“Russian forces are likely short of combat-ready reserves, forcing the military command to amalgamate soldiers from different elements, including mercenaries and auxiliaries,” said the American Institute for War Studies (ISW).
Moreover, NATO’s support for the Ukrainians is not weakening, while Sweden and Finland are working to integrate it. “The Ukrainians receive (…) a lot of Western equipment, more than 240 tanks and 400 armored infantry vehicles at the beginning of May, which is already more than the losses since the beginning of the war, and perhaps especially 200 pieces of artillery”, indicates the former French colonel Michel Goya.
Here is an update on the situation based on information from AFP journalists on site, official Ukrainian and Russian statements, Western sources, analysts and international organizations.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiï Arestovich assured Sunday evening that the Russians were transferring troops from the Kharkiv region (northeast) to that of Lugansk, in the Donbass, in order to take Severodonetsk.
The governor of the Lugansk region, Sergei Gaïdaï, reported the bombardment on Sunday of a hospital in Severodonetsk which left two dead and nine injured.
“The Russian forces have conquered a pocket 15 km to the west and 20 km to the south of Izium. They seem to be stopping in this area, renouncing to seize the key point of Barvinkove”, estimates the former French Colonel Michel Goya on his Twitter account. The Russians “are now concentrating their effort on the cities of Sloviansk and Severodonetsk”.
The former officer recalls an episode that stirred even pro-Russian military blogs: “the crossing of the Donets River in the Bilohorivka area ended in disaster on May 13, with the equivalent of a battle group destroyed by the Ukrainian artillery”.
– The North-east –
The Ukrainians pushed back Russian troops and regained control of part of the border in the Kharkiv region, according to kyiv. “The 227th Battalion of the 127th Territorial Defense Brigade of the Kharkiv Armed Forces expelled the Russians and settled on the border,” the ministry said on its Facebook page.
– South –
The city of Mykolaiv was the target of a series of missile strikes which left two dead, according to the Ukrainian presidency.
In Mariupol, at the southern tip of the Donbass, the Russian army continues its bombardments and intensive artillery fire on the Azovstal steelworks, the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in this strategic port, according to the Ukrainian general staff.
“Russian forces are fortifying positions along the southern axis, demonstrating their goals of permanently controlling the area,” the ISW said.
The Kremlin said on Monday that Sweden and Finland joining NATO would not improve security on the European continent. The spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov, expressed Moscow’s “concern” and promised to follow “the implications” for the security of the federation.
The Finnish and Swedish parliaments were considering the candidacies of the two Nordic countries for NATO on Monday, with large majorities assured in both chambers.
– Tens of thousands dead –
There is no overall assessment of the civilian victims of the conflict. In Mariupol alone, the Ukrainian authorities spoke several weeks ago of 20,000 deaths. And Ukrainian investigators claim to have identified “more than 8,000 cases” of alleged war crimes.
On the military level, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense estimates Russian losses at 27,000 men since the start of the invasion on February 24. This is more than according to Western sources. The Kremlin only admitted “significant losses” several weeks ago.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said around 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and some 10,000 injured.
No independent statistics are available.
– Displaced persons and refugees –
Ukraine has seen more than six million of its own flee its territory, of which more than half – 3.27 million – to Poland, underlined the High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) in Geneva, noting however that the flow of these departures has dried up considerably over the weeks.
The trend has even reversed.
The overall balance, however, still remains largely negative – with 5.9 million departures for 1.56 million returns, according to border guards.