Russo-Ukrainian War 6/8/22

Buildings in Sievierodonetsk targeted and destroyed by Russian artillery fire. Like in Mariupol, Russian artillery has been described as ‘constant’. (image via Ukrainian National Police)

Ukrainian morale on the battlefield in the Donbas has been low, per independent sources and journalists. In places where Ukrainian forces are outnumbered 5-1 or even 7-1, Ukrainian soldiers face harrowing conditions and a sense of desperation. Among many is the common theme of feeling ‘forgotten,’ similarly echoed by the defenders of Mariupol in the final days of the siege. With so much focus being on the delivering of heavy weapons systems, it is easy for those in the West to forget the men and women operating them and the soldiers holding the front lines in Sieveriodonetsk. The latter often have no access to Western weapons deliveries due to the ongoing Russian advance from Popasna and renewed Russian offensive from Izyum, seeking to create a pincer movement. Though a path still exists for Ukrainian forces to enter the Luhansk pocket, it is shelled frequently, along with areas bordering the entire line of contact.

Though Russian morale is likely far lower, with Putin’s ‘three-day war’ stretching well past three months of brutal combat, the sheer number of Russian forces has kept the Russian advance from deteriorating as rapidly as Ukraine would hope. Though recent troop movements suggest a changing situation in Zaporizhzhia, it remains unlikely that Ukraine will see significant gains until more Western heavy weapon systems are in place.

In Sievierodonetsk, which Zelenskyy has called a deciding factor for the ‘fate of the Donbas,’ Ukrainian troops have allegedly been pushed to the outskirts of the city. Though Ukrainian forces claim to still be contesting the city and have at times made successful counterattacks, it remains unclear whether they can hold long enough for Western weapon systems to begin providing much-needed relief from armies outside of the Luhansk pocket.

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