Senior Russian officials admitted on Tuesday that the conflict would last, with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warning that the “special military operation” in Ukraine would continue “until the achievement of all objectives”.
Here is an update on the situation on the 90th day of the war based on information from AFP journalists on the spot, official Ukrainian and Russian statements, Western sources, analysts and international organizations.
After having moved Russian forces away from the two largest cities in the country, the capital kyiv at the end of March and the beginning of April, then Kharkiv (north-east) in May, the Ukrainians have recognized for a few days “difficulties” in the Donbass coal basin, formed by the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Moscow is concentrating its firepower precisely on the Ukrainian redoubt in the Lugansk region, trying to surround the cities of Severodonetsk and Lyssytchansk.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense also mentioned intense fighting in progress near there, in the vicinity of the localities of Popasna and Bakhmout.
The fall of Bakhmut in Donetsk province would give the Russians control of a crossroads that currently serves as an impromptu command center for much of Ukraine’s war effort.
“The greatest hostile activity” is observed “near Lyssytchansk and Severodonetsk” which the Russians seek to “encircle”, according to the Ukrainian general staff.
“Today we see that the number of shellings in Severodonetsk has increased (…). They are simply destroying the whole city,” said Lugansk region governor Sergiï Gaïdaï.
“The capture of the Severodonetsk pocket would see the whole of Luhansk oblast placed under Russian occupation”, summarizes the British Ministry of Defence, specifying that these fights are “only part of the Russian campaign to take control of everything the Donbas”.
– South –
The southern front appears stable, although the Ukrainians are claiming territorial gains there.
The southern command reported, on the night of Monday to Tuesday, an “advance” of its divisions “through the Mykolaiv region in the direction of the Kherson region”, controlled by the Russians who introduced their currency there , the ruble. He accused the “occupiers” of killing civilians trying to flee by car.
Ukrainian forces are now pounding Russian positions with newly brought in Western artillery systems, including US howitzers, a Ukrainian army spokesman told AFP.
In addition, Denmark has pledged to supply Harpoon missiles to Ukraine, which is trying to counter the blockade imposed by the Russian navy on the port of Odessa, vital for wheat exports.
According to the Institute for War Studies (ISW), the Russians are preparing in the south for prolonged operations and to deal with Ukrainian counter-offensives.
– 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.
– A third of displaced or refugee Ukrainians –
More than eight million Ukrainians were internally displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Added to this are 6.5 million who have fled abroad, more than half of them – 3.4 million – to Poland.