BAD NEWS FOR UKRAINE: RUSSIA CAPRUTRES LYSYCHANSK
By: Ray Zhao
On Sunday, Russia captured the strategic city of Lysychansk, meaning it now fully controls Luhansk and can, according to some military experts familiar with the matter, move troops to attack Ukrainian troops and cities in Donetsk. The decade-long conflict began when Russia-backed separatists set up breakaway republics in both provinces in 2014. The 250-mile front was stagnant until Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Ukraine stated that it had withdrawn from the city of Lysychansk just a few hours after Russia’s defense minister Sergei K. Shoigu said his forces had seized control of it after a long artillery bombardment.
Lysychansk was the last city in Luhansk held by Ukraine. The capture of the city, which has around 100,000 residents, means Russia now has complete control of that coal-rich and industrial region. In addition, military analysts say the city might offer a base to attack bigger cities to the southwest, like Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Bakhmut.
In his evening address, President Zelensky of Ukraine said “in order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw … people must be saved above all else.”
To take Lysychansk along with the neighboring city of Sievierodonetsk, which has a population of more than 105,000, Russian forces attacked from all directions and surrounded the city. Eventually, Ukraine was unable to defend it. Now, Russian forces may attempt a similar siege on other Ukrainian cities in the coming months.
The Russian strategy of long periods of bombardment followed by advances of troops and tanks seems to be working. The city of Lysychansk had to endure such a tactic. Despite Western support of Ukraine, Russian firepower and manpower still remain superior to Ukraine’s.
The New York Times’ Cassandra Vinograd reports that: “Kramatorsk is one of the last major cities still under Ukrainian control in Donetsk. If Kramatorsk falls, Russia will control the whole Donbas region. From both a supply standpoint and a symbolic one, that is critical.” If that happens, Putin could use the territory as leverage in negotiations with Ukraine. Holding the Donbas could also connect Russian territory to Crimea.