. These will notably have to cross a dry canal, in the shape of a trapezoid, 6 meters deep and at the top thirty meters wide, which runs along the entire east of the city.

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