Russia concentrated most of its forces on Monday in the battle of Donbass, in eastern Ukraine, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the international community to intensify sanctions against Moscow and unlimited military aid.
Russian Snacking in the East
In the Donbass, partially controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists, the situation is becoming ” Harder and harder “ for the Ukrainian defenders of Lugansk, one of the two regions of this coalfield, in particular in the city of Severodonetsk, bombarded ” Round the clock “according to the governor, Serguiï Gaïdaï.
“All Russian forces are concentrated in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions”, he said, mentioning in particular the troops withdrawn from the Kharkiv region (north-east) or those who brought down the port of Mariupol (south-east).
“Russian forces made only minimal gains in eastern Ukraine on May 22”estimates the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), while noting their advances north and west of the town of Popasna for several days.
They “probably seek to advance further west towards Bakhmout and north to participate in the encirclement of Severodonetsk, but it remains unlikely that they will be able to advance quickly”adds the ISW.
Stabilization on the southern front
In Mariupol and around this strategic port on the Sea of Azov, Russian troops “continued their filtering and transfer operations” fighters who enabled the last Ukrainian resistance in the huge Azovstal steelworks, according to the ISW.
Further west, they are preparing for a resumption of fighting around Kherson, on their initiative or that of the Ukrainian army, he said.
Call for intensified sanctions and military aid
The Ukrainian president called on the Davos Forum (Switzerland) for an intensification of the sanctions, considering that he “should be no trade with Russia”in particular no purchase of its oil.
“Ukraine needs all the weapons we ask for, not just the ones that have been supplied”also insisted Volodymyr Zelensky, in a videoconference intervention at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Tens of thousands dead
There is no overall assessment of the civilian victims of the conflict. For the city of Mariupol alone, the Ukrainian authorities speak of 20,000 dead. On the military level, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense estimates Russian losses at more than 29,200 men, 204 planes and nearly 1,300 tanks since the start of the invasion on February 24.
The Kremlin admitted “significant losses”.
Western sources mention some 12,000 Russian soldiers killed, a good French military source confirmed to AFP an estimated figure of around 15,000.
These losses over three months are close to those recorded in nine years by the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, underlines the British Ministry of Defence.
President Zelensky said in mid-April that around 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and some 10,000 injured.
No independent statistics are available.