Although the Russians have made incremental gains in the Donbas, it does not appear that they have encircled the city of Lysychansk, a senior Defense Department official said today.
The Ukrainians are putting up stiff resistance in and around Lysychansk, the official said, noting that the area where the fighting is taking place is a very small area.
Just a short distance from Lysychansk is the city of Syevyerodonetsk, which Russian forces now occupy.
“From a military perspective, what I would say is [that] the small number of Ukrainians that held the Russians at Syevyerodonetsk for as long as they did is really something I think we’ll probably all study in the future,” the official said.
“And when [Ukrainian forces] chose to leave Syevyerodonetsk, they chose to do [it] of their own accord and to give that up in order to move to better prepared locations for the continuing of that defense,” the official said.
For the little ground the Russians have managed to gain, they’re losing a large number of their forces, the official said. “The Ukrainians are making them pay for a very small piece of ground.
“Several hundred Ukrainians continue to hold off the Russian army in that part of the world in a pretty significant fight. It speaks to the tenacity of the Ukrainian soldier[s] and their leadership,” the official said.
Over the weekend, the Russians executed 60 missile strikes across the country — in Kyiv, Lviv, Chernihiv and Odesa, the official said, noting that there were civilian casualties. “We’re not quite sure about the Russian objectives of the strikes.”
Near Kherson, the official said DOD is aware of growing indications of resistance against the Russian occupation. “Over the last several days, we’ve become aware of assassinations of local Russian officials. And we’re also aware that reporting suggests Ukrainians have been successful in liberating several small towns northwest and west of Kherson.”
The department has also seen evidence of continued morale problems among Russian forces, the official said. Also, DOD is aware of several Russian generals in Ukraine who have been relieved of duty.
The Russians have employed their reserves over the last month or so, the official said. “The fact that the Russians are talking about reserves speaks to the impact that the Ukrainians are having on the Russian army.
“If you just look on paper, the Russians certainly have an advantage as it relates to munitions systems and total numbers of troops that they can put on the field,” the official said.
The Ukrainians’ progress with fewer forces speaks to their skill and determination, the official said.
Regarding U.S. arms shipments to Ukraine, the official said that four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems will soon be on their way to Ukraine.
“We are continuing to work our security assistance and moving heaven and earth to get that assistance forward to the Ukrainians as fast as we can. And I think what you’re seeing on the battlefield is that the Ukrainians are making good use of not just our systems, but systems that they’re obtaining from our partners and allies around the world,” the official said.