Putin humiliated as Russian forces struggling to carry out ‘broad offensive in Donetsk

Russia 'struggling' to carry out broad offensive says Shoebridge

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Russian forces are scrambling to make any significant advances into the Russian-backed separatist province of Donetsk, former Senior Defence and Intelligence Official at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Michael Shoebridge said. After taking full control of the other separatist province of Luhansk, Russian soldiers are honing on Donetsk in the hopes of gaining control of the full Donbas region – Russia has waged a war in the Ukrainian region since 2014. But Vladimir Putin’s military ambition could be thwarted, as Ukrainian forces are holding the line.

Looking at the state of play in Ukraine, Mr Shoebridge said: “There are two broad places where the fighting really intensified. It’s in the east around Donetsk and the Russians are trying to conduct a big broad offensive there.

“But really, it looks like they’re only able to do some quite limited attacks towards two small towns there. And the Ukrainians are resisting that quite effectively.

“So, to me, it looks like what was meant to be a really major offensive, the Russians are just struggling to have the forces able to do that.

“They’re still trying to cobble together new forces out of volunteer battalions in places like Moscow and Russian regions and Chechnya – and they’re not having a lot of luck.”

“So, it doesn’t look like they’ve got the scale to do this broad offensive they want around Donetsk”, Mr Shoebridge said. “And, as always in war, Russia’s adversary – the Ukrainians – gets a vote. And you talked about the counter-offensive the Ukrainians seem to have launched down in the south.

“There are reports that they may even have cut off Russian forces in the city of Kherson in the south after destroying the main bridge that connects that city to the rest of the Russian-held areas.

“So, it does not look like Russia has all the momentum here. It’ll be interesting to see how the Ukrainian counterattack develops.

“But behind the lines of the Russian occupation, Ukrainians aren’t cooperating, so Russia is also having trouble controlling and operating the parts of Ukraine it’s seized.”

Russia’s offensive in Donetsk is part of Vladimir Putin’s plan to consolidate his control over the two Donbas provinces – Donetsk and Luhansk. His military ambition is to annex them into Russia to then hold referendums on joining Russia, people familiar with the strategy told Bloomberg.

A series of referendums on the status of the two provinces were already held on May 11, 2014, in a bid to legitimise the establishment of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LRP) – two Russian-backed separatists republics only recognised by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

In the days leading up to the full invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin recognised their independence to then justify his unprovoked attack.

However, the move was met with international condemnation and the West has since been delivering weapons to Ukraine in an effort to preserve its sovereignty.

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Ukraine will be celebrating the Day of Ukrainian Statehood on Thursday for the first time since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

In a speech published last Sunday, President Zelensky said Ukrainians will “celebrate at the time of such a brutal war — in the sixth month of it.

He added: “After eight years of war in Donbas. But we will celebrate, despite all, because Ukrainians cannot be broken.”

On Thursday, President Zelensky addressed citizens, saying that the history of Ukraine’s statehood can be described in one sentence: “We existed, exist and will exist!”

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